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Court Filing Show Role of Principals at Swatek, Azbell, Howe and Ross in Hubbard Case

Bill Britt



By Bill Britt
Alabama Political Reporter

MONTGOMERY—Recent court filing shows that three principals from the lobbying firm Swatek, Azbell, Howe and Ross (SAHR) were involved to varying degrees with actions that led to Speaker Mike Hubbard being charged with 23 felony counts of public corruption.

While Dax Swatek, Tim Howe or John Ross have not been charged with any crimes, court documents describe each man’s involvement in Hubbard’s alleged criminal activities.

SAHR represents top tier lobbying clients including, healthcare, money lending, probate judges, road builders and charter school advocacy groups. From money lenders like Advance America Cash Advance, Inc., to the University of West Alabama, the firm’s lobbying clients are a who’s who of special interests throughout the State (See a complete list at end of report).

The fourth partner, David Azbell, is the co-author of Hubbard’s vanity publication, Storming the State House, and receives $96,000 in taxpayer funds to assist Hubbard and various Republican House Members. 

Ross was Executive Director of the Alabama Republican Party during Hubbard’s tenure as chairman, and upon Hubbard’s direction, signed the contract with Majority Strategies, which resulted in almost $800,000 in campaign contributions being funneled through Majority Strategies and back to Hubbard’s business interests.


In Exhibit #4 of the State’s response to Hubbard’s request for a more defined statement of the indictments against him, shows Hubbard instructing Ross that ALGOP would no longer use Majority Strategies, but his own company for printing, announcing he will try to black-ball Brett Buerck for 2014 races.

The State has also charged Hubbard with using a company owned by Howe to pass over $72,000 from the ALGOP to a Hubbard-owned business. Emails show that Ross was directed to make these money “invoice” exchanges.

Exhibit #6 discloses that in emails from Hubbard to Ross, where Ross is directed on January 22, 2010, to send a check to Tim Howe for $2933.10. Then he tells Ross that he will receive an invoice from Howe for $2434.95.

An invoice to The Howe Group from Network Creative Media dated January 22, 2010, is issued for $2804.95. The description reads “$350 for radio production and $2434.95 for media placement for ALGOP” then add another $20 for overnight shipping.

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According to FCPA reports, ALGOP paid The Howe Group $72,186.27 for radio, TV spots and media during the period between 1/15/10 and 2/24/10. The aforementioned check of $2933.10 for radio, was included in that list.

These emails show that Ross and Howe assisted Hubbard in the pass through a scheme that the State says is a felony violation of State ethics laws.

Swatek was approached by Hubbard to invest in a business scheme that the State has concluded was illegal. Swatek did not participate in the venture and the State said that he, among others, are, for now, material witnesses.

Exhibit #42 of the State’s response to Hubbard’s request for a more defined statement of the indictments against him, reveals that Swatek’s company Swatek and Associates represented Hoar Construction, LLC, whose CEO, is named in the Hubbard indictments as having been solicited by Hubbard for a $150,000 investment into Hubbard’s Craftmasters Printers, Inc.

In several instances Ross served as a go-between in the alleged scheme to funnel money from ALGOP into Hubbard business interests.

Ross not only signed the contract with Majority Strategies, but he was being directed by Hubbard to pay his company directly.

Exhibit #79 details in an email how SAHR designed promotional material for Hubbard’s vanity tome, Storming the Statehouse, for a Washington DC trip arranged by BCA Chairman Billy Canary to promote the book. Canary is also listed among those from whom Hubbard solicited things of value in violation of the law.

Swatek, Azbell, Howe and Ross are said to be Hubbard’s lobbying firm of choice, as well as being his go-to team in political campaigns. For now, it appears that at least three of the principles at SAHR are potential witnesses in Hubbard’s upcoming felony criminal trial. It also appears that they will continue to represent high-profiled companies like HealthSouth Corporation, Trinity Medical and the Alabama Road Builders Association before the House of Representatives, led by Hubbard.

