By Bill Britt
Alabama Political Reporter
MONTGOMERY—Senate President Del Marsh, R-Anniston, has kept a low-profile regarding the revelation that Speaker of the House Mike Hubbard is under investigation by the State’s Attorney General’s Office.
Marsh reportedly spent six hours testifying before the Lee County Grand Jury in Mid-November, 2013, what he was asked and the outcome of that hearing is unknown.
Is Marsh a target, a suspect, or just a man who stood too close to the raging fire that has been Speaker Hubbard’s political career?
As to Marsh’s involvement: there can be only speculation. While Hubbard was Chairman of the ALGOP, he persuaded Marsh to serve as Finance Chairman for the Party. Marsh, easily the wealthiest State legislator in Alabama, was a prime mover in soliciting the millions of dollars it took to secure the Republican takeover of the Legislature in 2010.
According to Hubbard’s vanity publication, Storming the State House, he and Marsh “…were tirelessly exploring ways to increase revenue.” They joined forces with then Gov. Bob Riley to raise around $4 million to field a hand-picked slate of GOP candidates.
Marsh solicited over a half million dollars from the Poarch Creek Band of Indians (PCI) to finance Senate candidates. All of the money Marsh receive from the PCI was routed through the Republican National Leadership Committee (RSLC). Large amounts of campaign contributions were funneled from Alabama donors to the RSLC and back under Marsh’s direction. It is not known if this was illegal. What is almost certain, is that the statute of limitation has run-out on the affair.
What is also unclear is Marsh’s involvement with Hubbard and if Marsh knew of Hubbard’s propensity for routing money from the ALGOP and other PACs into his personal businesses.
In 2010, while serving as the Chairman of the ALGOP, Hubbard, directed campaign contributions under his control to his own personal business interests. Using a series of political action committees (PACs), Hubbard directed money to candidates and vendors who then used some or all the funds to purchase goods and services from Hubbard’s business interests.
Was Marsh aware of/or complicit in what appears to be a scheme to embezzle funds from the ALGOP?
Did Marsh know about Hubbard’s so-called consulting contracts and did he assist Hubbard, in helping American Pharmacy Cooperative Inc, (APCI) ?
Did Marsh have a hand in placing the “23 words” in the General Fund Budget in an attempt to give Hubbard’s consulting client APCI a monopoly over the State’s Medicaid Benefits Program?
Marsh was a member of the joint conference committee that negotiated the budget dispute that led to the removal of the “23 words.” Which side was Marsh on in that committee meeting?
What about his affiliation with former Gov. Bob Riley, and the scheme to funnel money through Citizens for a Better Alabama (CBA) and back into Hubbard-owned business?
According to A. Eric Johnston, the founder of CBA, efforts by then-Governor Bob Riley allowed over a million dollars to flow through his nonprofit, Citizens for Better Alabama, into to the hands of Mike Hubbard.
According to Johnston, “Someone from the Governor’s [Bob Riley’s] office would call and say you’re getting a check for $200,000 and you’re going to get a bill at the same time from [Mike] Hubbard’s deal and you need to pay that. That is what that money is for.”
Again, it is not known what knowledge or involvement Marsh had re: the transfer of over a million dollars into Citizens for a Better Alabama (CBA) and back into Hubbard-owned businesses.
But for years, Marsh has served as a right hand and loyalist to Hubbard and Riley. It would be difficult to imagine that some of the taint from their schemes has not rubbed-off on him.
There is a growing coalition of politicos that believe Hubbard will be replaced as Speaker of the House. There is also talk that Marsh should be replaced as well. Much is said to rest on the results of the Lee County Grand Jury probe. However, several Republican lawmakers have expressed the need to replace both men, with those who have not been touched by the Hubbard scandal.
The questions remain as to the depth of Marsh’s involvement and if the Hubbard affair will bring him down as well.
Marsh is represented by his brother David, who is the founding partner in the Birmingham-based law firm of Marsh, Rickard & Bryan.