By Bill Britt
Alabama Political Reporter
MONTGOMERY—In three, separate filings dated June 25, 2015, the State’s prosecution in the Mike Hubbard criminal case answered a laundry list of accusations made by Hubbard’s defense team.
Hubbard has filed motions to dismiss because he says the Grand Jury was not properly impaneled, and that there has been prosecutorial misconduct.
Hubbard has also sought to have past and present employees of the Attorney General’s Office called as witnesses in an evidentiary hearing which the State is seeking to quash.
Of the many notable revelations in the State’s filings, it shows that Hubbard obtained approximately $2,346,292.88 in personal gain for himself, or his businesses in violation of the State Ethic’s codes.
The records show that as Chairman of the Alabama Republican Party he obtain approximately $1,012,444.00 in personal gain for himself, Craftmaster, or the Auburn Network (Counts 1-4).
The State further showed the charges arise out of Hubbard’s soliciting and receiving approximately $733,848.88 in total “consulting contract” payments from American Pharmacy Cooperative, Inc. (“APCI”) (Counts 5-6), the Southeast Alabama Gas District (“SEAGD”) (Counts 7-9), Edgenuity/E2020 (Count 10), and Bobby Abrams’ businesses (Counts 11-14).
Finally, the State also showed that Hubbard was charged with soliciting and receiving $600,000.00 from principals for preferred stock shares in Craftmaster (Counts 15-19) and soliciting and receiving financial favors from lobbyists and principals to help Auburn Network obtain more clients (Counts 20-23).
The court filings also document obscene email communications between, then Deputy Assistant Attorney General Henry T. “Sonny” Reagan, and AG, Special Agent Howard “Gene” Sisson, in which they fondly compare the defense in the Rep. Barry Moore trial to a Dr. Dre song, “N**ga with a Gun,” which glorifies killing police, as well as spewing obscenities, like MF and GD. Scisson even states that his church sang the same song at a recent worship service but change the title to “Deacon with a gun.”
“These emails show that Sisson, in concert with Reagan, while both were still employees of the Attorney General’s Office, was cheerleading Moore’s defense and applauding Mark White’s and Bill Baxley’s efforts to get the charges against Moore dismissed,” according to the filings.
Last year, Hubbard was indicted by 18 citizens of Lee County who found probable cause to have him arrested and tried on 23 felony counts of public corruption. Hubbard, through his legal team, has filed a long list of motions in an attempt to stall, or have the case dismissed altogether.
In the latest filing, the State has asked trial Judge Jacob Walker III, to say “enough is enough” to Hubbard’s “ever-evolving and ever-baseless prosecutorial misconduct allegations…conspiracies.”
They asked the court to put an end to “the frivolous attacks,” made by Hubbard and his criminal defense team.
In its answer, the State maintains that Hubbard is trying to “rehash” legal arguments that were found baseless in the Rep. Barry Moore trial, as well as claiming conspiracies that clear evidence has refuted time and time again.
In Hubbard’s Supplement to Motion to Dismiss Indictment: Special Grand Jury Not Properly Impaneled, filed publicly on June 10, 2015, the State maintains that the filing is merely a “re-hash of the arguments rejected in State of Alabama v. Felix Barry Moore,” over which Judge Walker presided.
The State concludes, “Hubbard has failed to offer any reason for this Court to reconsider its prior decision that the prosecutors have authority to act in this matter.”
Hubbard’s legal team, like Moore’s, contends that W. Van Davis was not properly appointed and not qualified to serve as “Acting Attorney General.”
The State shows that Judge Walker’s court has already ruled that the Attorney General had the authority to direct Davis to lead the Lee Count Special Grand Jury.
Hubbard has asked the court to reverse itself based on former Governor Bob Riley’s appointment of Richard Allen as Acting Attorney General following former Attorney General Bill Pryor’s investiture as a Judge on the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals.
The State says this argument is “makes no sense,” because one situation is not like the other.
Hubbard’s attorney, J. Mark White, here again is covering ground already rejected in the Moore case, where Moore’s attorney, Bill Baxley, unsuccessfully argued that only the Governor could appoint an “Acting Attorney General.”
The State points to precedent for the Attorney General to direct a special prosecutor to handle a prosecution upon the Attorney General’s recusal and for that prosecutor to use the moniker “Acting Attorney General.”
In November 2006, former Attorney General Troy King recused himself from the Post-secondary Education investigation and appointed the District Attorney Richard Minor, to assume oversight of the State’s interest in that matter pursuant to §36-15-15.
In Exhibit B the State shows “Acting Attorney General” is moniker was used by Minor to investigate, prosecute, and convict Roy Johnson.
