By Bill Britt
Alabama Political Reporter
Few championed the cause of disgraced Speaker of the House, Mike Hubbard, more than Birmingham Republican State Rep. Jack Williams. From organizing a letter to the Obama Administration’s Attorney General Loretta Lynch to pushing legislation to aid Hubbard, it has been Williams who has fought so faithfully for the convicted felon. Williams has even made calls to raise money for Hubbard’s legal defense, according to those with knowledge of his actions.
Yesterday, Speaker Mac McCutcheon announced a roster of new House Committee Chairs in which Williams was replaced as chairman of the Commerce and Small Business Committee by Rep. Jim Carns. But, this may be just another spate of disappointments for Williams.
In September 2015, The Alabama Political Reporter asked if Williams had used his office for personal gain.
Williams made headlines that year as he used his position as a legislator to build support for the return of the UAB football program. Williams even sponsored legislation in support of his cause.
At the time, he did not mention his involvement with a UAB sports fan-based message board called Blazer Sports Report. The website is part of the Rivals.com network, dedicated to covering college athletics. Yahoo! acquired the Rivals network in 2007 for an estimated $100 million.
There are more potentially troubling problems, however, than his involvement with the return of UAB football. Williams may also be on the payroll of a company run by a registered lobbyist, as APR reported in late September of that same year.
Williams has also run into a few business problems in the form of a judgment for over $4 million. According to the Birmingham Business Journal, a company in which Williams was a partner faced the, “largest legal judgments in Jefferson …county lawsuits for the second quarter” of 2014. Cadence Bank won a judgment against The Jefferson Group LLC, amounting to $4,937,990. Williams was a defendant in that case.
In late 2015, Williams was reportedly active in raising funds for Hubbard’s legal defense. It was believed that he and Hubbard’s attorney Rob Riley were soliciting donations for the fund shortly after J. Mark White withdrew from the case.
Williams also sponsored a bill to make such a defense fund legal under State statutes, only to see it fail after pushback from the Attorney General’s Office and the Ethics Commission.
Furthermore, it was Williams who solicited House members’ signatures on a letter calling for a federal investigation of Attorney General Luther Strange and Deputy Attorney General Matt Hart. US Attorney Beck responded to the letter at a rare press conference, highlighting the irony of predominantly white, majority Republican lawmakers pleading with the Obama Administration to intervene in the Hubbard case.
“First issue is whether or not the misconduct of the State prosecutor has caused the illegal indictment of Speaker Hubbard,” Beck stated. “It is somewhat ironic that a largely white, largely Republican, largely conservative group of legislators, have reached out to the Obama Administration to bail out the leader of legal entanglements he finds himself in.”
In the end, Beck dismissed the letter out of hand, and it became just another of many fruitless attempts to keep Hubbard from facing justice.
A Jefferson County Grand Jury is still impaneled, and there is much speculation that several Jefferson County lawmakers may be the subject of the Grand Jury inquiry.
Williams remains a supporter of Hubbard, according to House members who know him well.