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Stealing the Statehouse

Hubbard Arrested, Charged with 23 Felony Counts

Bill Britt

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By Bill Britt
Alabama Political Reporter

October 21, 2014

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MONTGOMERY—After a year’s worth of investigation by the Special White Collar Crimes Unit of the State’s Attorney General’s Office and a two-year investigation by this publication, Speaker of the House Mike Hubbard, R-Auburn, has been arrested and charged with 23 felony indictments.

Hubbard was allowed to turn himself in at the Lee County Courthouse around 4:00PM Monday evening.

Hubbard has been charged with using his office for personal gain, receiving cash and contracts from lobbyists and business associates, and receiving assistance with his business interests from high-profile individuals and companies, including former Gov. Bob Riley.

In what might be considered the ultimate irony, many of Hubbard’s indictments stem from the 2010 enactments of the Republican-sponsored Ethics Law. Under Section 36-25-5(a) “No public official or public employee shall use or cause to be used his or her official position or office to obtain personal gain for himself or herself, or family member of the public employee or family member of the public official, or any business with which the person is associated unless the use and gain are otherwise specifically authorized by law. Personal gain is achieved when the public official, public employee, or a family member thereof receives, obtains, exerts control over, or otherwise converts to personal use the object constituting such personal gain.”

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If convicted on each count, Hubbard could face a minimum of 46 years in prison.

Many of Hubbard’s top associates and some of the State’s leading business figures are named as participating in Hubbard’s actions.

They include: former Gov. Bob Riley, his daughter, Minda Riley Champbell, BCA Chairman Billy Canary, Tim Howe, Will Brooke, Dax Swatek, Jimmy Rane, Rob Barton, Robert Abrams, James Holbrook as well as American Pharmacy Cooperative Inc. (APCI), the Southeast Alabama Gas District, (SEAGD) and Edgenuity, Inc. and/or E2020.

Each of these individuals and companies may very well be charged with the same crimes as Hubbard under Section 36-25-7(a) which states:

“No person shall offer or give to a public official or public employee or a member of the household of a public employee or a member of the household of the public official and none of the aforementioned shall solicit or receive anything for the purpose of corruptly influencing official action, regardless of whether or not the thing solicited or received is a thing of value.”

It is believed that Hubbard’s indictments are just the beginning of the charges that will be brought against other lawmakers and individuals.

The first three counts are related to Hubbard’s time as Chairman of the Republican Party, where he is accused of funneling money from the party to the Florida-based Majority Strategies, and back to his business interest, Craftmaster Printers, Inc.

In Count 4, Hubbard is accused of using is office for personal gain by funneling money through Tim Howe d/b/a The Howe Group, LLC and/or SRM Media and back to his business interest, Auburn Network.

According to State law, the Chairman of the Republican Party is legally held to the same standards as any elected official.

In Counts 5 and 6, Hubbard is charged with using his office and voting to secure an “exclusive” contract for American Pharmacy Cooperative Inc. (APCI), which would have given the company the right to be the sole provider for pharmacy benefits management under the State’s Medicaid program.

Under Counts 8 and 9, Hubbard is charged for his lobbying efforts for the Southeast Alabama Gas District, (SEAGD).

In Count 10, Hubbard is accused of receiving a thing(s) of value from Edgenuity, inc. and/or E2020 to Auburn Network.

Charges under Counts 11, 12, 13 and 14, stem from Hubbard’s relationship with Robert Abrams d/b/a CV Holdings. In 2013, CV Holdings received a $78 million, investment from the Retirements Systems of Alabama, (RSA), to build a manufacturing facility for Si02, in Auburn. In Count 12, Hubbard represented Robert Abrams before the Alabama Department of Commerce. In Count 13 Hubbard represented Robert Abrams before the Governor.

Counts 15 through 19 allege, that Hubbard received illegal investments for his business interest Craftmaster Printers, Inc.

