By Bill Britt
Alabama Political Reporter
The Alabama House of Representatives has disgraced the people of our State today by reelecting Mike Hubbard as Speaker. Hubbard is charged by the State with using his elected office for financial gain, which includes 23 counts of felony charges of public corruption. Yet, 99 out of 105 House members voted to return the Speaker’s gavel into his soiled hands.
In 2010, the Republican super majority passed what they called the toughest ethics laws in the country, and just a few months later, according to the State’s indictments, Hubbard decided to break them.
What does this say about the Republicans and Democrats who voted for Hubbard on Monday? Some have drunk from Hubbard’s prison cup so often that they can’t tell right from wrong. Others are too afraid to make him mad, and the rest just see it as politics as usual. Patrick Henry famously said, “Give me liberty or give me death.” It would appear that many in the State House would not even suffer a paper cut for principle.
President Herbert said, “When there is a lack of honor in government, the morals of the whole people are poisoned.” On Monday, members of the House showed they care less about morals than they do about power. The people of our State have been poisoned and they don’t even know it. So, it is as Thomas Moore wrote, “If honor were profitable, everybody would be honorable.”
“But what profits a man if he gains the world and loses his soul,” the scriptures asks. Are we not here on earth to struggle against evil, to give our heart and strength to what is right, even in the face of trouble?
Honorable leaders are men and women who take upon their backs the burden of living righteously in the face of evil. Is comfort so precious that we yield sacred principles rather than face the displeasure of a man like Hubbard? I would rather face the whip than bow my head to such a man of low character.
Several representatives keep repeating, “innocent until proven guilty” as if it were a mantra to assuage sin. I don’t think that expression means what they think it means.
The “Presumption of Innocence” is our legal principle that requires the government to prove the guilt of a criminal defendant and relieves the defendant of any burden to prove his or her innocence, according to several legal dictionaries. In Hubbard’s case, 18 citizens of Lee County after hearing a multitude of facts, found probable cause for Hubbard to be arrested on 23 felony counts of public corruption. The court in Lee County demanded that he post bail and if Hubbard had not posted the required bail he would be still be sitting in the county jail awaiting his trial.
How is that for innocent until proven guilty? Would the House members have reelected him Speaker if he were still behind bars? I doubt it. The only reason Hubbard is Speaker is because too many fear him and courage is in short supply. Perhaps that is understandable is this world of politics where the sore pains of personal compromise are soothed with lavish favors, big campaign dollars and power.
We wouldn’t allow a person charged with 23 counts of child endangerment to spend even one day running a day care. Would a preacher charged with 23 counts of stealing the church funds be allowed to continue in the pulpit? What if a police officer were charged with 23 counts of using his badge for personal gain? Would he be allowed to remain on duty? Of course not, but the majority of the men and women of the Alabama House don’t seem to care and that is dishonorable.
Hubbard is a cancer that has invaded the entire body politic of our State and there seems to be no one in the House who is willing to wield the blade that will cut it clean.
Until Hubbard is gone, honor will not be restored.