By Chip Brownlee
Alabama Political Reporter
MONTGOMERY — In October 2014, Mike Hubbard, House Speaker at the time, faced a 23-count indictment on felony ethics charges. For nearly two years, Hubbard steamed along as House Speaker despite the public corruption charges.
A bill proposed last week would have prevented that.
Last Tuesday, Rep. Allen Treadaway (R-Morris) introduced a bill in the House that would suspend any member from a leadership position in the Legislature if they faced indictment on felony charges.
Treadaway said Hubbard was his inspiration.
“It’s obvious why I introduced it,” said Treadaway, who introduced the bill last year, too. “I introduced it because of what the State has just gone through. It was a huge distraction. The former Speaker had 23 felony indictments.”
If the new bill passes, the Senate President Pro Tempore, Senate Majority Leader, Senate Minority Leader, Speaker of the House, Speaker Pro Tempore, House Majority Leader, House Minority Leader or chair of any House or Senate standing committee would be removed from their leadership positions if indicted on any felony.
After Hubbard was indicted in 2014, he was re-elected as Speaker during the 2015 Legislative Session without any opposition. He pulled in 99 out of 105 votes. The next year, an Alabama GOP committee asked Hubbard to step aside.
He didn’t — at the time calling the request “immature and ill-advised” — and continued serving as House Speaker until his conviction on 12 charges in June 2016.
“I felt the Speaker should have been removed last year until he cleared up his issues,” Treadaway said. “There was really no mechanism for that to happen, so I introduced this last year.”
Hubbard still maintained an iron grip on the State House despite his indictments, and he didn’t let the legislation move. Despite being proposed in early February, only days after the start of the session, the bill didn’t even make it out of committee.
This year’s bill is no different from the last, but it may have a much better chance of passing under the House’s new leadership: Speaker Mac McCutcheon and Majority Leader Nathaniel Ledbetter.
“I knew that I wouldn’t get a vote last year, but this year I’m hoping that I’ll actually get a vote on it,” Treadaway said.
The bill would automatically suspend a member of the leadership who is indicted, but they wouldn’t be removed from the Legislature. They would continue to hold their post as a lawmaker. If they are convicted, then they would automatically be removed from the Legislature under current State law.
The bill would allow the House and Senate memberships to elect new leadership if someone is indicted, which would be a necessity if others face a two-year-long trial like Hubbard’s.
Treadaway said legislators should not be held to a different standard than the general public. If a school teacher, a police officer or servicemember is indicted, they’re usually removed from their position. The leadership in the Legislature should be treated the same, Treadaway said.
“We do it to maintain the public’s trust,” Treadway said. “I have a daughter who is a School Teacher, another who is a Registered Nurse and a son in the Air Force, every one of them would be removed from a sensitive position under the indictment of a felony.”
Treadaway, who is a captain in the Birmingham Police Department, was elected to the House in 2006. He said this issue has been tugging at him for the last couple of years.
“I work in a profession that does that,” Treadaway said. “We move you from that sensitive position. We reassign you. I’ve had officers that work under my command that have been arrested for misdemeanor charges and have been removed from their job as a uniformed officer.”
Treadaway plans to meet with McCutcheon and other House leadership about the bill Tuesday, and he’s hopeful that it could pass this year.