By Joey Kennedy
Alabama Political Journal
It’s time for this to end. It’s time for Alabama Speaker of the House Mike Hubbard to show that he’s not guilty of 23 ethics violations at trial. It’s time to end the delays, to end the limbo in state government, to end — one way or another — the mess that was created when Hubbard was indicted on 23 felony corruption charges.
Hubbard’s trial is set for March 28. It’s still set for March 28 after Lee County Judge Jacob Walker turned down Hubbard’s request for a postponement after a hearing in Opelika on Tuesday.
That is a good decision.
The trial still could be delayed, Walker said, for other reasons, like an appeal of any of Walker’s pretrial decisions, as reported by Alabama Political Reporter.
Expect Hubbard to try. It’s clear — from all the pretrial maneuvering by Hubbard and his attorneys — that he doesn’t want to go to trial. Hubbard doesn’t want to clear his name; he wants to stall as long as possible to keep his position. It’s a selfish act, not in the best interests of the state or the people he serves.
But, then, when have we seen a politician make a decision that wasn’t self-serving?
Beuller? Beuller? Beuller?
Some thought a delay was a certainty after Hubbard’s attorney Mark White withdrew from the case a few weeks ago.
Hubbard’s new “lead” counsel, Lance Bell, has represented Hubbard in this case since at least September 2013, more than 860 days ago, as prosecutors pointed out. It’s not as if Bell is new to the game. And if he hasn’t kept up, well, that’s not the People’s fault.
It’s time for a trial. March 28 isn’t even close enough. But at least it’s a set date, one we can mark on our calendars; one where we can at least say: “OK, this is the beginning of the end.”
For Hubbard, it doesn’t matter whether he gets off on a technicality or is declared not guilty by a judge or jury. His credibility as a leader is destroyed. All he is hoping for is to dodge prison. If he didn’t break the letter of the law, he broke the spirit. And the spirit matters.
No doubt, Hubbard will continue to try to delay his trial. He’ll continue to try to delay the inevitable.
And he’ll desperately try to hang on to his Speaker’s post, despite the damage it does to his state. Hubbard’s selfishness, demonstrated time and again, won’t allow him any other option.
But what if it did? What if Hubbard — as he should have done already – resigned? Not only from the Speaker’s post, but also from the Legislature. That’s what he should have already done, instead of dragging Alabama through the embarrassment of his alleged corruption, of the latest embarrassment of having even those in his party asking him to quit. He should have resigned so he could focus all his energies on showing the public that he is an innocent man. That’s what a humble, innocent man would have done.
When one’s main strategy for defense is to delay a trial, that says a lot about what the defense is likely to offer.
These are sad times in Alabama. We’re about to start another crucial (aren’t they all “crucial”?) legislative session, without solid leadership in what is probably the most powerful position in the state.
We have real problems to solve, and neither the governor, nor the leader of the Senate, and certainly not the Speaker of the House, have a real clue about what to do. They are treading in deep water.
They want to, once again, punish teachers. They want to, once again, punish the working poor. They want to, once again, stand up, every day, to Barack Obama.
But what do they want to do for Alabama?
Bueller? Bueller? Bueller?
Still, the biggest boil on Alabama’s butt is Mike Hubbard. It needs to be lanced.
Joey Kennedy, a Pulitzer Prize winner, writes a column every Wednesday for Alabama Political Reporter. Email: [email protected]