By Joey Kennedy
Alabama Political Reporter
Back in 2008, I covered the Republican National Convention in Minneapolis-St. Paul for the newspaper I worked for then.
Mike Hubbard was chairman of the Alabama Republican Party, not yet Speaker of the Alabama House. As part of the swag delegates receive at such events was a medal with a nice ribbon. The medal, commemorating Alabama’s participation in the convention, was encased in a nice, clear plastic box.
Hubbard, at the morning meeting shortly after the medals were handed out, cautioned delegates NOT to wear them. Put them on your walls, he said. Don’t wear them. Please, don’t wear them. You’ll look like a rube or a doofus, Hubbard warned. Well, Hubbard said something like that.
A few minutes after giving that warning, then-state Attorney General Troy King came in. Wearing his medal. With a golf shirt which advertised he was Attorney General Troy King. I could not make this up.
Hubbard rolled his eyes in my direction. A rube; a doofus, those eyes said.
Now we’re rolling our eyes at Hubbard. He’s not a rube or a doofus, but he’s contorting himself in so many impossible positions to keep his job and to stay out of prison that we can’t help thinking: Who is this man who showed so much promise, and broke that promise into so many pieces, that he can’t survive as a serious leader.
Mike Hubbard must resign. If Hubbard believes in his party, in his state, in his own personal honor, he must resign.
Republican Commissioner of Agriculture and Industries John McMillan said last week that Hubbard should quit.
McMillan, a respected member of his party, told Alabama Political Reporter that “I think it’s time for him to step down.” Hubbard should resign, said McMillan, “For all the obvious reasons … with all the problems facing our state, serious issues before the Legislature, his legal problem has become a distraction.”
Hubbard’s legal problem is actually 23 legal problems: 23 felony counts of public corruption.
Hubbard’s lawyers are doing what defense lawyers are supposed to do: They are trying to get their client off.
But the way they’re doing it isn’t helping Hubbard maintain any kind of credibility as a leader. As somebody who is above corruption and the fray. They’re not helping him show he’s innocent. They’re just using every move in the playbook to keep their client out of prison.
That’s fine. And Hubbard should encourage that because he doesn’t want to be sharing a cell in some prison somewhere with former Gov. Don Siegelman or other Alabama politicians convicted of corruption that some might say is much less serious than Hubbard’s.
There are plenty of reasons Hubbard should quit, even if he’s acquitted of the charges against him:
What is his family going through? Why would Hubbard want to drag his wife and two sons through a trial, even if he’s acquitted? If Hubbard didn’t break the law, he broke the spirit of the law. That, in itself, is disgraceful for a lawmaker who has always espoused honesty and ethics.
And speaking of ethics, Hubbard’s legal team is trying to convince the court to dismiss the charges against Hubbard because the ethics law Hubbard championed strongly and loudly is now unconstitutional. If Alabama’s ethics law is unconstitutional, what does that say about Hubbard’s ability to lead on legislation? It was Hubbard, after all, who said the ethics law he’s been charged under would make Alabama a cleaner state, one where people aren’t charged unless they’ve stepped off the reservation.
And speaking of the reservation, Hubbard’s legal team is going after the state attorney general’s office, charging political prosecution. How many times have we heard this before? Yet, the “political prosecutors” are Republicans, like Hubbard. Hubbard is being charged by those within his own party, not Democrats or independents. But we’ve seen Hubbard’s capable defense team doing anything they can to muddy the waters.
For the Legislature, Hubbard must resign. For the Republican Party, Hubbard must resign. And for Alabama – for our battered image, for our long list of corrupt politicians, for all that is right – Hubbard must resign.
Why in the world does Mike Hubbard want to continue wearing that tarnished medal around is neck?
Joey Kennedy, a Pulitzer Prize winner, writes this column every Wednesday for Alabama Political Reporter.
Email: [email protected].