These Counts charge that Hubbard received investments from Will Brooke, Dax Swatek, Jimmy Rane, Jim Barton, James Holbrook, contrary to the ethics law.

Brooke is a Birmingham-based investment banker, Swatek is a lobbyist and a longtime ally of Hubbard’s.

Barton, is the Chairman of Hoar Construction in Birmingham.

Rane, also known as the “Yella Fella,” is President and Chairman of Great American Woods, and Holbrook is the former head of investment house, Sterns Agee.

James Holbrook is currently under Federal investigation.

In Count 20, Hubbard is accused of receiving help from former Gov. Bob Riley to obtain new clients for his business interest, Auburn Network.

In Count 21, Hubbard is charged with receiving “consulting assistance and support” from Riley’s daughter, Minda Riley Campbell, for his Auburn Network.

Count 22, accuses Hubbard of receiving “assistance with obtaining new clients for Auburn Network,” from Billy Canary, the head of the Business Council of Alabama, (BCA).

In the final Count, Hubbard is charged with receiving assistance with obtaining new clients for Auburn Network and/or financial advice regarding Craftmaster Printers, from Will Brooke, Board Member of the Business Council of Alabama.

COUNT 1

Hubbard is charged as Chairman of the Republican Party: intentionally used his position or office for obtaining personal gain from the ALGOP by purchasing from Craftmaster Printers. (See articles here and here.)

COUNT 2

Hubbard is charged as Chairman of the Republican Party: intentionally used his position or office for obtaining personal gain from the ALGOP by purchasing from Auburn Network.

COUNT 3

Hubbard is charged as Chairman of the Republican Party: intentionally used his position or office for obtaining personal gain from the ALGOP by purchasing from Majority Strategies, for himself or a business he with which he is associated, to wit: Craftmaster. (See articles here and here.)

COUNT 4

Hubbard is charged as Chairman of the Republican Party: intentionally used his position or office for obtaining personal gain through  Tim Howe d/b/a The Howe Group, LLC and/or SRM Media and Advertising, LLC for himself or a business with which he is associated, to wit: Auburn Network.

COUNT 5

Hubbard is charged as Speaker of the Alabama House of Representatives: “did intentionally vote for legislation to wit: Senate Bill 143 of the 2013 Regular Legislative Session, and he knew or should have known that he had a conflict of interest.”

SB143 was the bill in which Hubbard attempted to add 23 words making American Pharmacy Cooperative Inc. (APCI), the sole eligible provider for pharmacy benefits management in Alabama. (See article here.)

COUNT 6

Hubbard is charged as Speaker of the Alabama House of Representatives: soliciting or receiving a “thing of value” from APCI to Auburn Network.

COUNT 7

Hubbard is charged as Speaker of the Alabama House of Representatives of “such use and gain were not otherwise specifically authorized by law” from Southeast Alabama Gas District (SEAGD) to Auburn Network. (See article here.)

COUNT 8

Hubbard is charged as the Speaker of the Alabama House of Representatives as representing a person, firm, corporation, or other business entity, (SEAGD) before an Executive department or agency, The Alabama Department of Commerce.

COUNT 9

Hubbard is charged as the Speaker of the Alabama House of Representatives as representing a person, firm, corporation, or other business entity, (SEAGD) before an Executive department or agency, The Governor for the State of Alabama.

COUNT 10

Hubbard is charged as the Speaker of the Alabama House of Representatives for receiving from a lobbyist, subordinate of a lobbyist, or principal of Edgenuity, inc. and/or E2020 (a data provider specializing in online education software in Wetumpka) to Auburn Network.

COUNT 11

Hubbard was charged with using his office for personal gain in receiving money from Robert Abrams, DBA, CV Holdings, LLC., to Auburn Network, in violation of Section 36-25-5(a) of the Code of Alabama (1975), against the peace and dignity of the State of Alabama.

