By Bill Britt
Alabama Political Reporter
In states across our nation, elected officials indicted on serious crimes are forced to step down from their leadership rolls in order to prevent them from using their position to fight the state’s justice system.
Nothing has hindered the devilish audaciousness of the State’s Speaker of the House in his attempt to forestall justice.
Speaker Mike Hubbard, who was indicted on 23 felony counts of public corruption, was given a pep rally after his indictment. Gov. Robert Bentley, who has portrayed himself as a moral leader, demurred when Hubbard was arrested and as of late has become another pawn in Hubbard’s perverse strategy.
Although indicted on crimes involving using his office for personal gain, Hubbard has continued to hold his leadership post where he has used his powerful position to impede justice.
It appears the latest victim of Hubbard’s Machiavellian attempt to derail his criminal trial is the State’s chief lawman, Spencer Collier. Gov. Bentley’s actions and subsequent statements to al.com’s Chuck Dean has placed the Governor within the eye of the storm. But this is simply another of many disturbing machination resulting from Hubbard using his office to avoid facing justice.
As Speaker, Hubbard has been able to raise money to pay for his defense, under the guise of campaign contributions. His minions have tried to pass legislation to change the ethics laws under which he was indicted. At his direction, the House has sought passage of other laws that would have given his puppets the ability to defund the Attorney General’s Office, and mount a State-sanctioned legal defense fund. He has used his position to punish critics, co-opt the media, and in his latest stunt, having favored-lawmakers ask the Obama administration to investigate Attorney General Luther Strange, prosecutor Matt Hart and others.
Perhaps most surprisingly, he continues to call Gov. Bentley, begging the Governor to remove Acting Attorney General W. Van Davis and the prosecution team, and replace them with a special prosecutor favorable to his cause.
Why would Gov. Bentley even take such a call?
Is it appropriate for a potential witness to communicate with an indicted felon about who should prosecute the case against him, much less a witness with the power to make that decision?
The Governor should not take such a call, and would not, if Hubbard were not Speaker of the House.
Collier, who appears to be the latest casualty in Hubbard’s torrid schemes, has been publicly humiliated by Gov. Bentley in a “hit piece” written by al.com’s Chuck Dean.
Why Bentley would so publicly trash one of his most loyal supporters is unimaginable, but under the banner headline, “State’s Top Cop Placed on Leave Following Failure to Follow Governor’s Order,” Bentley told Dean that Collier had not followed his order to not supply an affidavit to the State, clarifying its investigation into allegations made by attorney and radio host Baron Coleman against the prosecution in the Hubbard case.
Collier, as a lawman, not only has a responsibility to cooperate in these situations, but a duty. A special agent under Collier’s authority investigated Colman’s claims and found no wrong doing by Hart. It would only be appropriate for Collier to report honestly and forthrightly on the investigation.
Dean erroneously reported that Collier was being forced to give his affidavit by Deputy Attorney Hart. That is a lie. No one forced Collier.
Would Bentley have so publicly and ruthlessly punished his friend Collier, if Hubbard were not still all-powerful?
Has Hubbard caused Bentley to break the law? At the very least, Gov. Bentley’s order to Collier could be considered witness tampering.
Gov. Bentley should clarify his statements on Collier, because it raises grave concerns about the Governor’s leadership, his personal character, and his relationship with Hubbard. It almost appears as if someone has purposely and maliciously convinced the Governor that the prosecution not Hubbard is the villain.
Hubbard will not step down as Speaker and there are not enough men and women with courage or integrity to force him. But the Governor should break with Hubbard once and for all. He must also explain his actions in the Collier affair before the cross hairs fall on him.
These are the results of allowing a dangerous man to remain in power.
Perhaps Gov. Bentley as well as others in Hubbard’s orbit should remember the words of Albert Einstein who said, “The world is a dangerous place to live; not because of the people who are evil, but because of the people who don’t do anything about it.”