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Hubbard’s Attorneys Ask State To Identify Witnesses Mental Health, Drug Abuse and More

Bill Britt

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By Bill Britt
Alabama Political Reporter

MONTGOMERY—Speaker of the House Mike Hubbard’s defense team is on a fishing expedition to find addicts, mental patients, criminals and anyone receiving payola.

Hubbard, who is charged by the State with 23 counts of public corruption, is preparing his defense by asking the State to supply his legal team with a laundry list of materials.

In the discovery filing, J. Mark White, Augusta S. Dowd , William M. Bowen, Jr., Katherine R. Brown, W. Chambers Waller and R. Lance Bell are all listed as members of Hubbard’s legal defense team. In the background lurks Hubbard’s master attorney, Rob Riley, son of former Gov. Bob Riley, who is listed in the Hubbard indictments.

In the motion for discovery, Hubbard’s team wants to know all of the “dirt” on all of the witnesses the State plans on use during their prosecution.

(See motion here.)

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They have requested:

The criminal records of all prosecution witnesses including prior convictions and cases pending at the present time or at the time of Hubbard’s arrest.

Any information of criminal conduct by any witness for the prosecution, although such person has not been arrested, indicted, or otherwise charged for such conduct.

Any evidence of law enforcement officers, investigators, or prosecutors making monetary payments to, or promises of monetary payments to, any material witness or informant in this case.

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Any alias or other names used by any prosecution witness.

Any evidence of mental or emotional illness, drug or alcohol use by any of the prosecution’s witnesses.

Any information pertaining to whether any prosecution witness has been hospitalized for psychiatric or emotional disorders, including alcoholism or drug abuse, and, if so, the names of the institutions involved and the dates of any hospitalization(s).

It would be difficult to imagine who exactly the defense is fishing for, but the why of the expedition is simple: to discredit anyone who intends to give information about the crimes Hubbard is accused of committing.

Some of the potential witnesses against Hubbard are known. There is speculation about others. Then, their will be individuals who are only known to those who cover the State House.

Potential witnesses who are known are those listed in Hubbard’s indictments and, of course, former legislator Rep. Greg Wren, who turned State’s evidence back in April.

It is also know that Gov. Robert Bentley gave testimony about Hubbard lobbying him on behalf of Robert Abrams, d/b/a CV Holdings, LLC.

Potential witness number one is Gov. Robert Bentley, the man who Alabamians reelected in a landslide. Bentley is arguably the most trusted individual in the State.

It is doubtful that Hubbard’s defense team is digging for dirt on the Governor, no matter how aggressive J. Mark White enjoys appearing in the press.

Other possible witnesses are former Gov. Riley, who while publicly supporting Hubbard, said that he was fully cooperating with law enforcement. Is this political rhetoric or is this a case of, “I support Mike, but, hey Mr. Prosecutor, I’m with you?”

Business leaders Robert Abrams, James Holbrook, Will Brooke, Robert Barton and Jimmy Rane are listed in the Hubbard felony indictments, and are, by most opinions, either targets, witnesses, or both.

Billy Canary, Dax Swatek, Tim Howe and Minda Riley Campbell are also among those who are possible targets, witnesses, or both.

Swatek and Howe are partners with John Ross and David Azbell at the firm, SAHR. Each man has very close ties with Hubbard. Azbell co-authored Hubbard’s vanity publication, Storming the State House, and was paid $96,000 a year by the taxpayers to offer PR for the House Caucus.

As for Ross, he was the Republican Party Executive Director during the period that Hubbard stands accused of violating State ethics laws (for funneling money from the party back into his business interests Craftmaster Printers, LLC). Azbell and Ross certainly sit high on the list of potential witnesses for the prosecution.

There is also Bill Ely and Ferrell Patrick who were both involved in lobbying for American Pharmacy Cooperative Inc, (APCI)  during that period as well.

Under the prosecution of that indictment there are a host of former and current lawmakers who are potential witnesses.

Former lawmakers, Rep. Jay Love and Rep. Jim Barton might fit into that category, as well as currently serving lawmakers Rep. Steve Clouse, Sen. Arthur Orr, and Sen. Del Marsh, who were all in some way linked to the APCI, legislation.

