By Bill Britt
Alabama Political Reporter
MONTGOMERY—Speaker of the House Mike Hubbard (R-Auburn) has asked the judge in his criminal trial for more time to file a motion challenging the constitutionality of the ethics laws he has championed since 2010.
In a motion before Lee Country Circuit Court Judge Jacob Walker III, Hubbard’s criminal defense team argued that they have not had enough time to research and investigate “portions of the Alabama Ethics Act, Ala. Code §36-25-1 et seq. and other issues,” which they believe are unconstitutional.
However, the State, in its answer, points out that Hubbard’s white collar criminal defense attorney J. Mark White raised the issue at a scheduling conference January 30, 2015.
“Some 272 days have now passed since Hubbard first publicly asserted he intended to move to dismiss the charges on alleged unconstitutionality of the Ethics Act, but the defense continues to drag their feet instead of timely presenting arguments to the Court for determination,” said the State.
In his vanity publication, Storming the State House, Hubbard writes glowingly about the ethics laws he is now hoping will be declared unconstitutional:
“Alabamians are, after all, not a corrupt people. They are honest, hard-working, God-fearing folks who deserved to have a government that reflected their values. Politically, strengthening the ethics law and providing the Alabama Ethics Commission with some real teeth was a perfect way for this new legislature to set the tone for the quadrennium. It would send a loud and clear message to the people of Alabama, and to the special interest groups that had run Montgomery for decades, that things would be different from here on out,” wrote Hubbard.
He also penned the following:
“I’m proud to say that legislators in both chambers and on both sides of the aisle stepped up to the plate and passed more reform in just seven days than was approved in many previous decades. Because of the laws passed in the special session and proudly signed into law by Governor Riley, Alabama ethics laws are now among the strongest in the nation. In fact, Alabama Ethics Commission Director Jim Sumner stated that we now have a ‘platinum’ package of guidelines. I firmly believe the dramatic reforms will be an important part of Governor Riley’s legacy.”
Now, that Hubbard has been charged with 23 felonies under the ethics laws he voted for, he would like them to go away. This is reminiscent of a statement he made to Riley in an email saying, “I need to be a salesman for Bob Riley & Associates. Except for those ethics laws. Who proposed those things?! What were we thinking?”
Hubbard’s defense team says the court’s order on July 10, setting the hearing date for August 17, was “unexpected and unanticipated.”
The State says this is “simply nonsense” because “In January 2015, this Court expressed its preference to hear Hubbard’s constitutional challenge at the previously held hearing on April 15, 2015.”
White also says in the motion that they need more time because, “Most of Hubbard’s defense counsel attended the Alabama State Bar 2015 Annual Meeting held July 15 through July 18 at Point Clear, Alabama.”
In what might seem ironic to some, is White taught a class on ethics at the bar event he references.
The State also shows that White said he would challenge the constitutionality of the ethics law at the pep rally held in Hubbard honor a day after he was indicted. “On October 21, 2014, the day after Hubbard’s arrest, his attorney stated at a press conference that he intended to argue for dismissal of the charges against Hubbard because portions of the Ethics Act were unconstitutional,” according to the State’s filings.
The State, in its motion, offers a compromise if the Court is inclined to allow Hubbard further time to “finalize” his motion to dismiss.
The State says it is willing to to give up 7 of the 21 days it previously requested to respond to the motion, which would re-set Hubbard’s motion deadline from July 24 to July 31, and re-set the parties’ deadline to submit a list of motions to be heard at the August 17 hearing from July 31 to August 7. The State would then respond to Hubbard’s motion to dismiss by August 14.
From the beginning, Hubbard has denied, deflected, and delayed matters surrounding his criminal indictment. Hubbard’s trial date of October 19, 2015, was agreed to six months ago in January.
The State says it is time for Hubbard to honor that agreement.