By Bill Britt
Alabama Political Reporter
Currently, our State government finds itself in a time of moral crisis. This crisis has been caused by the Speaker of the House, Mike Hubbard, whose extraordinary greed and blatant disregard for the law has brought shame upon Alabama.
This crisis is real and immediate. Yet, it seems as if no one in the Republican party has even noticed.
Hubbard did not act alone, and therefore, his is not the only head on which this dishonor must rest.
Hubbard supplied the seeds of corruption, but other hands helped sow the fields. Those who enabled him, and those who ignored his crimes, all bare a measure of guilt for his poisonous harvest. Many are contaminated simply by their complicity, others by there willful neglect.
John Adams wrote, “Because power corrupts, society’s demands for moral authority and character increase as the importance of the position increases.”
But, where is this moral authority and character to be found?
Former Gov. Bob Riley and Billy Canary, Chairman of the Business Council of Alabama (BCA) have been Hubbard’s most potent enablers. Both men are named in the Hubbard indictments, but for now, the prosecution is referring to them as material witnesses, not suspects or un-indicted co-conspirators.
It is not known if Riley or Canary are cooperating with the State’s prosecution of Hubbard, but many believe this to be the case.
Sen. Del Marsh, who is expected to be reelected as Senate President Pro Tem in January, was also one of Hubbard’s enablers, and he has most certainly been a witness to many of the crimes of which the State has accused Hubbard.
Marsh, who testified before the Lee County Grand Jury for almost six hours, has stated publicly that he will not be charged with any crimes in connection with Hubbard’s indictments.
Marsh knows a lot about Hubbard’s activities, has he turned state’s evidence to save himself or did he just dance close to the flame but not so near as to get burned?
As Finance Chairman of the ALGOP during Hubbard’s tenure, surely Marsh was aware that Hubbard was passing money from the party to his business interests as is described in counts 1-4 of the Grand Jury Indictments.
To think that Marsh was unaware that Hubbard was routing hundreds of thousands of dollars in campaign contributions back into his own pockets is absolutely ludicrous.
Likewise, Marsh was aware of Hubbard’s scheme to place 23 words into the General Fund Budget to benefit APCI, as outlined in count 5 of the Grand Jury indictments. Marsh even appointed himself to the joint conference committee that dealt with the addition of the wording to benefit APCI. The 23 words would have remained in the budget had not Governor Robert Bentley threatened to expose Hubbard’s scheme.
And, there are many others who either enabled Hubbard, or stood by silently as he enriched himself.
Herein, lies the crisis: Hubbard’s dishonesty is like a cancer that has metastasized and spread to every corner of our State government, and no one save the men and women of the Attorney General’s Office did anything to stop him.
This deliberate failure and willful neglect to confront Hubbard by members of the republican caucus hangs in the air like the foul smell of a rotting corpse.
A “sin of omission” is defined in the Catholic Encyclopedia as a “failure to do something one can and ought to do.” Failure to act or willful omission is a breach of moral law, and is antithetical to the code of conduct required of elected officials.
John Locke wrote, “We are like chameleons, we take our hue and the color of our moral character, from those who are around us.”
Hubbard did not storm the State House as he said in his vanity publication of the same name, he sacked it. And far too many stood by and watched as it burned. What is worse, is that not a single Republican has called for Hubbard to step aside.
But Hubbard should not be the only one forced out of leadership, so should his enablers and in the current leadership who knew what he was doing and failed to act.
It could be that only Hubbard will be charged with breaking the law. But, others stood very close to that bonfire of corruption.
Now we must ask: Who are the men and women who will show moral character and end this crisis before the State House, becomes little more than a House of Shame?