By Bill Britt
Alabama Political Reporter
We hear it all the time: “They’re all the same.” That is what people say about Democratic and Republican politicians. Here in Alabama, most people have recently begun to vote Republican to a large degree, because they don’t like the President; but they still believe that all politicians are alike.
So, when Speaker of the House Mike Hubbard is charged by the State with 23 Felony counts of public corruption, people just shake their heads thinking, “They’re all the same.”
Now, if Republican lawmakers had called for Hubbard to step down from his leadership position, and even more so, if he had been forced to leave the House altogether, then people might have said, “Hmm, I guess those Republicans are different.” But, no one did and so the collective wisdom of the people is proven right:
“They’re all the same.”
When Hubbard and the Republicans of Alabama released their “Handshake with Alabama” in August 2010, they promised, among other things, to, “End[ing] Corruption in Montgomery.” Instead of ending it as promised since April 2014, four legislators have been arrested and one has had to resign in disgrace.
In the “Handshake” promise, they reminded voters that, “Democrats have held the majority in Montgomery for 136 years, and during that time, they created an atmosphere that breeds corruption and encourages graft. The recent criminal convictions of numerous Democratic legislators and other Democratic officials provides ample evidence of that fact.”
What does Hubbard’s arrest and indictment provide ample evidence of?
They’re all the same.
In the “Handshake” memo that originated from Hubbard’s office, the Republicans say that they would no longer tolerate, “legislators and other public officials…holding questionable contracts with government agencies and those wishing to do business with the State.”
Most of the Felony counts against Hubbard are related to holding questionable contracts and representing those wishing to do business with the State. Yet, when Hubbard is charged with these offenses, not a word is heard from Republican lawmakers. This again leads people to believe, “They’re all the same.”
The editorial board of the Dothan Eagle said it succinctly:
“Hubbard is considered innocent until proved guilty in court. However, we cannot forget that Hubbard crafted an attack on what he called ‘a culture of corruption in Montgomery’ to lead a sweeping GOP takeover of the legislature four years ago, wrestling control from Democrats who had held the majority for more than a century. Considering that he now stands accused of the same sort of corruption he used as a springboard to power, it’s reasonable to conclude that his ability to effectively lead our State’s governing body would be undermined by both his circumstances and the distraction of his defense preparations.”
The Eagle also says that for Republican legislator to allow him to remain in his position, “suggests that the perception of corruption is immaterial, which erodes public confidence in the prospect of a productive upcoming session.”
Sadly, the Dothan Eagle is the only publication, other than the Alabama Political Reporter, to call on the State’s lawmakers, to do what is right and remove Hubbard. Where is the Anniston Star, the Decatur Daily, the Gadsden Times, Montgomery Advertiser or AL.Com?
If Republican lawmakers will not stand up to corruption within their ranks, should not at the very least, the fourth estate call them to answer? Since when are editorial boards silent in the face of such blatant disregard for the people’s House? The State House does not belong to Hubbard or the Republican Party, it belongs to the citizens of Alabama.
More than once, Republican lawmakers have said they are biding their time to allow the courts to deal with the Hubbard situation. That is a coward’s stance, proving they’re all the same.
In the “Handshake with Alabama,” Hubbard said, “When you look someone in the eye, give them your word and shake their hand, you make a bond. This Handshake Agenda is our bond with the voters of Alabama, and if Republicans are successful in taking over the Legislature, these are the items we will immediately work to pass.”
The voters gave Hubbard the chance and he failed them. Completely.
But, not all Republicans are the same, but you can’t tell that from their actions. The State heard the Republican “Handshake promise” and they believed it. But, as any honest person knows, deeds, not words, are the proof of promise.
So, by leaving Hubbard to run the State, the Republicans have left the people with an example of how they are all the same.
There is time to change that perception, but the clock is ticking.