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Republican leaders say Hammon guilty plea is evidence laws are working

By Chip Brownlee
Alabama Political Reporter

Republican House Majority Leader Nathaniel Ledbetter, R-Rainsville, and Alabama Republican Party Chairwoman Terry Lathan said Rep. Micky Hammon’s guilty plea on Tuesday is evidence the laws are working as they should.

“We must not tolerate elected officials who abuse their offices for personal gain, but the guilty pleas that have been entered by Oliver Robinson and Micky Hammon in recent weeks indicate that laws on our books are working, and violations of the public’s trust will be punished when they occur,” Ledbetter said Tuesday.

Hammon, R-Decatur, 60, who earlier this year stepped down as House majority leader, pleaded guilty to devising a scheme to commit mail fraud related to his campaign account, according to the United States attorney for the Middle District of Alabama.

As a result of pleading guilty to a felony, Hammon was automatically removed from his House seat. His name and headshot have already been removed from the House webpage.

Ivey has not yet announced a special election for his seat. With the general election scheduled for November 2018, it’s possible no special election will be called.

According to the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Hammon used campaign money to pay his own personal expenses. Hammon was writing checks from his campaign committee account and depositing them into his personal account. He later used the funds to pay for personal expenses, which is prohibited by campaign finance rules.

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“Regardless of political party, this is an opportunity to remind all elected officials to always put the people of our state first,” Lathan said. “We support our law enforcement members who work to keep our system at the highest level of integrity. At the same time, we thank our elected officials who continue to work tirelessly to serve our state with great honor and dignity.”

U.S. District Judge Myron Thompson will, in the coming months, sentence Hammon, who faces up to 20 years in prison in addition to fines.

Hammon stepped down from his post as House majority leader in February. The decision came just a week after the House Republican Caucus held a vote of confidence to determine whether he would continue as the leader of the Republican Caucus. Hammon survived the vote of confidence by just one vote.

A member of the House Republican Caucus asked for the vote of confidence after it became known that some legislators were interviewed by the U.S. Postal Service’s Office of the Inspector General, the Alabama Political Reporter reported in February.

Hammon was elected to the House in 2002 and as House Majority Leader in 2010 after the Republicans took control of both chambers of the Alabama Legislature. Hammon was known as a staunch supporter of former House Speaker Mike Hubbard, R-Auburn, who was also convicted on 12 felony corruption charges last year.

“The people of Alabama expect our elected officials to uphold high standards and make ethical decisions as they follow the laws of our state,” Lathan said. “It is a great disappointment that now-former State Representative Micky Hammon let his constituents down by failing to honor his oath of office in choosing to defy the law.”

Chip Brownlee is a former political reporter, online content manager and webmaster at the Alabama Political Reporter. He is now a reporter at The Trace, a non-profit newsroom covering guns in America.

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