By Bill Britt
Alabama Political Reporter
MONTGOMERY—In the last ten months, three House Speakers from around the country have been indicted and one is under investigation. Two have been forced from office and one has stepped down on his own.
Here, in the Heart of Dixie, Speaker Mike Hubbard stubbornly refuses to yield.
And why not? Hubbard has enjoyed an exceptional public relations coups since his indictment on 23 felony counts of public corruption. From his pep rally in October to his reelection as Speaker in January, his PR campaign has won at almost every turn. Like Nero after his failed attempt to kill his mother in secret, Hubbard has turned disaster into triumphant (Nero did eventually kill his mother, but through a careful crafted PR campaign he was able to spin his way out of any grave damage, at least for that treacherous act). And like Nero, Hubbard may say, “That I am safe, neither, as yet, do I believe, nor do I rejoice.”
In South Carolina, House Speaker Bobby Harrell in a nine-count indictment was charged with two counts of misconduct in office, six counts of using campaign funds for personal use, and one count of false reporting candidate campaign disclosures.
The outrage over Harrell’s actions resulted in even Republican Governor Nikki Haley calling for him to step down as speaker.
The charges against Harrell are all misdemeanors, yet in the Palmetto State, the Governor and the Republican legislators told Harrell his was time to go.
In Rhode Island, House Speaker Gordon Fox resigned from his post after the FBI raided his home and office. Fox has not yet been charged with a crime, he is just under investigation. In a press statement Fox said, “Because of the respect I have for all members of the House of Representatives, I am resigning as Speaker. The process of governing must continue and the transition of leadership must be conducted in an orderly manner… That said, I do not intend to seek another term in the House.”
In the Ocean State, it appears even the specter of scandal is cause for a speaker to relinquish his office.
New York’s powerful speaker, Democrat Sheldon Silver, only seceded his power after the state’s media and fellow Democrats called for his head.
Silver is charged with “defrauding voters by accepting millions of dollars in bribes, according to the government in which he ‘monetized his office, using attorney referral fees to garner millions without doing a lick of work’ and funneling state money towards members of this scheme.”
According to governing.com, “as more and more lawmakers read the federal charges against him since they were made public last Thursday, rank-and-file Democrats were increasingly losing faith in having someone lead their chamber given the seriousness of the allegations against him and after a decade of corruption exhaustion in Albany.”
New York’s Democratically-controlled State government is known as one of the most corrupt in the nation but even in the Empire State, it appears, a speaker that defiantly tries to hold on to power is overwhelmed when the hard facts are known about his behavior.
The charges against Harrell and Silver are not as numerous or perhaps as egregious as those against Hubbard, and Fox is only under investigation; but the three have stepped aside.
Hubbard continues not only to keep his powerful position, but actually seems to be thriving in it.
As more facts come to light concerning the allegations against Hubbard, perhaps the spin will be more difficult to keep in motion. Hubbard’s attorneys are praying that future evidence against him will be kept under seal; but this is unlikely.
For now Hubbard looks to be, as they say, “on a roll.”
In Alabama, unlike South Carolina, Rhode Island and New York, the indictment of the Speaker has little consequence. Unlike, South Carolina, Rhode Island and New York, here in the Heart of Dixie, 23 felony indictments are just not enough to demand a change of leadership.
Nero’s statement after his mother’s murder is believed to have been written by his teacher and adviser (PR consultant), Lucius Annaeus Seneca. It may be well to remember another of Seneca’s quotes, “He who does not prevent a crime when he can, encourages it.”