The State points to the historical precedent for the term “Acting Attorney General” being used when an Attorney General has rescued.
Hubbard’s legal team has also argued before the court, that because Davis maintains a private law practice, and represents clients in other cases, he is disqualified in repressing the State in the Hubbard matter.
“Assuming, for the sake of argument, that Davis has run afoul of a technical provision preventing him from representing private clients while he serves as Acting Attorney General, that fact (if true) would not affect his authority here,” according to the State.
They also conclude that Hubbard has no standing in the Walker Court to challenge Davis’ representation of clients in other cases pending before other courts.
Hubbard’s attorneys also asked the court to dismiss the charges against Hubbard claiming prosecutor Matt Hart lacked authority to swear in witnesses before the Grand Jury, because his “Job Title” was not listed with the State Personnel Board.
While Hart’s job title is, “Public Corruption Special Prosecutor,” this does not change the fact that he was appointed by Attorney General Strange to a non-merit position as a prosecutor in the Attorney General’s Office, which means he is a Deputy Attorney General. See 36-15-5.1, Ala Code, according to the State’s filings.
White, Hubbard’s criminal defense attorney, has fostered the idea of prosecutorial misconduct, based primarily on statements made by former Deputy Assistant Attorney General Reagan. Reagan was allowed to leave the AG’s Office rather than be fired for aiding the defense in the Hubbard case, as well as leaking Grand Jury information to Hubbard, former Gov. Bob Riley and his son, Rob.
The State says that these accusation are baseless and “consist more of rhetoric than reason.” And that he is increasingly desperate… [and] openly refuses to accept any evidence that his allegations or theories are legally or factually deficient.”
Since December 2014, Hubbard has filed motions, quoting “Hitler and Lenin; insinuated that the Grand Jury investigation into his activities was run like the English Star Chamber; and accused the prosecutors, and the Attorney General himself, of destroying and/or manufacturing evidence.”
The State maintains that these actions are tactics, designed to divert attention away from the merits of the criminal case adjacent him, while setting up a false narrative whereby Hubbard, spins, “new equally desperate conspiracies.”
According to the State, Hubbard has claimed the letter appointing Van Davis, Acting Attorney General was backdated, “even though he has received sworn testimony and metadata refuting it.” Yet, he has failed to provided evidence to support his allegation and “failed to disclose the purported source of the allegation.”
According to the State’s filling, “Hubbard also refuses to accept the metadata from the PDF showing that the letter was not backdated, even though Mark White indicated previously that the defense would do so at the April 30, 2015 hearing.”
The State says, “Hubbard’s never-ending parade of frivolous misconduct allegations is not without cost…and the unnecessary and burdensome drain on the State’s resources is, in part, the rationale for the US Supreme Court rulings that have found in favor of the “presumption that prosecutors act properly in carrying out their official duties.”
They further state, “The costs to the State are particularly regrettable here because they were incurred as a result of Hubbard’s specious and unsupported allegations – not actual evidence.”
According to law, a evidence of both misconduct and prejudice must be shown before defendant can file for prosecutorial misconduct discovery. Something Judge Walker, has said that Hubbard’s team has yet to produce.
Even before his indictment, Hubbard was crying about a political witch hunt. He has repeatedly accused General Strange and others of a political prosecution saying the timing and the indictments were politically motivated.
In numerous filings, the State has shown that the statute of limitations would have expired just days after the indictment was presented for the four charges relating to Hubbard essentially embezzling approximately one million dollars in Alabama Republican Party (“ALGOP”),” according to the records.
“Second, the State showed that the prosecutors did not indict Hubbard; rather, the Grand Jury – comprised of eighteen Lee County citizens – voted to indict Hubbard on twenty-three Ethics Law felonies.” This decision was reached following, “a lengthy year-long investigation, taking testimony from over 150 witnesses, and subpoenaing hundreds of thousands of documents.”
Hubbard has accused the State of playing politics when it released the “More Definite Statement,” five days before the start of the 2015 Regular Legislative Session. However, records show that Hubbard’s attorneys agreed to that date, and that the filing was at their request.
White agreed that the State’s Response to Hubbard’s Motion for More Definite Statement would be due on Friday, February 27, 2015.
White confirms to the State, “This is acceptable” regarding the proposed date.
Hubbard has also charged that Lee County Grand Jury exceed its jurisdiction by subpoenaing Sonny Reagan to testify.
Hubbard has claimed that this was due to an office dispute, but the real reason was Reagan’s subpoena was revealed in emails which show Reagan leaking Grand Jury information.