COUNT 12

Hubbard was charged with intentionally, for a fee, reward, or other compensation, “represent a person, firm, corporation, or other business entity, to wit,” Robert Abrams, DBA, CV Holdings, LLC., before an executive department or agency, The Alabama Department of Commerce, in violation of Section 36-25-1.1 of the Code of Alabama (1975), against the peace and dignity of the State of Alabama. (See article here.)

COUNT 13

Hubbard is charged as the Speaker of the Alabama House of Representatives as representing a person, firm, corporation, or other business entity, Robert Abrams d/b/a CV Holdings, LLC before an executive department or agency, The Governor for the State of Alabama.

COUNT 14

Hubbard is charged as the Speaker of the Alabama House of Representatives as using equipment, facilities, time, materials, human labor, or other public property under his discretion or control, to wit: a State computer, a State email account, or the human labor and/or the time of himself and another State employee for the private benefit or business benefit of the public official from Robert Abrams d/b/a CV Holdings, LLC to Auburn Network.

COUNT 15

Hubbard was charged with: did materially solicit a thing of value, to wit: an investment in Craftmaster Printer, from a lobbyist, subordinate of a lobbyist, or principal, to wit: Dax Swatek, in violation of Section 36-25- 5.1(a) of the Code of Alabama (1975), against the peace and dignity of the State of Alabama. (See article here.)

COUNT 16

Hubbard was charged with intentionally soliciting, of receiving a  $150,000.00 investment in Craftmaster Printer, from Will Brooke, Board Member of the Business Council of Alabama (BCA), violation of Section 36-25- 5.1(a) of the Code of Alabama (1975), against the peace and dignity of the State of Alabama.

COUNT 17

Hubbard was charged with intentionally soliciting, of receiving a  $150,000.00 investment hin Craftmaster Printer, from James Holbrook and/or Sterne Agee Group, Inc., in violation of Section 36-25-5.1(a) of the Code of Alabama, against the peace and dignity of the State of Alabama.

COUNT 18

Hubbard was charged with intentionally soliciting, of receiving a  $150,000.00 investment in Craftmaster Printer, from Jimmy Rane, President of Great Southern Wood, in violation of Section 36-25-5.1(a) of the Code of Alabama (1975), against the peace and dignity of the State of Alabama.

COUNT 19

Hubbard was charged with intentionally soliciting, of receiving a  $150,000.00 investment in Craftmaster Printer, from Robert Burton, President of Hoar Construction, m violation of Section 36-25-5.1(a) of the Code of Alabama (1975), against the peace and dignity of the State of Alabama.

COUNT 20

Hubbard was charged with intentionally soliciting, of receiving a thing of value from Bob Riley, in violation of Section 36-25-5.1(a) of the Code of Alabama (1975), against the peace and dignity of the State of Alabama.

COUNT 21

Hubbard was charged with intentionally soliciting, of receiving a thing of value, consulting assistance, from Minda Riley Campbell, in violation of Section 36-25-5.1(a) of the Code of Alabama (1975), against the peace and dignity of the State of Alabama.

COUNT 22

Hubbard was charged with intentionally soliciting, of receiving a thing of value from Billy Canary , in violation of Section 36-25-5.1(a)  of the Code of Alabama (1975), against the peace and dignity of the State of Alabama.

COUNT 23

Hubbard was charged with intentionally soliciting, of receiving a thing of value by receiving assistance with obtaining new clients for Auburn Network and/or financial advice regarding Craftmaster Printers, from Will Brooke, Board Member of the Business Council of Alabama (“BCA”), in violation of Section 36-25-5.1(a) of the Code of Alabama (1975), against the peace and dignity of the State of Alabama.

 

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Opinion | Inside the Statehouse: Buck’s pocket

Steve Flowers

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You voted Tuesday on a crowded ballot.

Historically, in Alabama we have voted more heavily in our Governor’s race year than in a presidential year. That is probably because we were more interested in the local sheriff and probate judge’s races, which run in a gubernatorial year, than who is president. The old adage, “all politics is local,” definitely applies here in Alabama.

