By Joey Kennedy
Alabama Political Reporter
As Alabama Political Reporter Editor Bill Britt pointed out in a story this week, some folks in the State House really don’t take former Speaker Mike Hubbard’s conviction seriously.
To some, it’s no big deal. As Britt writes, Rep Barry Moore (R-Enterprise) makes it “sound like (Hubbard) has been given a speeding ticket for doing 56 in a 55 zone.”
While Hubbard’s 12 convictions weren’t for murder or another violent crime, they still are very serious – Class B felonies, each carrying two-to-20 years in prison and each up to a $30,000 fine.
Any time a public official is convicted of corruption, it’s serious. Hubbard even more so because he was the speaker of the House, perhaps the most powerful elected position in the state.
Too, we’ve seen no remorse from Hubbard, who instead, still insists he is innocent of any crime.
It’s that kind of hubris that got Hubbard into trouble to begin with. It’s that kind of hubris that allowed Hubbard to believe he could very obviously break the law and get away with it. And it’s that kind of hubris that causes Hubbard to act the part of a victim.
Hubbard is no victim. The people of Alabama are the victims. When a public official violates the public trust, voters become just a little bit more cynical. Well, in Alabama, voters should be extremely cynical by now.
While Hubbard may be the biggest fish in the corruption net, Alabama has a long history of corrupt officials, both Democrats and Republicans.
Lots of elected officials have gone to prison for their corruption, and Hubbard will be another. Don’t they realize by now they very likely will be caught? Did Hubbard think he could so overtly violate the laws and get away with it?
Yeah, I’m thinking he did.
So when Lee County Circuit Judge Jacob Walker III sentences Hubbard on July 8, Hubbard should be taken into custody immediately. The disgraced former speaker should be getting his affairs in order now.
Yes, there will be an appeal, but that shouldn’t stop Hubbard from starting to serve whatever sentence Walker hands him. And with the blatant way Hubbard violated the law, an appeal is unlikely to change the verdicts, which were decided by a jury after hearing and seeing the evidence.
Walker shouldn’t go easy on Hubbard, either, and there’s no indication he will. Like Hubbard, Walker is an elected official; he’s probably as insulted and offended by Hubbard’s behavior and actions as anybody.
Mike Hubbard’s crimes are serious – among the worst a public official can commit. Using his substantial public office for substantial private gain, Hubbard deserves prison time.
And other public officials need to understand: If you can’t do the time, don’t do the crime. You will be caught.
Joey Kennedy, a Pulitzer Prize winner, writes a column every Wednesday for Alabama Political Reporter. Email: [email protected]