(1) A December 13, 2012 email from Hubbard to former Governor Riley showing that Reagan provided confidential information to Hubbard’s lawyer, Rob Riley, regarding the Montgomery County Grand Jury subpoena to the Alabama Republican Party (“ALGOP”)
(2) A January 18, 2013 email from Hubbard to former Governor Riley where Hubbard discusses that Grand Jury’s evaluation of the allegations they were investigating, which he learned from Reagan via Hubbard’s then-Chief of Staff, Josh Blades.
(3) Reagan’s undisclosed representation in the Lee County Grand Jury matter by attorney Rob Riley – the same attorney Rob Riley who represents Hubbard in this matter.
The latest court filings once again show that Rob Riley has been Hubbard’s attorney since the beginning, a fact that no other news media has chosen to report.
The State concludes that Reagan’s allegations against Hart are thoroughly discredited not only by these actions, but also by the fact they he was instructed to draft his “personnel complaint memo on July 22, 2014 on the advice of attorney Bill Baxley, resulting in Baxley filing his first discovery requests in the Moore prosecution just two days later seeking the prosecutor’s personnel files, including that very same fabricated personnel complaint memo.”
The prosecution’s filing also maintains that Sisson has no credibility because he, in concert with Reagan, worked to undermine the Lee County investigation. The State points back to the fact that Sisson was working in cooperation with Reagan to undermine the Lee County Grand Jury citing the email is which Reagan writes, to Sisson saying, “Rep. Moore (Baxley) gave 44 reasons why the indictment should be dismissed. If you Google ‘44 reasons’ you come up with the below lyrics. You think maybe Bill Baxley, Mark White, et al, is sending a message to the prosecution?”
This exhibit shows Sisson forwarding of the Moore pleading for dismissal to a former employee that no longer worked within the Attorney General’s Office. The email begins, “I’m sure you are following the ‘investigation’ going on in Lee county [sic]. …” The document reads, “Clearly then, Sisson, like Reagan, was disloyal to his client and employer, the State of Alabama – the entity prosecuting Moore.”
The State concludes its filings by saying, “Only this Court has the ability to end the frivolous attacks. Accordingly, the State respectfully requests that this Court enter an order denying Hubbard’s motions to dismiss, as well as all supplements thereto, and denying all of his discovery requests related to prosecutorial misconduct, including but not limited to quashing all of the subpoenas to current and former Attorney General Office employees.”
Tuberville calls for term limits, balanced budget and lobbying reform
Tuberville has also made a major media buy across the state to trumpet this message.
Senate candidate Tommy Tuberville’s campaign began emphasizing key structural reforms that the Republican nominee hopes to advance if elected to the U.S. Senate including congressional term limits, withholding lawmakers’ paychecks unless a balanced budget is passed and a ban on former officials becoming lobbyists.
“Only an outsider like me can help President Trump drain the Swamp, and any of the proposals outlined in this ad will begin the process of pulling the plug,” Tuberville said in a statement. “Doug Jones has had his chance, and he failed our state, so now it’s time to elect a senator who will work to fundamentally change the way that Washington operates.”
Tuberville has also made a major media buy across the state to trumpet this message.
“You know Washington politicians could learn a lot from the folks in small town Alabama, but Doug Jones … he’s too liberal to teach them,” Tuberville added.
Polls consistently show that term limits are popular with people across both political parties, but the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that imposing term limits would be adding a qualification to be a member of Congress and that can only be done by constitutional amendment.
It is an unspoken truth that when Americans send someone to Congress they never come back. They either keep getting re-elected like Alabama’s own Sen. Richard Shelby, who is in his sixth term in the Senate after four terms in the U.S. House of Representatives. On the other hand, they may become lobbyists getting paid to influence their colleagues on behalf of corporations, foreign governments or some well funded non-government organization.
Tuberville said he would ban that practice.
A balanced budget amendment almost passed in the 1980s and again in the 1990s.
Since that failure, Congress has increasingly passed bigger and bigger budget deficits. The U.S. government borrowed more money during the eight years of President George W. Bush’s presidency than the government had borrowed in the first 224 years of the country combined.
President Barack Obama followed and the TARP program propped up the post-Great Recession economy. Rather than cutting the deficit, President Donald Trump invested billions in the military and a tax cut without cutting domestic spending. The 2020 coronavirus crisis has further grown the budget.
The government has borrowed trillions to prop up the economy and provide stimulus while investing billions into medical research and treating the virus victims. Congress is currently debating a fifth stimulus package that would add more to the deficit.
Both a balanced budget amendment and a term limits amendment would have to be ratified by the states if passed by Congress. Tuberville is challenging incumbent Sen. Doug Jones, D-Alabama.
