By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter
Disgraced former Speaker of the House Mike Hubbard (R-Auburn) will return to the Judge Walker’s Courtroom on July 8 for sentencing.
The former State legislator, former Chairman of the Alabama Republican Party and former co-host of the popular Pat Dye Show, is expected to bring several character witnesses, possibly including former Auburn and Los Angeles Raiders Running Back, Bo Jackson. Hubbard, a University of Georgia alum, was brought to Auburn by then, Coach and Athletics Director Pat Dye, to promote Bo Jackson’s Heisman campaign. Hubbard never left the town of Auburn, eventually going on to found the Auburn Network there, and then representing the town in the Alabama Legislature.
Hubbard was found guilty Friday, June 10, on 12 counts of violating the strict new State ethics law he made his first priority upon being elected the first Republican Speaker of the Alabama House of Representatives since Reconstruction.
Hubbard’s positions as Speaker of the House and as the State Representative for Auburn in Lee County are both automatically vacated upon conviction. Just a few days ago Hubbard was the most powerful political figure in the State and now he is facing life behind bars in the chronically underfunded Alabama Corrections system.
Upon release, it is possible though that Mike Hubbard could return to the Statehouse as a lobbyist, a job he repeatedly asked his mentor, former Alabama Governor Bob Riley (R) for, in a string of emails between the two close friends. Those emails which Hubbard thought would never be made public, were introduced as evidence against him in the three week trial. Upon leaving the Governor’s office, Gov. Bob Riley started Bob Riley and Associates at an office building in Homewood that he shares with his son, attorney Rob Riley. The former Governor is now one of the most high powered lobbyists in the state of Alabama, though he testified that most of the work that he does for the firm is consulting and most of the actual lobbying that he does is on the federal level.
State Senator Jim McClendon (R-Springville) confirmed that convicted felons can and are working as registered lobbyists under the current ethics law. Sen. McClendon said, “We have a few who have done time.”
The Alabama Political Reporter asked: “That means that he could go to work for Bob Riley and Associates like he was repeatedly promised by Bob and Minda Riley?”
McClendon confirmed that he could.
There is already talk among some legislators of passing legislation to bar convicted felons from becoming registered lobbyists.
One legislator expressed skepticism at the idea that Mike Hubbard would still have any value lobbying the legislature after this episode and questioned if Bob Riley would even still want him. “I guess we would find out how strong that friendship is between Mike Hubbard and Bob Riley.”
Hubbard’s defense team has vowed to appeal the 12 convictions for felony ethics law violations.
Hubbard told the Associated Press’s Kim Chandler, “My family and I are working to come to terms with the disappointing verdicts, and I continue to steadfastly maintain my innocence. We have every confidence that the coming appeals process will be successful.”
Each of the 12 counts carries a penalty of up to 20 years in prison.
Ironically, prison overcrowding is one problem that was continually ignored by the House Republican supermajority during Hubbard’s tenure. That lapse may dramatically reduce the amount of time the former Speaker of the House ever actually serves in our State prisons, which are routinely at around 190 percent capacity. A middle-aged, first-time, non-violent offender, is likely to be at the head of the list of people to let out on parole, to deal with the chronic overcrowding.
Former Rep. Hubbard has been released on bail pending his sentencing. Auburn Plainsman Editor Chip Brownlee has posted video of Hubbard leaving the Lee County Courthouse, and then defiantly racing his black Chevrolet Corvette on the lawn of the Lee County Judicial facility.