By Bill Britt
Alabama Political Reporter
MONTGOMERY—At the urging of then Speaker of the House, Mike Hubbard, in 2014 the Steering Committee of the Alabama Republican Party added a loyalty oath to the qualifying packets given to each candidate running for office under the GOP banner. The pledge was added according to a steering committee members after the qualifying rules had been approved. Hubbard, who was then under indictment on 23 felony counts of public corruption, wanted to ensure that House Republicans would reelect him as Speaker, and the fealty clause was a means to that end.
The oath reads in part, “[I] pledge to the Republican voters… I will vote for the Republican Caucus choices for leadership position for the legislative body to which I seek to be elected.”
Several House Republicans believe this oath violates the spirit of the law, which says the Speaker is to be elected by the entire House by a vote on the floor. They also contend the pledge stands in the way of electing honest leadership to replace Hubbard, who was found guilty of 12 felony counts of public corruption.
According to several Republicans who hope to restore integrity to the House of Representatives, the pledge gives an advantage to those who would continue Hubbard’s reign of greed and cronyism. Individuals hoping to make positive change in the lower chamber say, only about 20 members are aligned to wipe every vestige of Hubbard-style politics from the House, while approximately the same number are fighting for things to remain the same. In the middle: the vast majority of the 105 members, who make up the body, are only interested in supporting the winner, whoever that might be.
This apathy for change by so many members, is believed to favor those who seek to retain the status quo of the Hubbard era.
Many feel that ALGOP Chair Terry Lathan should rescind the pledge, leaving House members free to vote their conscience. Ironically, some fear resending the pledge is compared to those in the national party who wish to overthrow the GOP’s presumptive presidential candidate Donald Trump, by releasing delegates from their pledge to support him.
Steering committee members speaking on background say, the pledge will stay in place, unless lawmakers call county chairs and committee members requesting a change.
Reportedly, the Riley Machine, which includes BCA Chairman, Billy Canary, are working day and night to seat a Speaker who will continue to do their bidding. Meanwhile, federal agents have launched a probe, calling on several players who have knowledge of the inner working of the Riley Machine. Whether the investigation bares fruit is questionable, but the Rileys and Canary are seen by the State press as damaged goods, whose motives were clearly exposed during Hubbard’s 13 day trial.
Some steering committee members have expressed a willingness to free lawmakers from the pledge instituted at Hubbard’s request, but others say until they hear from members directly, the pledge will stay in place.