House passes General Fund Budget
By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter
The Alabama House of Representatives passed the state General Fund Budget on Tuesday.
The General Fund Budget for the 2019 fiscal year is Senate Bill 178. It is sponsored by Sen. Trip Pittman, R-Montrose. State Rep. Steve Clouse, R-Ozark, carried the budget on the House floor. Clouse chairs the House Ways and Means General Fund Committee.
Clouse said, “Last year we monetized the BP settlement money and held over $97 million to this year.”
Clouse said that the state is still trying to come up with a solution to the federal lawsuit over the state prisons. The Governor’s Office has made some progress after she took over from Gov. Robert Bentley. The supplemental we just passed added $30 million to prisons.
The budget adds $50 million to the Department of Corrections.
Clouse said that the budget increased the money for prisons by $55,680,000 and includes $4.8 million to buy the privately-owned prison facility in Perry County.
Clouse said that the budget raises funding for the judicial system and raises the appropriation for the Forensic Sciences to $11.7 million.
The House passed a committee substitute so the Senate is either going to have to concur with the changes made by the House or a conference committee will have to be appointed. Clouse told reporters that he hoped that it did not have to go to conference.
Clouse said that the budget had added $860,000 to hire more Juvenile Probation Officers. After talking to officials with the court system that was cut in half in the amendment. The amendment also includes some wording the arbiters in the court lawsuit think we need.
The state General Fund Budget, SB178, passed 98-1.
Both budgets have now passed the Alabama House of Representatives.
The 2019 fiscal year begins on Oct. 1, 2018.
In addition to the SGF, the House also passed a supplemental appropriation for the current 2018 budget year. SB175 is also sponsored by Pittman and was carried by Clouse on the floor of the House.
SB175 includes $30 million in additional 2018 money for the Department of Corrections. The Departmental Emergency Fund, the Examiners of Public Accounts, the Insurance Department and Forensic Sciences received additional money.
Clouse said, “We knew dealing with the federal lawsuit was going to be expensive. We are adding $80 million to the Department of Corrections.”
State Representative Johnny Mack Morrow, R-Red Bay, said that state Department of Forensics was cut from $14 million to $9 million. “Why are we adding money for DA and courts if we don’t have money for forensics to provide evidence? if there is any agency in law enforcement or the court system that should be funded it is Forensics.”
The supplemental 2018 appropriation passed 80 to 1.
The House also passed SB203. It was sponsored by Pittman and was carried in the House by State Rep. Ken Johnson, R-Moulton. It raises securities and registration fees for agents and investment advisors. It increases the filing fees for certain management investment companies. Johnson said that those fees had not been adjusted since 2009.
The House also passed SB176, which is an annual appropriation for the Coalition Against Domestic Violence. The bill requires that the agency have an operations plan, audited financial statement, and quarterly and end of year reports. SB176 is sponsored by Pittman and was carried on the House floor by State Rep. Elaine Beech, D-Chatham.
The House passed Senate Bill 185 which gives state employees a cost of living increase in the 2019 budget beginning on October 1. It was sponsored by Sen. Clyde Chambliss, R-Prattville and was being carried on the House floor by state Rep. Dimitri Polizos, R-Montgomery.
Polizos said that this was the first raise for non-education state employees in nine years. It is a 3 percent raise.
SB185 passed 101-0.
Senate Bill 215 gives retired state employees a one time bonus check. SB215 is sponsored by Senator Gerald Dial, R-Lineville, and was carried on the House floor by state Rep. Kerry Rich, R-Guntersville.
Rich said that retired employees will get a bonus $1 for every month that they worked for the state. For employees who retired with 25 years of service that will be a $300 one time bonus. A 20-year retiree would get $240 and a 35-year employee would get $420.
SB215 passed the House 87-0.
The House passed Senate Bill 231, which is the appropriation bill increase amount to the Emergency Forest Fire and Insect and Disease Fund. SB231 is sponsored by Sen. Steve Livingston, R-Scottsboro, and was carried on the House floor by state Rep. Kyle South, R-Fayette.
State Rep. Elaine Beech, D-Chathom, said, “Thank you for bringing this bill my district is full of trees and you never know when a forest fire will hit.
SB231 passed 87-2.
The state of Alabama is unique among the states in that most of the money is earmarked for specific purposes allowing the Legislature little year-to-year flexibility in moving funds around.
The SGF includes appropriations for the Alabama Medicaid Agency, the courts, the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency, the Alabama Department of Corrections, mental health, and most state agencies that are no education related. The Alabama Department of Transportation gets their funding mostly from state fuel taxes.