The APCI indictments may also see the State’s Health and Medicaid director Dr. Donald Williamson take the stand. Williamson is believed to have been a least one of the first members of the Governor’s cabinet to realize that legislation backed by Hubbard would give APCI a monopoly over the State’s Medicaid Pharmacy Benefits Plan.

Regarding the indictments involving SEAGD, we may see taking the stand, Ozark Mayor Billy Blackwell, who served as chairman of the SEAGD board, Wiley Lott, Director of Economic Development and Governmental Affairs for SEAGD, and of course, John Gregory (Greg) Henderson the CEO, who is Hubbard’s wife’s first cousin.

There are certainly more, but it begs the question: which individuals do Hubbard’s attorneys think are drunks, druggies, mental cases, or criminals?

 

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Education

Alabama’s First Class Pre-K program gets more national attention

The article analyzed a recent study that found that students who attended the program were “statistically significantly more likely” to be proficient in both math and reading than those who did not.

Micah Danney

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(STOCK PHOTO)

The state’s First Class Pre-K program gives children advantages in math and reading that last into middle school, far longer than the gains studied in other high-quality pre-K programs, according to an article published in the International Journal of Child Care and Education Policy.

The article analyzed a recent study that found that students who attended the program were “statistically significantly more likely” to be proficient in both math and reading than those who did not.

While programs like Head Start and Tennessee’s pre-K program have been shown to lead to significant educational improvements when children enter kindergarten, those benefits appear to experience a “fadeout” within a year. 

The new research followed students through the 7th grade. Further research should examine the persistence of benefits through high school, according to the article, which was published by researchers from the University of Alabama at Birmingham, the Public Affairs Research Council of Alabama, ThinkData and the Alabama Department of Early Childhood Education.

The research “is reassuring and supports accountability for continued investments and expansion,” the article concluded.

The journal that featured the article is a publication of the National Institute of Early Education Research at Rutgers University.

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Congress

U.S. Rep. Bradley Byrne announces new chief of staff

Eddie Burkhalter

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U.S. Rep. Bradley Byrne

Congressman Bradley Byrne, R-Alabama, on Friday announced that Seth Morrow will serve as his chief of staff.

“As we enter the last half of 2020, my office remains busy assisting constituents and advancing our legislative priorities. I know Seth shares my focus on finishing out my term in Congress strong, and he is well prepared to move into the Chief of Staff role,” Byrne said in a statement. “My staff and I will continue working hard every day to fight for the people of Southwest Alabama and advance our conservative agenda.”

Morrow is a native of Guntersville and has worked for Byrne since June 2014, serving as deputy chief of staff and communications director. 

“I am grateful for this opportunity, and I’m committed to ensuring our office maintains our first class service to the people of Southwest Alabama. Congressman Byrne has always had the hardest working team on Capitol Hill, and I know we will keep that tradition going,” Morrow said in a statement.

Morrow replaces Chad Carlough, who has held the position of Byrne’s chief of staff since March 2017. 

“Chad has very ably led our Congressional team over the last few years, and I join the people of Southwest Alabama in thanking him for his dedicated service to our state and our country,” Byrne said. 

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Crime

Alabama Department of Corrections investigating inmate death

Robert Earl Adams, 40, died on Aug. 5 and although no foul play is suspected, a department spokeswoman in a message to APR said the exact cause of death is pending an autopsy.

Eddie Burkhalter

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(STOCK PHOTO)

The Alabama Department of Corrections is investigating the death of an inmate at the Donaldson Correctional Facility.

Robert Earl Adams, 40, died on Aug. 5 and although no foul play is suspected, a department spokeswoman in a message to APR said the exact cause of death is pending an autopsy.

“While Adams’ exact cause of death is pending the results of a full autopsy, at the time of his passing inmate Adams was not exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19, was not under quarantine following direct exposure to an inmate or staff member who previously had tested positive, and was not in medical isolation as a result of a positive COVID-19 test,” said ADOC spokeswoman Samantha Rose in the message.

Because Adams was not exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19, he had not been tested, Rose said.

An ADOC worker who contacted APR Friday morning about the death, who asked not to be identified for fear of repercussions from ADOC administrators, said it’s suspected that Adams may have overdosed after being given a cigarette laced with a drug.

