By Bill Britt
Alabama Political Reporter
Series: Emails on Hubbard’s Road to Perdition, Article 4
The emails below were released by the State of Alabama in February 2015, in response to Hubbard’s demand for a more defined statement of facts concerning his indictments.
Other articles on emails:
MONTGOMERY—Court documents and emails reveal that Speaker Mike Hubbard received $17,500 a month from two companies, to influence the Alabama Department of Education, the Governor’s Office and a federal agency.
Hubbard was paid $7,500 a month by online education provider Edgenuity, and $10,000 a month by Robert Abrams who owns several businesses in Auburn including, Capitol Cups and iS02, which received a seventy-eight million dollar loan from the Retirement Systems of Alabama (RSA).
According to court documents, Hubbard worked with lobbyist, Ferrel Patrick, on various fronts in an effort to secure State contracts for Edgenuity and others.
In an email from Hubbard to Patrick, he expressed that he was, “very excited about the opportunity to work with some of your [Patrick’s] clients and appreciate your assistance.” Court filings show, “Patrick assisted Hubbard in obtaining lucrative ‘consulting’ contracts with Patrick’s clients.”
Another email shows Hubbard was working with Patrick on other State executives. In the email Hubbard said, “On another note, I met with [State Superintendent] Tommy Bice and talked to him about iTeach. He is reviewing the material and will get back with me on setting up a meeting. I will let you know.”
Court documents say, “Edgenuity’s internal emails show that Hubbard served as the company’s ‘contact for House Speakers in all 50 states.’”
A 2015 report in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution found that students using Edgenuity’s virtual classroom courses, “Googled their way to diplomas…looking up the answers to test questions on the internet while enrolled in a flawed online education pilot program.”
In 2015, the Marshall County Board of Education was awarded an Alabama State Department of Education At-Risk grant in the amount of $83,000, to pay for the Edgenuity program, despite the fact that the Alabama Board of Education offers an online program at no cost through ACCESS Virtual Learning.
A Lee County Grand Jury indicted Hubbard for using his office for personal gain through his $10,000 per month contract with Bobby Abrams’ business.
According to court records, in September 2012, Hubbard solicited Robert Abrams to “hire Auburn Network, Inc., to help his plastic cup company with sales,” even though Hubbard candidly admitted that he did not “know anything about the cup business….”
For this lucrative contract, Hubbard reportedly lobbied the Alabama Department of Commerce and the Office of the Alabama Governor to build a “training center” for workers that could be hired by Abrams’ company. Hubbard wrote he “personally spoke with Secretary Canfield and Governor Bentley on Abrams behalf on that issue.”
Hubbard also used his legislative staff to assist Abrams’ business interests.
Documents show Abrams had filed for a patent in July 2013, and requested assistance from the Speaker to expedite the process. “Hubbard directed his Chief of Staff, Josh Blades, to assist Abrams with speeding up the patent process….Hubbard also made calls on Abrams’ behalf to the patent office.” Hubbard expressed to Abrams that he “hope[ed] [his] calls and pushing help speed it up a bit.” Abrams was issued the patent in August 2013.
Repeatedly, court documents and emails show Hubbard receiving thousands of dollars in monthly contracts to engage government, official and agencies, to advance the business interests of those who were paying him.
The $17,500 Hubbard was paid by Edgenuity and Abrams are two more examples.