We not only have a governor’s race this year, we have all secondary statewide offices with a good many of them open including Lt. Governor, Attorney General, State Treasurer, Auditor, and two seats on the Public Service Commission. We have five seats on the State Supreme Court, one being Chief Justice. All 140 seats in the Legislature are up for a four-year term. These 35 state Senate seats and 105 House contests are where most of the special interest PAC money will go. And, yes, we have 67 sheriffs and 68 probate judges as well as a lot of circuit judgeships on the ballot.

You may think the campaigning is over. However, some of the above races have resulted in a runoff which will be held on July 17. So get ready, we have six more weeks of campaigning before all the horses are settled on for the sprint in November.

We have a lot of folks headed to Buck’s Pocket. Last year after the open Senate seat contest, a young TV reporter for one of the stations I do commentary for asked me about Roy Moore and his loss. I told her ole Moore had gotten on his horse, Sassy, and ridden off into the sunset to Buck’s Pocket, which by the way wasn’t a long ride from his home in Gallant in Etowah County. She looked at me with a puzzled look. Probably a lot of you are also wondering what I’m talking about when I refer to Buck’s Pocket.

For decades, losing political candidates in Alabama have been exiled to Buck’s Pocket.  It is uncertain when or how the colloquialism began, but political insiders have used this terminology for at least 60 years.  Alabama author, Winston Groom, wrote a colorful allegorical novel about Alabama politics and he referred to a defeated gubernatorial candidate having to go to Buck’s Pocket.  Most observers credit Big Jim Folsom with creating the term.  He would refer to the pilgrimage and ultimate arrival of his opponents to the political purgatory reserved for losing gubernatorial candidates.

This brings me to another contention surrounding Buck’s Pocket. Many argue that Buck’s Pocket is reserved for losing candidates in the governor’s race. Others say Buck’s Pocket is the proverbial graveyard for all losing candidates in Alabama.

One thing that all insiders agree on is that once you are sent to Buck’s pocket you eat poke salad for every meal. Groom also suggested that you were relegated to this mythical rural resting place forever. However, history has proven that a good many defeated Alabama politicians have risen from the grave and left Buck’s Pocket to live another day. Roy Moore may be a good example. He has risen from the grave before. He is only 70, and he may grow weary of eating poke sallet.

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Most folks don’t know that there really is a Buck’s Pocket. Big Jim would campaign extensively in rural North Alabama often one on one on county roads. One day while stumping in the remote Sand Mountain area of DeKalb County he wound up in an area referred to as Buck’s Pocket. It was a beautiful and pristine area, but it was sure enough back in the woods. Big Jim who loved the country and loved country folks was said to say that, “I love the country but I sure wouldn’t want to be sent to Buck’s Pocket to live.”

Buck’s pocket is now not a mythical place. If you are traveling up the interstate past Gadsden, on the way to Chattanooga, you will see it. There is a Buck’s Pocket State Park in DeKalb County, thanks to Big Jim.

So the next time you hear an old timer refer to a defeated candidate as going to Buck’s Pocket, you will know what they are talking about.

See you next week.

Steve Flowers is Alabama’s leading political columnist. His weekly column appears in over 60 Alabama newspapers. He served 16 years in the state legislature. Steve may be reached at www.steveflowers.us.

 

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In Case You Missed It

Hubbard’s Lee County Trial Finally Ends in Silence

Bill Britt

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By Bill Britt
Alabama Political Reporter

MONTGOMERY—The post-trial appeal of convicted felon and former Speaker of the House, Mike Hubbard, finally expired on September 8, in silence, according to the Attorney General’s office calculations.

For almost four years, Hubbard, aided by his criminal lawyers, used the State House, the Governor’s Office and some within the Attorney General’s office to deny, deflect and delay justice. Hubbard stormed the State House presiding over an orgy of greed and corruption. Those days are over for Hubbard and so is any appeal before the circuit court of Lee County.

