By Bill Britt
Alabama Political Reporter
The chronically delayed trial of The State of Alabama V. Michael G. Hubbard is set to begin Tuesday. Nearly two years after his indictments on 23 felony counts of public corruption, a jury of his peers will hear opening statements from the State, and the defense. There was a defense motion pending before trial Judge Jacob Walker, III, but late on Friday, Hubbard’s defenses withdrew the motion.
Over the last three and a half years, I have personally written hundreds of articles outlining Hubbard’s scandalous career as a businessman and a politician. To a journalist, Hubbard is almost a once-in-a-lifetime crook. Controlling, yet careless; merciless, and yet pleading; he is a study in contrast. His “radio” voice and practiced posture was cultivated to allow him to cast himself as a suave media personality, and a savvy businessman, but most importantly, a strong political figure. But, none of those things are actually real. Without the constant assistance from more powerful, more successful, and more competent men, Hubbard would have been little more than a red clay Georgian with an inferiority chip on his shoulder.
His mentor, former Gov. Bob Riley, warned him about his greediness, but he didn’t listen because, his failed business interests, a need to keep up appearances, and his arrogance drove him to think he could do it all. Here again, his persona betrayed the real man, the scared boy, who was always in need of help from bigger men. Hubbard is smart, and has talent, but wreaks of inauthenticity, and sorely lacks basic human decency. He is both a phony, and a user, whose very appearance is pure trailer park elegance. A despicable little man, with with a big ego, and a small moral compass.
Yet, with all of his failings, and now, having to face trial, the Riley’s are sticking with their guy. Just last week, Rob Riley was making phone calls pleading with wealthy republican donors to contribute to Hubbard’s legal defense fund.
Hubbard’s attorney Bill Baxley is believed to have demanded his money up front, after Hubbard stiffed his original criminal lawyer, J. Mark White for over a million dollars.
So, what’s ol’ Rob up to?
Many thought the Riley clan would have been wise to establish a “prison trust fund” for their boy. And given the many high profile businessman who will be called to give testimony, surely a few million could have been put aside for Hubbard to just take the rap and save them further embarrassment. Almost no one thought Papa Riley would ever take the stand. Even now, there are those who believe Riley might suddenly feel a need for an extended motorcycle trip to Alaska.
There is still time for Hubbard to plea, but is he so delusional that even the Riley’s can’t reach him? Hubbard, like others, never believed he would be indicted, and he certainly never thought he would stand trial in Lee County.
A plea agreement can be reached at anytime, even during the trial, so that is still a possibility, but it is looking doubtful. The State has all ready presented the defense with over 1500 exhibits it plans to introduce, and a list of over 135 witness have been listed on Alacourt.
With a who’s who of lawmakers, lobbyists, and business leaders, the trial will be a made-for-reality-TV, on how politics in our State actually work. It will also serve as a master’s class on public corruption.
If the trial goes forward as expected, the State and the Nation will be treated to an adult portion of political underbelly, Alabama style. With Hubbard on trial and Gov. Robert Bentley under investigation, more fallout to surely come. We should be honest and place a greeting on the highways leading into our State that reads, “Welcome to Alabama: The Heart of Corruption. Have a nice pay to play day!”