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Featured Opinion

Rough Men, Fair Justice

By Bill Britt
Alabama Political Reporter

Public corruption runs through our State like the Cahaba River. It is ancient, long and free-flowing, but unlike the Cahaba, it is never pretty, only foul, brutal and unrelenting.

Speaker Mike Hubbard is just the latest in a rouge’s gallery of those who shined for a brief moment, only to succumb to the lure of power used for personal gain.

In an effort to free Hubbard from his legal entanglement, his cronies and lawyers have turned the State’s justice system into a sideshow with Houdini-like misdirection.

Hubbard’s original criminal attorney, J. Mark White, plotted a defense that would focus on denial, deflection and delay. He would also work to discredit the Chief of the Attorney General’s Special Prosecutions Unit, Matt Hart, and all who played a part in Hubbard’s slow march to justice.

White would employ a chaos strategy to confuse the issues of the case, and hope in the fog of war, his client might win. Over the last several weeks, the chaos has been unleashed in torrents, with Hubbard’s trial date of March 28, rapidly approaching.

Once again, Hubbard, his cronies and legal team created multiple diversions to take the spotlight off the real issue: is Hubbard guilty or innocent?

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Hubbard’s guilt or innocence has not been argued by his attorneys, and this has been lost under the constant barrage of subterfuge.

But by all appearances, Judge Jacob Walker III, will see that Hubbard has his day in court, despite the carnival of confusion.

Even as that day approaches, there are those who believe our State is so terminally corrupt that Hubbard will never be convicted on any of the 23 felony with which he is charged.

This cynicism is not born out by facts.

From 2000 to 2010, a staggering 273 individuals have been convicted on public corruption charges in the State of Alabama according to a study by governing.com.

From 1990 until 2015, there have been more than a few notable convictions including, Republican State Rep. Greg Wren, who pled guilty to an ethics violation in a scheme which involved Hubbard.

Others convicted on public corruption include:

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Democrat State Rep. Terry Spicer who pled guilty to accepting more than $3000 per month in bribes.

Democrat State Rep. Sue. Schmitz found guilty on 7 out of 8 counts of federal fraud charges.

Democrat Sen. E.B. McClain convicted on 48 counts of money laundering, mail fraud, bribery and conspiracy.

Gov. Don Siegelman found guilty of bribery, mail fraud and obstruction of justice.

Gov. Guy Hunt convicted of improperly using campaign money.

And then there is Larry Langford former Birmingham Mayor and Jefferson County commissioner, who is serving 15 years in federal prison where he is known as inmate #27349-001.

Many of these public officials have one thing in common with Hubbard: they have faced the same prosecutor.

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As a federal prosecutor, and now with the Attorney General’s office Hart is willing to fight public corruption in the face of long odds. And he has proven to be a solid winner. Defense lawyers don’t like Hart, because he wins.

Is he rough, tenacious and hardboiled? Maybe so, but a kind word and a gentle smile has never caused evil to shiver or quake. No, only fierce prosecutors dare take on political corruption. Men and women who value the law above personal gain, are the brave souls who stand ready to bring corrupt politicos to justice, wherever they are found.

Our State stands seventh in the nation for convictions in public corruption cases, which means there is too much corruption; but it also means many are brought to justice.

For now, it appears the foul, brutal and unrelenting flow of public corruption may be halted in Lee County, by rough men and fair justice.

 

Written By

Bill Britt is editor-in-chief at the Alabama Political Reporter and host of The Voice of Alabama Politics. You can email him at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter.

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The AG's office finally filed its redacted transcripts of Hubbard's prison phone calls. Numerous pages are completely redacted.

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The was a hearing without notice, a motion without opposition and redactions that could leave the public in the dark.