By Bill Britt
Alabama Political Reporter
MONTGOMERY—On July, 14, Speaker of the House Mike Hubbard, R-Auburn, used $75,000 from his campaign account to pay his white collar criminal defense attorney, J. Mark White. For those keeping count, this makes $221,610.77 that Hubbard has paid his lawyers using campaign contributions. (See FCPA December 2013, FCPA March 2014)
Since early August 2013, Speaker Hubbard, has engaged the law firms of White, Arnold & Dowd and Trussell, Funderburg, Rea and Bell to represent him, in what lead attorney White characterized at the time as an investigation into individuals or groups who were making false statements against the Speaker and his family.
However, documents recently released by Lee County Circuit Court Judge Jacob A Walker, III, reveal that Hubbard is the subject of an on-going Attorney General’s investigation into possible criminal activities by Hubbard and perhaps others.
Hubbard and White have also made the argument that the investigation into Hubbard was a political prosecution. It seems the duo wants to have it both ways.
Many within the legal community say that $221,610.77 is just so much spare change for the services of White and company. So, it may be that Hubbard is using campaign funds to supplement the actual cost of White’s services.
What should be clear to anyone with even the most rudimentary skills in reading comprehension, is that Hubbard is paying his legal fees in violation of the 2002 Attorney General’s opinion. The opinion by former AG, Bill Pryor, states that “Excess campaign funds may be used by an incumbent office holder to pay legal fees incurred pursuant to the defense of a criminal indictment if the indictment is related to the performance of the duties of the office held.”
One of the key phrases is, “pursuant to the defense of a criminal indictment.”
Hubbard and his attorneys have steadfastly maintained that their work was related to an investigation of those who were disparaging Hubbard and his family.
Therefore, Hubbard would not be allowed to use these funds to pay White or Lance Bell because their services are not “legal fees incurred pursuant to the defense of a criminal indictment.”
It is also key to understand that Pryor’s opinion states that, in order to use campaign funds to pay for legal defense campaign the act must be relayed to, “the performance of the duties of the office held.”
So far it is believed that Hubbard embezzled money from the Alabama Republican Party, accepted bribes to pass legislation favorable to a particular business and that he used his office for personal gain. Not one of these actions is remotely related to the function of Hubbard’s office as a State Representative or House Speaker. Yet, Hubbard and his attorney continue to use other people’s money to mount a criminal defense in the guise of a public relations campaign.