Under Rule 24.4 of the Alabama Rules of Criminal Procedure, Hubbard’s motion for a new trial, dismissal and/or an investigation by the Lee County Sheriff were denied by operation of law because Judge Jacob Walker, III, did nothing.

Under the Rules of Criminal Procedure, “no motion for a new trial or motion… shall remain pending in the trial court for more than sixty days after the pronouncement of sentence.” Hubbard’s sentencing July 8, on 12 felony counts of public corruption, means as of September 8, the calendar has run out for him, with Judge Walker deciding not to rule at all.

Under Rule 24.4: Denial by operation of law. “A failure by the trial court to rule on such a motion within the sixty (60) days allowed by this section shall constitute a denial of the motion as of the sixtieth day.”

At his post-trial hearing, Hubbard’s attorneys made their last stand in Lee County, with Bill Baxley arguing that his client was blindsided, bushwhacked and bamboozled, to no avail.

The Lee County case of the State of Alabama versus Michael G. Hubbard is over. He has a right to appeal his conviction to the Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals within 42 days, which expires on October 20.

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Hubbard’s past efforts show he will seek every avenue available to delay his incarceration.

Every previous motion that Hubbard has set before the Court of Criminal Appeals, was denied without opinion. Many believe this same fate awaits Hubbard’s next appeal before the high court.

Hubbard’s days of freedom are rapidly coming to an end. His appeal was silently denied and most didn’t even notice. He is rapidly becoming yesterday’s news.

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In Case You Missed It

Hubbard’s Post-Trial Snoozer

Bill Britt

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By Bill Britt
Alabama Political Reporter

OPELIKA—While searching for any thread of an argument that might lead to a new trial for convicted felon Mike Hubbard—once the most powerful politico in the state—attorney Bill Baxley whined, fretted and accused state prosecutors of blindsiding, bushwhacking and bamboozling his client.

Having written about Hubbard’s misdeeds since late 2012, the courtroom drama ending with his conviction makes Baxley’s latest attempt at the September 2 hearing feel like Hubbard trial 2.0 ad nauseam. Only Baxley’s fantastical leaps of legal logic and strained linguistic gymnastics kept the proceedings remotely interesting. Baxley argued several points, only winning on one issue with Judge Walker’s ruling that Hubbard would not be required to pay $1.125 million in restitution, as the prosecution asked.

Before the hearing began, Hubbard’s criminal defense team filed a motion to unseal all court documents related to the case, except one document. Baxley indicated that Judge Jacob Walker knew “the one” he referred too. After some legal wrangling by the prosecution and with Judge Walker, the defense was directed to construct a list of documents to be unsealed. Judge Walker’s decision was followed by Baxley huffing and puffing. Finally, he made reference to testimony given by Professor Bennett L. Gershman a “so-called” expert in prosecutorial misconduct. Hubbard filed to have Gershman’s testimony unsealed in 2015, to no avail.

Testimony given by former State Ethics Directors James “Jim” Sumner is central to Hubbard’s motion to dismiss or grant a new trial, neither of which is likely to occur. But, Baxley and company need to earn the additional $50,000 plus Hubbard recently raised from “friends.” Baxley argued it was improper for the State to present “expert” testimony about what various portions of the ethics statute mean, and whether certain phrases or clauses within those statutes would or would not encompass certain situations or events. The court seemed unmoved by Baxley’s logic since Judge Walker certified Sumner as an expert.

During the two-hour hearing, Baxley’s delaying tactics appeared to try Judge Walker’s patience, especially when the defense claimed they were unprepared to hear testimony concerning jury misconduct. Judge Walker said he set aside other cases to hear Hubbard’s claims of jury misconduct, a surprising claim that surfaced quickly after Hubbard’s conviction.

Hubbard’s criminal defense team citing an affidavit from a panel member filed a motion just days after Hubbard’s conviction calling for an investigation into jury misconduct by an impartial third party. In searching for a neutral investigator, Baxley determined Hubbard’s friend Lee County Sheriff Jay Jones was the best choice.