Companies represented by SAHR:

Advance America Cash Advance, Inc

Alabama Asphalt Pavement Association

Alabama Coalition for Public Charter Schools

Alabama Probate Judges Association

Alabama Road Builders Association

Better Basics, Inc.

Charter Communications


Community Education Centers, Inc.

Daniel Corporation

Dax R. Swatek & Associates, L.L.C.


Dish Network

Fresenius Medical Center

HealthSouth Corporation

John C.M. Ross & Company, Inc.

Learning Through Sports, LLC


National Alliance for Public Charter Schools

Nucor Corporation

Select Management Resources, Inc.

Sight Savers of America

Southern Communications Services Inc dba Southern LINC Wireless The Howe Group, LLC

Trinity Medical Center

University of West Alabama


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.



Vaccines should protect against mutated strains of coronavirus

Public health experts say it will be some time before vaccines are available to the wider public.

Eddie Burkhalter




Multiple vaccines for COVID-19 are in clinical trials, and one has already applied for emergency use authorization, but how good will those vaccines be against a mutating coronavirus? A UAB doctor says they’ll do just fine. 

Dr. Rachael Lee, UAB’s hospital epidemiologist, told reporters earlier this week that there have been small genetic mutations in COVID-19. What researchers are seeing in the virus here is slightly different than what’s seen in the virus in China, she said. 

“But luckily the way that these vaccines have been created, specifically the mRNA vaccines, is an area that is the same for all of these viruses,” Lee said, referring to the new type of vaccine known as mRNA, which uses genetic material, rather than a weakened or inactive germ, to trigger an immune response. 

The U.S. Food And Drug Administration is to review the drug company Pfizer’s vaccine on Dec. 10. Pfizer’s vaccine is an mRNA vaccine, as is a vaccine produced by the drug maker Moderna, which is expected to also soon apply for emergency use approval. 

“I think that is incredibly good news, that even though we may see some slight mutations,  we should have a vaccine that should cover all of those different mutations,” Lee said. 

Researchers at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and the University of Wisconsin-Madison found in a recent study, published in the journal Science, that COVID-19 has mutated in ways that make it spread much more easily, but the mutation may also make it more susceptible to vaccines. 


In a separate study, researchers with the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation found that while most vaccines were modeled after an earlier strain of COVID-19, they found no evidence that the vaccines wouldn’t provide the same immunity response for the new, more dominant strain. 

“This brings the world one step closer to a safe and effective vaccine to protect people and save lives,” said CSIRO chief executive Dr. Larry Marshall, according to Science Daily

While it may not be long before vaccines begin to be shipped to states, public health experts warn it will be some time before vaccines are available to the wider public. Scarce supplies at first will be allocated for those at greatest risk, including health care workers who are regularly exposed to coronavirus patients, and the elderly and ill. 

Alabama State Health Officer Dr. Scott Harris, speaking to APR last week, urged the public to continue wearing masks and practicing social distancing for many more months, as the department works to make the vaccines more widely available.

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“Just because the first shots are rolling out doesn’t mean it’s time to stop doing everything we’ve been trying to get people to do for months. It’s not going to be widely available for a little while,” Harris said.

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Tuberville looks forward to public service “probably for the rest of my life”

Tuberville’s term as senator will begin on Jan. 3 when the 117th Congress is sworn in.

Brandon Moseley



Senator-elect Tommy Tuberville during an interview with Sean Spicer on Newsmax.

U.S. Senator-elect Tommy Tuberville, R-Alabama, told Newsmax’s Sean Spicer that he looks forward to the opportunity to give back to this country.

“After winning this and after being up here a couple of weeks and seeing how much of a difference we have made just to this point in the Senate has been gratifying,” Tuberville said. “I look forward to doing public service probably for the rest of my life.”

