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Hubbard/Riley Accuse US Senator of Running “Shakedown Routine, Racket”

By Bill Britt
Alabama Political Reporter

MONTGOMERY—Emails recently released by the State at the request’s of Speaker Mike Hubbard’s criminal defense attorney J. Mark White show that former Gov. Riley and Hubbard believed Alabama’s Senior US Senator was involved in a “shakedown routine.”

In an email exchange between Riley and Hubbard in October 2011, the pair state that Republican US Senator Richard Shelby and Ray Cole have engaged in a “racket” and a “shakedown routine,” to make money off the Senator’s office.

In one exchange Riley writes to Hubbard, “Ray Cole has a racket…someone said he makes over 2 million a year and doesn’t do anything but get people in to see Shelby.”

According to his bio at Van Scoyoc Associates Inc., Cole, “specializes in Federal legislative policy issues.” It further states that he “worked for US Sen. Richard Shelby of Alabama from 1993 until 1999.  In 2001, the Bush-Cheney Transition Team picked Mr. Cole as an adviser on the US Department of Commerce.  Mr. Cole also worked as a consultant to Bush for President 2000 and for Bush-Cheney 2004, Inc.”

Cole is listed as serving on the “UA President’s Cabinet and is a member of the Advisory Board for the Blackburn Institute.”

Hubbard and Riley say that Cole has made millions through his association with Shelby. Later in the exchange Hubbard writes Riley saying, “Ray Cole has made millions off Shelby. Those two have a shakedown routine like you wouldn’t believe.”

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The word “shakedown” according to the online dictionary is, “Another word for extortion/blackmail, or the obtaining of a good or service through means of force, threats/intimidation, or abuse of power.”

Riley tells Hubbard that he would like to mimic the operation saying, “I may need to just hire a few lobbyist [sic] and become a principle [sic]–if I can do that; doesn’t seem like I could do that but who knows maybe I can.”

Hubbard replies that he has already “checked it out” with then director of the State’s ethics commission, Jim Sumner, and he will confirm that it is okay.

Hubbard to Riley:
“You can do it. I have already checked it out. Sumner can confirm. You could hire John Ross (or any one of our friends) for $1 per year and they would do it.”

Ross is currently a lobbyist for Swatek, Azbell, Howe and Ross in which he, along with Swatek and Howe, are mentioned in the indictments and evidence in Hubbard felony public corruption case.

Riley asks Hubbard how Cole funnels the money back to Shelby? Hubbard answers by saying it is done through “campaign contributions.” He specifically says that Cole uses “FedEx PAC, every PAC that FexEx (sic) has influence over, every client that wants access to Shelby… [campaign contributions].”

Hubbard lays out for Riley how they could accomplish a similar scheme by hiring a middle man to contract work with Hubbard’s Auburn Network, “I still believe that you are a ‘strategic business consultant’, not a lobbyist. You could hire a lobbyist for BR&A—a Riley Team person who will do it for virtually nothing—which will allow BR&A to hire Auburn Network, Inc. to handle your marketing needs. We could do media buying, polling, focus groups, design work, printing, anything you need.”

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Riley was a registered lobbyist at the time, but Hubbard said that he felt Riley was a “‘strategic business consultant’ not a lobbyist.”

On the face of it, the Riley and Hubbard allegations against Shelby and Cole are quite serious. But, knowing these schemes exist and how these men make money off of their public offices is just as important. This is exactly what the State says Hubbard has repeatedly done in violation of the law.

Quotes From Hubbard and Riley Emails October, 2011

Riley to Hubbard:
“Ray Cole has a racket…someone said he makes over 2 million a year and doesn’t do anything but get people in to see Shelby. I may need to just hire a few lobbyist [sic] and become a principle [sic]–if I can do that; doesn’t seem like I could do that but who knows maybe I can.”

Hubbard to Riley:
“You can do it. I have already checked it out. Sumner can confirm. You could hire John Ross (or any one of our friends) for $1 per year and they would do it.n Ray Cole has made millions off Shelby. Those two have a shakedown routine like you wouldn’t believe.”

Riley to Hubbard:
“How does it get back to Shelby?”

Hubbard to Riley:
“Campaign contributions.”

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Riley to Hubbard:
“From who though?”

Hubbard to Riley:
“FedEx PAC, every PAC that FexEx (sic) has influence over, every client that wants access to Shelby…[campaign contributions]

“If you will build polling/focus groups into your strategic consulting plans for BR&A clients, that is something that could benefit me.

“I still believe that you are a “strategic business consultant” not a lobbyist. You could hire a lobbyist for BR&A—a Riley Team person who will do it for virtually nothing—which will allow BR&A to hire Auburn Network, Inc. to handle your marketing needs. We could do media buying, polling, focus groups, design work, printing, anything you need.

“Less focus on you and your clients.”

Bill Britt
Written By

Bill Britt is editor-in-chief at the Alabama Political Reporter and host of The Voice of Alabama Politics. You can email him at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter.

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