By Bill Britt
Alabama Political Reporter
MONTGOMERY—As the State legislature heads into its 2015 session, the number 23 will be an important one to remember. Speaker of the House Mike Hubbard, (R-Auburn) will guide the legislative agenda even though he has been indicted by the State on 23 felony counts of pubic corruption.
When Hubbard pushes for charter schools, it will be important to remember that Count 10 of the 23 felony charges against him involves Edgenuity, Inc. and/or E2020, which, according to the company’s profile, produces online course material that can be used at home or in the classroom.
The opening of charter schools around the State may very well prove to be a boom for the online course provider that paid Hubbard to lobby on its behalf.
Business Council of Alabama (BCA) has become the new power house behind Hubbard’s agenda for the State, and now, serves in much the same capacity as the once powerful Alabama Education Association AEA.
In Count 22, Hubbard is accused of receiving “assistance with obtaining new clients for Auburn Network,” from Billy Canary, the head of the Business Council of Alabama, (BCA). And in Count 23, Hubbard is charged with receiving assistance with obtaining new clients for Auburn Network and/or financial advice regarding Craftmaster Printers, from Will Brooke, Board Member of the Business Council of Alabama.
So, when a bill comes to the floor of the the House with the backing of BCA, legislators and concerned citizens should remember this extraordinary relationship with the man who holds the Speaker’s gavel.
Any bill introduced that will favor any special interest or company with ties to the lobbying firm of Swatek, Azbell, Howe and Ross, (SAHR) should be looked at more than once. In Count 4, Hubbard is accused of using his office for obtaining personal gain through Tim Howe d/b/a The Howe Group, LLC and/or SRM Media and Advertising, LLC.
Swatek is named in Count 15, where Hubbard is charged with soliciting an investment in Craftmaster Printer. However, Swatek is not listed as giving Hubbard investments as did others. This has led to speculation that Swatek may have realized such an investment was illegal and offered the prosecution his cooperation.
It will still be of great interest to see which bills coming from the House are directly or indirectly linked to SAHR.
Medicaid is another issue that will come before the legislature this session, and Hubbard has been charged in Counts 5 and 6, with using his office and voting to secure an “exclusive” contract for American Pharmacy Cooperative Inc. (APCI), which would have given the company the right to be the sole provider for pharmacy benefits management under the State’s Medicaid program.
Any Medicaid legislation will require close scrutiny for any trail that lead back to Hubbard.
Then, there is any legislation having to do with interest groups represented by former Gov. Bob Riley or his daughter Minda Riley Campbell, who are respectively in Counts 21-22.
Any legislation that is tied to Hubbard’s “pro-business” agenda will require special examination because of his so-called business development deals, as mentioned in Counts 6 through 14.
As this legislative session opens, the State’s website that displays the various pre-filed bill is broken. As of last week only 12 bills had been pre-filed in the House a small number by historical numbers. This has lead many political insiders to worry that Hubbard has more to hide than ever.
Of all the things that will necessitate constant vigilance, an interesting exercise will be to watch how many times the media follows any of his quote with, “who is under indictment on 23 felony counts of public corruption.”