Tuberville said that he was 18 years old when the Vietnam War was coming to a close and then got into coaching so never served in the military and looks forward to the opportunity to give back to the country.

“As I went around the state of Alabama for those two years though I learned the respect of the people and how much that they want this country to remain the United States of America that we know and grew up in to go by the Constitution and those things. As I went through the campaign I got more and more fond of that I want to give back,” Tuberville said.

“I never served, I never gave back, but God was so good to me and my wife my family,” Tuberville said. “Giving back means so much to me after I was given so much for many, many years.”

Tuberville said that education will be a priority for him, getting education back to fundamentals like reading, writing, history and math. Tuberville said that unless the country gets back to fundamentals in education, “This country is not going to make it. We have got to get back to fundamentals and we are getting farther and farther every day.”


Tuberville was the only Republican on Nov. 3 to defeat an incumbent Senate Democrat when he unseated Sen. Doug Jones.

“I want to be the voice for the people of Alabama,” Tuberville explained. “The previous Senator was a voice for his party, the Democratic party.”

Tuberville, a career college football coach, reiterated his position that we should play sports and send kids back to school despite the coronavirus global pandemic.

“I think we are doing a lot better in sports than we are doing in a lot of other areas,” Tuberville said. “I was keeping my fingers crossed back in August that we would let our young kids go play high school sports, number one, and then we get into college sports. There are so many people throwing negatives on why we should not do that. But I can tell you, you can see many more positives if we go back to school and we play sports. It’s important that we attack this virus as it has been attacking us. If it gives us an inch, we gotta take it.”

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Tuberville reiterated his opposition to shutting down restaurants, schools and businesses to fight the virus.

“We have to get back to everyday life,” Tuberville said. “You can’t keep shutting people down. Freedom is a power that we have. A power that we have earned because of our forefathers. We can’t give that up.”

Tuberville is an Arkansas native. He was the head football coach at Auburn University where he won an SEC championship, Ole Miss, Texas Tech, and Cincinnati. Prior to that, he was a national championship defensive coordinator at the University of Miami. He was also the defensive coordinator at Texas A&M.

Tuberville’s term as senator will begin on Jan. 3 when the 117th Congress is sworn in.

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UAB cancels third game

The only remaining game on UAB’s schedule is a game at Rice on Dec. 12.

Brandon Moseley




The UAB Department of Athletics on Thursday announced that it is canceling its final home game of the season. UAB was scheduled to play Southern Mississippi on Friday at Legion Field, but the game was canceled due to continuing problems with COVID-19.

UAB has said that it will “continue to work with Conference USA on the remaining regular-season schedule.”

The only remaining game on UAB’s schedule is a game at Rice on Dec. 12.

UAB currently has a record of just four wins and three losses.

A win at Rice would guarantee the Blazers a winning season, but in this COVID altered season, a four and three or four and four record is probably good enough to be bowl eligible.

Southern Miss has had a dreadful season. They are two and seven and have two remaining games, against UTEP and Florida Atlantic. Both of those games were postponed from earlier in the season.


Unless the season is extended a week to the 19th, there is no way for UAB and Southern Miss to make up the canceled game.

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Official state Christmas tree was delivered

The approximately 35-foot tree will be displayed on the front steps of the state Capitol building.

Brandon Moseley



The 2016 state Christmas tree in front of the state Capitol.

Alabama’s official Christmas Tree was delivered to the state Capitol this week.

This year’s tree was donated by Robbins Taylor Sr. It is an Eastern Red Cedar that was grown in Letohatchee, Alabama.

The approximately 35-foot tree will be displayed on the front steps of the state Capitol building.

The tree will be adorned with lights and decorations ahead of the Christmas tree lighting ceremony on Friday, Dec. 4. Gov. Ivey’s Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. at the Capitol in Montgomery.

Alabama became the first state in the nation to make Christmas an official government holiday in 1836. Christmas was declared a federal holiday in the United States on June 26, 1870.

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