By Bill Britt
Alabama Political Reporter
MONTGOMERY—In a June, 2014 interview with Inside Alabama Politics, James L. (Jim) Sumner, Jr., the Director of the Alabama Ethics Commission, stated that his office had never received an ethics complaint concerning Speaker of the House Mike Hubbard, R-Auburn. However, an ethics complaint against Hubbard was filed with the his office in December, 2013.
The over 50 page complaint reads like a chronicle of articles written by Alabama Political Reporter over the last several years. It details many suspect actions taken by Hubbard with detailed evidence. Yet, Sumner denies its existence.
Hugh R. Evans III, who serves as General Counsel for the commission, acknowledged – in writing – the receipt of the complaint on December 12, 2013. In a letter to attorney John Aaron, who filed the complaint, Evans confirms receipt of the complaint and also provides Aaron with a case file number.
The complaint against Michael G. Hubbard was assigned case number 2013-308. In his letter, Evans also states that a Special Agent would be assigned to investigate the matter. That agent was Tony Goubil, former chief investigator for the Mobile County District Attorney’s office. Goubil contacted Aaron to arrange a meeting soon after the letter was received but then, for undisclosed reasons, broke off all contact, even refusing to return any of Aaron’s phone calls. Evans’ letter showing that the complaint had been received and assigned a case number and an agent, raises serious questions about Sumner’s denial, and Goubil’s truncated communication with Aaron.
Perhaps, Sumner turned this over to law enforcement, because we are aware that a Grand Jury has been looking into possible illegal activities involving Hubbard.
Still, approximately six months after Evans confirmed receipt of the ethics complaint against Hubbard, Director Sumner told Inside Alabama Politics, when asked why his office never investigated Hubbard, “…I think first and foremost my answer would be: number one, we never had any knowledge of many of the things that are being alleged; and number two, we never had a complaint. So the critics can certainly take whatever criticism they want of that, but first for some agency to be able to do something they have to know something. And we have always operated based on the information we knew at the time. I won’t go beyond that, but that should go a long way toward answering the critics.”
Sumner categorically states on the record that “we never had a complaint,” yet, his own general counsel and special agent confirmed not only that a complaint had been filed, but that it was under active investigation.
Sumner has refused to answer this publication’s questions on this matter and others. In an extended conversation with this reporter,over a year ago, Sumner disparaged me personally and professionally. According to associates, he has used foul language in reference to this publication and this reporter. These harangues came after our report on Sumner’s okaying Hubbard’s “consulting contract,” with American Pharmacy Cooperative, Inc., (APCI) without ever personally examining the document.
Sumner told the Alabama Political Reporter in June, 2013, “No, I never saw a contract and didn’t ask to see a contract.”
In June, 2013, this publication revealed that Hubbard was instrumental in placing language into the State’s General Fund budget that would have guaranteed APCI exclusive rights to provide prescription medication for the State’s multi-million dollar Medicaid program.
Disgraced Republican lawmaker, Greg Wren in April, 2014, plead guilty to using his office for personal gain for aiding Hubbard in placing the 23 words into the General Fund Budget.
Sumner, who is set to retire from his position as director on October 1, has not been forthcoming with the media about the Ethics Commission’s investigation of Hubbard.
Sumner has been confirmed as having spoken to members of the Attorney General’s Office, who are investigating Hubbard in relation to the Grand Jury hearings in Lee County.