The Legislature also gives ALEA a portion of the gas taxes. K-12 education, the two year college system, and all the universities get their state support from the education trust fund (ETF) budget. There are also billions of dollars in revenue that are earmarked for a variety of purposes that does not show up in the SGF or ETF budgets.
Examples of that include the Public Service Commission, which collects utility taxes from the industries that it regulates. The PSC is supported entirely by its own revenue streams and contributes $13 million to the SGF. The Secretary of State’s Office is entirely funded by its corporate filing and other fees and gets no SGF appropriation.
Clouse warned reporters that part of the reason this budget had so much money was due to the BP oil spill settlement that provided money for the 2018 budget and $97 million for the 2019 budget. Clouse said they elected to make a $13 million repayment to the Alabama Trust fund that was not due until 2020 but that is all that was held over for 2020.
Clouse predicted that the Legislature will have to make some hard decisions about revenue in next year’s session.
Day Care bill delayed for second time on Senate floor, may be back Thursday
By Samuel Mattison
Alabama Political Reporter
The day care bill, which would license certain day care centers in Alabama, was once again delayed on the state Senate floor after one lawmaker requested more information.
Its brief appearance Tuesday ended with state Sen. Gerald Dial, R-Lineville, saying a compromise had not yet been worked out with the bill’s detractors.
Alabama’s Senate has been hesitant to act on the legislation because of complaints of state Sen. Shay Shelnutt, R-Trussville, who has been an opponent of the bill since its introduction last year. The bill’s delay on Tuesday marks the second time its been taken off the Senate’s agenda.
The bill has had a rocky time in this year’s session, but the bill’s sponsor state Rep. Pebblin Warren, D-Tuskegee, said she is still confident about its passage out of the Legislature.
Warren, D-Tuskegee, filed the bill this session with the support of influential lawmakers including Gov. Kay Ivey, who told reporters last year that she though all day cares should be licensed.
Mainly sparked by the death of 5-year-old boy in the care of a unlicensed day care worker, the bill had great momentum coming into this year’ session.
Despite the growing support from lawmakers, Religious groups had concerns that the bill would increase state-sponsored reach into religious day cares in churches and non-profit groups.
Spearheading the dissenters was Alabama Citizens Action Program, a conservative religious-based PAC.
Warren, proponents, and ALCAP announced a compromise to the bill while it was still in the Alabama House.
Announced by ALCAP originally, the new bill was a weaker version in that it did not require that all day cares in the state be regulated. Instead, religious-based day cares would only need to be registered if they received federal funds. At a Senate committee meeting in February, Warren said a similar requirement was about to come from federal law in Congress.
The bill moved through the House in a overwhelming vote in favor of the proposal and passed unanimously out of a Senate committee a few weeks ago.
Warren, speaking to reporters after its passage from the House, said she was unsure if the bill would encounter resistance in the upper chamber.
It was the Senate that killed the daycare bill last year amid a cramped last day where senators took the bill off the floor. The bill may face similar complications this year, as lawmakers seem to be preparing to adjourn within a few weeks.
Fantasy sports bill fails on Senate floor
By Samuel Mattison
Alabama Political Reporter
Would-be Fantasy Sports players in Alabama will have to wait to legally play in the state following a Senate vote on Tuesday.
The Alabama Senate decisively killed a bill to exempt fantasy sports from the state’s prohibition on gambling.
Not even entertaining a debate on the Senate floor, the proposal was killed during a vote for the Budget Isolation Resolution, which is usually a formality vote preluding a debate.
Fantasy sports are contests where participants select players from real teams to compete on fantasy teams using the real-world players’ stats.
Since 2016, the practice has been illegal in Alabama following a legal decision by the Attorney General’s Office that categorized it as gambling.
The bill’s sponsor, state Sen. Paul Sanford, R-Huntsville, predicted the bill’s failure during a committee meeting two weeks ago, where the bill passed unanimously.
- Sen. Paul Sanford speaks to reporters after a Senate Committee meeting on Feb. 28, 2018. (Samuel Mattison/APR)
Speaking to reporter’s after the committee meeting, Sanford said the decision to file the bill was mainly a philosophical belief that the practice shouldn’t be illegal.
Sanford, a fantasy sports player before its ban, said that fantasy sports are a way to bring people closer together and not a means to win money. The Huntsville senator is not seeking re-election.
The bill’s failure in the Senate follows its trajectory last year too. A similar version of the bill, also sponsored by Sanford, failed in the Senate during the final days of the 2017 Legislative Session.
Since Sanford is retiring, it is unclear if the bill will even come back next session, or if it will even have a Senate sponsor.