By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter
On Tuesday, October 21, the Alabama Political Reporter talked with Alabama Republican Party Chairman Bill Armistead about the recent arrest of Speaker of the Alabama House of Representatives Mike Hubbard (R from Auburn).
Alabama has a general election every four years. The state elects the bodies of both houses of the State legislature, the Governor, the Lieutenant Governor, the Attorney General, the Secretary of State, seven members of Congress, the auditor, even one U.S. Senator and numerous other offices as well as five constitutional amendments in just two weeks.
Republicans have completely dominated State politics since 2010 when dissatisfaction with the policies of President Obama and with the Democratic majorities in Montgomery swept Republicans into power. To this point Republican candidates had appeared to be cruising to another crushing of their Democratic rivals in races across the State. That GOP election domination was perhaps challenged on Monday when perhaps the most powerful Republican in the State, Speaker Mike Hubbard, was arrested on 23 indictment which were handed down by the Lee County Grand Jury on Friday, October 17.
Some of those indictments go all the way back to that 2010 election when then House Minority Leader Hubbard was the Alabama Republican Party Chairman. Chairman Bill Armistead was elected Chairman following Mike Hubbard’s tenure.
The Alabama Political Reporter asked Armistead if we went ahead and assumed the absolute worst and that Mike did break laws, doesn’t that have nothing to do with any of the other GOP candidates running in two weeks and that people should still be voting GOP if they really believe in the ideas of small government, low taxes, constitutional government, and don’t trust the policies of Barack H. Obama?
Chairman Armistead agreed and said, “The people ought to be looking at the individual candidates that are on the ballot and not looking at one candidate who has been charged with possible wrongdoing,” when they go to the polls in two weeks.
APR asked: Some of the counts go back to when Mike Hubbard was Chairman of the Alabama GOP and you were a member of the steering committee. You know and worked with Mike, do you believe that he intentionally used the party to make his companies money?
Chairman Armistead said that he was not going to get involved in that and will just let the legal process work.
APR asked: Some of those counts were first uncovered in a GOP audit which flagged them as irregularities. Do you now regret doing the audit given that likely help lead to the investigative Grand Jury which indicted Mike (Hubbard)?
Chairman Armistead said that it has been his policy not to discuss the ALGOP audit with the press.
APR asked Armistead: What procedures has the party put in place to protect itself from repeating possible conflicts of interest like what is alleged to have occurred under Mike’s tenure as Chairman, in the future?
Chairman Armistead replied: “Two things: I have set up a financial oversight committee and set up a process of doing an audit every two years. I pledged to perform an audit when I ran for Chairman.”
APR asked: Some Democrats jumped to Facebook and social media to proclaim that (Speaker) Hubbard is guilty and even some Democratic candidates released statements presupposing guilt. On the other hand there were some Republicans who jumped out there to claim prosecutors had nothing, this is a political prosecution and that Mike is innocent. Given that all any of us know is from a one page prosecution press release that says Mike has been arrested and lists 23 indictments with little detail, aren’t both sides getting ahead of the facts when even the defense hasn’t yet seen the evidence?
Chairman Armistead said, “Absolutely we have to wait until we see the evidence.” Armistead said that it is very important in America that everyone be presumed innocent until they are proven guilty.
The popular ALGOP Chairman told APR, “I am hopeful that there are no convictions.”
Armistead said however if wrong doing has occurred then the legal process should play itself out.
In an official statement released just hours after Hubbard’s arrest Chairman Armistead said, “No one needs to rush to judgment. Right now, all we have is a list of charges. We don’t have the Speaker’s position on these matters and to speculate about them would be unfair to him and an exercise in futility, since we do not know whether any of these charges are true. Again, everybody in our system of justice who is accused of a crime is presumed innocent and must be proven guilty ‘beyond a reasonable doubt’ in order to be convicted.”
Chairman Armistead said, “It saddens me that this has happened. In addition to being Speaker of the Alabama House, Mike Hubbard is a human being and anytime something like this happens it is a human tragedy, regardless of the ultimate outcome. My family and I will be praying for Mike and his family. We hope for a swift and just outcome to these matters.”
Following the spectacular GOP success of the 2010 election, former Alabama Republican Party Chairman Mike Hubbard (R from Auburn) stepped down from his Chairmanship to assume the responsibilities of Speaker of the Alabama House of Representatives.
Bill Armistead was a former State Senator and a member of the ALGOP Steering Committee at the time. He defeated State Representative Jay Love for the post in early 2011. Armistead was re-elected by the Alabama Republican Party Executive Committee in early 2013 defeating then Shelby County Republican Party Chairman Matt Fridy. Both Fridy and Love were publicly backed by Mike Hubbard.
The General Election will be Tuesday, November 3.