Adams is at least the sixteenth state inmate to die this year from either homicide, suspected drug overdose or suicide. Additionally, fifteen inmates and two prison workers have died after testing positive for COVID-19.

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Alabama GOP chair: “We expect our elected officials to follow the law” after Dismukes arrest

“Will Dismukes matter: We expect our elected officials, regardless of Party, to follow the laws of our state and nation,” Alabama GOP chair Terry Lathan said on Twitter.

Brandon Moseley

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State Rep. Will Dismukes, R-Prattville, has been arrested on the charge of felony theft.

Alabama Republican Party Chair Terry Lathan said Thursday that Alabamians expect their leaders to follow the law. Her comments came in response to news that an arrest warrant had been issued for State Rep. Will Dismukes, R-Prattville, on the charge of felony theft.

“Will Dismukes matter: We expect our elected officials, regardless of Party, to follow the laws of our state and nation,” Lathan said on Twitter. “No one is immune to these standards. It is very disappointing to hear of these allegations. This is now a legal matter and it must run its course.”

Speaker of the House Mac McCutcheon, R-Monrovia, said Friday in a statement that Dismukes will get his day in court.

“As a former law enforcement officer, I have faith in the criminal justice process and trust that he will receive a full and fair hearing,” McCutcheon said. “Both Democrats and Republicans have been accused of similar crimes in the past, and we cannot tolerate such behavior whether the lawmaker involved has a D or an R beside their name.”

Dismukes has been charged by his former employer, a custom flooring company, of felony theft charges. Dismukes left that employer and started his own custom flooring company.

Dismukes, who is serving in his first term and is one of the youngest members of the Alabama Legislature, has been heavily criticized for his participation in a birthday party for Confederate Lt. General Nathan Bedford Forrest in Selma. Forrest was also the first grand wizard of the Ku Klux Klan.

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The party in Selma occurred the same week that Congressman John Lewis’s funeral events were happening in Selma. Dismukes resigned his position at Valley Baptist Church when the Southern Baptists threatened to disassociate the Prattville Church if they retained Dismukes. He has defiantly refused to step down from the Legislature, but if convicted of a felony, he would be automatically removed from office.

Both Democrats and Republicans have called for Dismukes to resign from the Alabama House of Representatives over his being the chaplain of the Prattville Sons of Confederate Veterans and his Facebook post lauding Forrest. The investigation into the theft predates the controversies surrounding Dismukes’s glorification of the Confederacy and Forrest.

Republican State Sen. Clyde Chambliss, who also represents Prattville, has called on Dismukes to resign.

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“Since first being elected in 1996, I’ve had a policy of not publicly criticizing other elected officials, but at this time I am making an exception since Rep. Dismukes is MY state representative. He does not represent my views or the views of the vast majority of people of District 88,” Chambliss said. “The post is bad enough, the timing is even worse, but the real problem is that an elected official in 2020 would attend a celebration of the life of someone that led a group that terrorized and killed other human beings. He has had 24 hours to understand why people are so upset, but his interview on WSFA a few moments ago confirms that he is lacking in understanding and judgment — he should resign immediately.”

Alabama Democratic Party Chairman State Rep. Chris England, D-Tuscaloosa, has repeatedly called for Dismukes to resign from the Alabama House of Representatives.

The Alabama Democratic Party recently said in a statement, “Will Dismukes is morally unfit for office. Republicans and Democrats statewide seem to agree. Unfortunately, despite the mounting calls for his immediate resignation, Will intends to stay in office and seek re-election without penalty from the Republican Party.”

“While Alabama Republicans hope this will be a distant memory when Dismukes runs for re-election in 2022, we are not going to let him off the hook,” the ADP wrote. “The Alabama Democratic Party is going to leverage every tool we have to send Will packing when he comes up for re-election in two years.”

“In our darkest hours in life there is still light in Christ!” Dismukes wrote on social media Wednesday. “As the storm continues to blow with heavy force, there is yet a peace that this too shall pass. I guess sometimes we find out if we have built our house on sand or the solid rock of Christ. Psalm 23.”

When Speaker of the House Mike Hubbard, R-Auburn, was indicted on 21 charges of felony ethics violations, he did not resign and actually remained speaker until a jury of his peers in Lee County convicted him on 12 counts.

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