By Bill Britt
Alabama Political Reporter
MONTGOMERY—“You can’t trust Mike Hubbard.” That is the closing statement made by the former Executive Director of Government Affairs for Auburn University. In a 30-second television commercial, Buddy Mitchell speaks into the camera and says what he has sworn to in an affidavit.
Mitchell gave Hubbard the information that allowed him to perpetrate a bid rigging scheme for the media rights to Auburn sports.
“I provided Mike Hubbard with his competitor’s proposals early in the review process,” Mitchell told the Alabama Political Reporter. “He told me that having the proposals allowed him to clarify or amend his proposal and to raise doubts to Auburn Athletic Department officials about the other proposals.”
Hubbard won the contract by knowing what his competitors were offering, and countering with a new plan and strategy to destroy his competition, according to Mitchell.
Hubbard’s winning bid was a five-year, $8.5 million deal, which was far less than $12.5 million offered by his competitors. That meant Auburn received $4 million less under Hubbard’s proposal than under the bid more financially beneficial to Auburn.
Mitchell’s story was first told by Paul Davis as early as four years ago (without mentioning Mitchell’s name) and then by the Alabama Political Reporter in 2013.
But, as with most dealings concerning Hubbard, who is Speaker of the Alabama House, the State’s corporate media turned a blind eye, until now.
Now that Mitchell’s confession is being seen by thousands of voters, Hubbard felt compelled to react. In what has become a standard talking point for Hubbard, he blamed the “liberal special interests,” who were attacking him, smearing his good name “and caus[ing] great pain to my wife and sons.” Hubbard also attacks Mitchell personally saying he is a, “disgraced, bitter and desperate former lobbyist.” This is the same Buddy Mitchell that Hubbard praised in 2004, telling the Opelika-Auburn News, ”I consider myself a good friend of Buddy’s. I’ve always enjoyed working with him. He bleeds orange and blue and I think most members of the legislature respected him.”
There is no evidence in Mitchell’s record at Auburn that he was disgraced in anyway.
Mitchell’s attorney, Tommy Gallion, said that his client stands by his statement.
“We’re ready to go under oath if he’ll [Hubbard] go under oath,” Gallion said.
But Hubbard did not stop with just disparaging Mitchell’s character, he also took a swipe at Sandy Toomer, who is challenging him for House District 79.
“Since my opponent is a graduate of the University of Alabama and has only lived here for a short time, he clearly doesn’t understand that when someone attacks and makes false and defamatory accusations against Auburn, it is also an attack on the entire Auburn Family,” Hubbard said.
This attack on Toomer seems somewhat disingenuous since Hubbard in a graduate of the University of Georgia.
In his disparaging statement, the one thing Hubbard does not do is deny that Mitchell gave him the bids of his competitors.
Mitchell recorded the ad for Toomer, because he wanted to alert the voters of Auburn to Hubbard’s dishonest dealings. But mostly, because as he says in the commercial, “I love Auburn.”
Mitchell worked for Auburn from 1993 to 2004, as executive director of government affairs serving under the AU president. He fondly remembers his father taking him to his first Auburn football game in the 1950s. “I went to Auburn, my brother did and all my kids, we are an Auburn family through and through,” said Mitchell.
Sandy Toomer’s campaign put out a statement saying, “Mike Hubbard responded to charges made by former Auburn University Director of Governmental Affairs, Buddy Mitchell, without denying the accusations. Instead, Hubbard attacked Mitchell, a man he once praised and said was respected by the Alabama Legislature.”
Buddy Mitchell stands by his sworn statement that Mike Hubbard participated in a bid rigging scheme that cost Auburn University millions of dollars. Mitchell devoted his entire life to Auburn University, but as a Georgia graduate, Mike Hubbard is just now realizing the damage his actions have done to the Auburn family.”
For years it was speculated that Hubbard was given an unfair advantage in obtaining a Auburn University media contract worth millions of dollars. It had been rumored that Hubbard was given the sealed bids of other media companies vying for the lucrative multimedia rights to Auburn athletics. Mitchell makes it clear that he was the man who helped Hubbard and that Hubbard betrayed Auburn University.
The Alabama Political Reporter has made several calls to Auburn University about this matter since 2013. Auburn has steadfastly refused to answer any questions concerning Mitchell’s affidavit.