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The Never-ending Story: Corruption in Alabama

By Joey Kennedy
Alabama Political Reporter

Well, thank goodness it’s done. Former Speaker of the House Mike Hubbard, convicted on 12 of the 23 indictments against him, is no longer in the Alabama Legislature.

The jury in the 13-day trial did its job, as did the state prosecutors. Bill Baxley, former attorney general and lieutenant governor, probably did as well as he could for Hubbard. It was apparent throughout the trial that Baxley didn’t have much to work with, and his star witness, Hubbard himself, couldn’t explain away more than half the charges against him.

He’s scheduled to be sentenced on July 8, but as Hubbard and his legal team have demonstrated time and again, they’re pretty good at getting delays. And though the former speaker could be sentenced to up to 20 years on each count, that’s unlikely. But he will get prison time. In an Alabama state prison.

So it’s over. Except it’s not, by a long shot.

The Hubbard mess will drag on for awhile through sentencing and appeals. But Bill Britt, editor in chief of Alabama Political Reporter, pointed out Tuesday that more indictments are likely.

The embarrassing specter of corruption smothering Alabama politics, and especially the members of the Alabama GOP, will likely continue for months and years.

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Besides a number of individuals involved with Hubbard on the legal-trouble hot seat, there’s still state and federal investigations into Gov. Robert Bentley’s acts concerning former chief aide Rebekah Caldwell Mason, and I’m not talking about Bentley’s boob groping. Much more serious, if less visually disgusting, matters are being looked into.

Bentley’s reaction to Hubbard’s conviction was about what one would expect. Despite the governor’s pious attitude, he’s caught on audio betraying his marriage. Here’s part of Bentley’s statement in the wake of Hubbard’s conviction: “Alabama is strong because our people are strong. As leaders we were placed here to serve our people and that is exactly what we are going to continue to do. God has assigned us to this task, and we will work hard to honor Him. . . .”

No, Gov. Bentley. You don’t “honor Him.” You work hard to honor yourself, and then throw God around for effect.

And then there’s Chief Justice of the state Supreme Court Roy Moore, who is even more pious than Bentley. Moore, currently suspended (with pay, sadly) from duty because he defied the federal courts’ decisions, including one from the U.S. Supreme Court, affirming marriage equality. Moore’s homophobia and fundamentalist zealotry are well known and may result in his removal as Chief Justice for the second time in his career. But the Chief Justice loves being the victim of imagined persecution.

For too long, corruption has been part of the landscape in Alabama politics, by both Republicans and Democrats.

But the number of Republican officeholders and others either convicted or under investigation for corruption today is likely unprecedented.

Ironic, too, considering when Republicans stormed the State House in 2010, their No. 1 priority was to end public corruption.

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Now, the man who led that charge is awaiting sentencing and prison because he is corrupt, as was rumored for years and confirmed last week by a Lee County jury. Mike Hubbard has not only disgraced himself; he has disappointed those Alabamians who put their trust in him.

That disappointment will likely be repeated because of selfish, arrogant politicians who put themselves before those they are supposed to serve.

Joey Kennedy, a Pulitzer Prize winner, writes a column every Wednesday for Alabama Political Reporter. Email: [email protected].

Joey Kennedy, a Pulitzer Prize winner, writes a column each week for the Alabama Political Reporter. You can email him at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter.

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