By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter
Monday, January 11, Alabama Republican Party Chairman Terry Lathan announced that the Steering Committee had passed a resolution on January 10, calling upon Alabama Speaker of the House Mike Hubbard (R-Auburn) to suspend his leadership position.
Chairman Lathan said in a statement, “The Alabama Republican Party strongly believes the needs of our state must be the first priority of our elected officials. The GOP controlled legislature needs full time focused attention on the people’s business. The distractions of Representative Hubbard’s legal situation will make it extremely difficult for him to meet the demands of his role as Alabama Speaker of the House of Representatives.”
Chair Lathan continued, “At this time, we recognize that Representative Hubbard remains innocent on the charges brought against him. We wish only the best for him and his family. We reached out to Representative Hubbard numerous times to meet with a small group of GOP leaders to discuss our concerns, to no avail.”
Many in the Republican Party leadership have expressed concerns that Speaker Hubbard and his impending trial on 23 counts of public corruption was damaging to the Republican brand.
Lathan said, “As a servant of the people, we urge Representative Hubbard to put the larger interest of Alabama first.”
The 23 felony counts includes allegations about Hubbard’s conduct before he was Speaker while he served as Chairman of the Alabama Republican Party from 2007 to 2011. The committee wrote that the Alabama Republican Party does not want the distractions of the Hubbard trial to take away from the regular business of the legislature or its ability to achieve the policy objectives of the Republican Party in the primary and general elections of 2016 and is requesting that Mike Hubbard suspend his role as Speaker until his trial is complete, and the indictments against him are resolved.
Speaker Hubbard did not agree.
Representative Hubbard released a statement to the media in which he rejected the request by Lathan and the steering committee. As originally reported by TV station WSFA Speaker Hubbard wrote, “With several motions to dismiss yet to be ruled upon, and discussions of a continuance taking place in court just last week, Lathan’s request is both ill-advised and premature, but this effort on her part is about something else entirely. During last year’s budget crisis, Lathan was pushing for a shutdown of state government, and when the Legislature did the responsible thing and funded essential taxpayer services, she and a small group of her followers became angry. Her request is simply a symptom of lingering resentment against the leadership. The fact that Lathan’s resolution was approved in a hastily called Sunday night telephone call with less than half the Steering Committee voting in favor shows she was desperate and lacked widespread support.”
The Steering Committee has previously chastised Governor Robert Bentley (R) for damaging the Republican brand by raising taxes. Hubbard supported Bentley’s call for tax increases and was a key player in the $66 million of cigarette, nursing home bed, and pharmacy taxes that passed the legislature in the second special session. Powerful special interests are demanding more tax increases in the coming 2016 regular session.