From the bench, Judge Walker informed Baxley that there is no legal basis for an outside investigation, and that testimony would be taken before his court to settle the matter. Baxley claimed the defense was once again unprepared for such at the hearing, and the juror who reported the alleged misconduct was unavailable.

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Judge Walker questioned the two bailiffs and the court administrators who oversaw Hubbard’s trial. Bailiff Bobby Bond testified that he was instructed by court administrator Patricia Campbell, to caution a juror who reportedly was talking under her breath at the beginning of Hubbard’s trial. Bond said he issued the warning, but the juror denied the allegations and no further complaints were noted. Both Bailiffs who rotated sitting next to the jury box during the proceedings testified they never heard chatter from any jurors.

Under oath, Campbell confirmed she had received the complaint and reported it to Judge Walker, who ordered her to address the situation through the bailiffs. Baxley asked Campbell what was said. She remembered the accusing juror of claiming a fellow juror said, “Yes, now the truth comes out.”

Defense co-council Lance Bell rose to claim that Hubbard had not received a fair trial an assertion soon rebutted by the prosecution.
He, along with Baxley said the jury was not impartial, and Hubbard should receive, at least, a new trial. Arguing for the prosecution, Assistant Attorney General Katie Langer cited case law and explained the split verdict showed they were, in fact, impartial because otherwise, the trial would have ended with a hung jury.

As Judge Walker pointed out several times, the clock is ticking with very few days remaining before the 60 day deadline brings all proceeding before his court to a close. The trial judge may rule on these motion or simply wait out the clock.

 

Photo Credit: Albert Cesare/Montgomery Advertiser/Pool

 

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In Case You Missed It

Attorney General Reacts to Hubbard Loyalist’s Plans for Ethics Reform

Bill Britt

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By Bill Britt
Alabama Political Reporter

MONTGOMERY—Alabama House Ethics Committee Chairman, Mike Ball (R-Madison), announced his plans (yesterday) to form a commission to review the state’s ethics laws. Ball, a staunch defender of convicted felon and former House Speaker, Mike Hubbard, told WHNT-TV in Huntsville that his committee would “review the State’s Ethics laws and recommend improvements in time for the opening of the Alabama Legislature next year.”

However, just hours after APR published its story on Ball’s plan, Attorney General Luther Strange, sent his comments.  “I am strongly opposed to Rep. Mike Ball’s idea of a commission to review Alabama’s ethics law. The whole point of such a commission would be to undermine the law,” said Strange.  “Alabamians want our ethics laws enforced, not gutted.”

Ball also said he wanted an “open and honest” process, stating, “Our best chance for success is for it to be carefully looked at, out in the open.” Ball claims he is determined to stop three ethics bills from coming to the House because he didn’t want them “lost in the mix, however, there is a reason to believe other forces are at work, especially given Speaker McCutcheon’s promise of principled leadership.”

It would be difficult to fathom a Hubbard loyalist overseeing a commission to amend laws that landed his former boss in prison.

The day after Hubbard’s indictment, Ball stood by his side at a pep rally proclaiming his boss’s innocence while sporting an “I Like Mike” sticker on his lapel.

Ball regularly appeared on talk radio accusing State prosecutors of conducting a political witch hunt to ensnare Hubbard.

In April 2015, Ball testified in a pre-trial hearing that Hubbard’s arrest was politically motivated. Under oath, Ball said the ethics laws needed amending to avoid prosecutions like Hubbard’s in the future.

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Presiding Circuit Court Judge Jacob Walker, III allowed Ball to testify, even though he said Ball’s testimony was not relevant to Hubbard’s indictments. Judge Walker ruled that accusations against Special Division’s Chief Matt Hart were not only irrelevant, but unfounded.

Ball is one of the remaining Hubbard loyalists at the State House.

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