By Joey Kennedy
Alabama Political Reporter
Let’s celebrate! Finally, the trial for Alabama Speaker of the House Mike Hubbard (R-Auburn) is underway. Well, technically underway.
Jury selection began this week. As APR Editor in Chief Bill Britt reports, about 100 Lee County residents were called for jury duty. About 25 of those were let go by Judge Jacob Walker III for personal reasons: their jobs and medical excuses.
Even so, Walker said the jury could be seated by Thursday. That’s the good news. The better news is that opening statements should start Tuesday, May 24. Finally, the Hubbard saga may be drawing to an end.
Bloggers incorrectly reported recently that Hubbard had agreed to a plea deal. It’s good that didn’t happen because the reported plea deal was much too favorable to Hubbard.
The Speaker has dragged this out so long, it needs to go to trial. If Hubbard can prove his innocence on 23 felony corruption charges, go for it. We’re innocent until proved guilty.
Right? Yeah, tell that to the black guy pulled over and arrested for something or another and sent straight to jail.
Meanwhile, Hubbard has remained in his Speaker seat, probably the most powerful position in Alabama politics. Well, the most powerful if you’re not under 23 felony indictments for corruption. Hubbard has used up all his political capital and likely borrowed some from others. Whatever the outcome of his trial, he’s done as a credible, respected leader.
Britt reports that more than 1,500 pieces of evidence, mostly emails, will be presented during the trial. The list of people subpoenaed to testify includes former Gov. Bob Riley.
They should call Chief Justice Roy Moore, just for fun.
Of course, Alabama’s national embarrassment is exacerbated by Moore being suspended for not liking gay people, by the reaction of Alabama officials to the Obama administration’s insistence that transgender people not be discriminated against, by Gov. Robert Bentley’s junior high-like sex scandal with aide Rebecca Mason and, of course, by Hubbard’s indictment.
Our mess even got attention from the Onion, the satiristic, hilarious website. Sen. Jeff Sessions is accused of acting out in the Senate and is apparently begging presumptive Republican nominee for president, Donald Trump, to be his soul mate … I mean running mate. Sorry.
But back to Hubbard: The Speaker is in plenty of trouble. Judge Walker appears to be serious about keeping this trial on schedule. It’ll be an ugly affair, no doubt, but Hubbard brought this on himself. He has nobody to blame but himself. The evidence doesn’t look good for him.
Still, Hubbard has been able to delay his reckoning for more than two years. He may yet have a trick or two up his sleeve.
If Hubbard is convicted, he needs to feel the force of the law; he needs to understand that he squandered the trust the voters of his district gave him, and he squandered the trust of the lawmakers who elected him Speaker.
Hubbard likely won’t, though. He’ll whine about how he was railroaded. He’ll scream justice is miscarried. He probably will never admit his mistakes. And that’s why he needs the book to hit him squarely in the forehead after it’s thrown.
Hubbard is not the most embarrassing politician in Alabama. Moore and Bentley have him clipped. But he may be the most corrupt.
We’ll see in the next few weeks.
Joey Kennedy, a Pulitzer Prize winner, writes a column for Alabama Political Reporter each Wednesday. Email: [email protected]