By Jack Campbell
Alabama Political Reporter
As I follow the public corruption trial of House Speaker Mike Hubbard, I am reminded of the great promises made by him as he traveled the state in 2010 as the then-chair of the Alabama Republican Party. It sounded like a broken record as Hubbard spoke and wrote about cleaning up the “culture of corruption,” a phrase he borrowed from 2009 state senate candidate Paul Sanford–one of the few good guys. Hubbard promised that putting an end to 136 years of Democratic rule and the corruption in the legislative branch were his top priorities.
To carry his charade a step farther, Hubbard and Governor Bob Riley concocted a plan to convene a special legislative session in December of 2010 to pass “sweeping ethics reform.” New laws were enacted, all under the guise of improving the crooked climate in Alabama. It was nothing but window dressing.
Actions speak louder than words. And apparently, actions speak louder than laws as well. Hubbard and his CABAL of thieves went immediately to work, scheming ways to,personally enrich themselves at taxpayers’ expense. For six years, our state has suffered immeasurably because real problems have taken a back seat to finding long-term solutions for things like Medicaid, education reform, prison reform, road deterioration, mental health and the judicial system. It is appalling that while Rome burned, Nero was doing more than just fiddling.
In 2014, I helped recruit and consult with candidates for the Alabama Legislature–all Republicans– to defeat some of these minions who have drunk the Mike Hubbard Kool Aid. I worked with long time Republican activist and former state senator John Rice, who happens to reside in Hubbard’s legislative district, to elect some new people. John created the Alabama Foundation for Limited Government, traveling the state demanding real ethics reform and asking candidates to sign an anti-corruption pledge. We were ridiculed, dismissed and laughed at by Hubbard, Senate President Del Marsh and others. And in his own hometown, Rice was castigated by long-time friends and community leaders.
Some of our candidates were actually elected, but too few survived the brutal lies and smears by Bob Riley’s PAC through direct mail, coupled with Hubbard’s political war chest. Hubbard still retained a stranglehold on his power base, and little has changed. The testimony now being offered in Hubbard’s trial puts a 20/20 perspective on the width and depth of the real Mike Hubbard–a maniacal, self-absorbed and greedy public servant.
Two things John Rice and I can promise the good Republicans in Alabama: One, if Hubbard is convicted, we will not give up on changing the cast of characters in this tragedy playing out on Goat Hill. Two, if Mike Hubbard walks, we will not give up on changing the cast of characters in this tragedy playing out on Goat Hill. So, Kool Aid drinkers beware of visits to your area looking for challengers to your next campaign. We learned a lot about the lengths you will go to preserve your turf, but we know your playbook better than you do.