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Featured Opinion

The real crooks are wearing suits

By Josh Moon
Alabama Political Reporter

The Hispanic immigrants were the problem.

They were mooching off of the taxpayers, helping themselves to riches that they had no right pocketing.

At least, that was the viewpoint of GOP House majority leader Micky Hammon.

Ol’ Micky was so dadgum angry about the immigrants, he sponsored the most hateful, mean-spirited anti-immigration bill in the country.

So vile that it attempted to force public school workers to investigate the citizenship of children and report any illegal kids or parents. So vile that it prevented Hispanic families from receiving running water, electricity and shelter.

But Micky Hammon didn’t care, because non-white people were mooching off of white people, and that called for punishment.

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And, well, here’s the plot twist you could probably see coming.

Turns out, those immigrants were propping up essentially every aspect of Alabama’s economy – from farming and construction to health care and municipal services.

And good ol’ Micky was the one stealing.

Oh, they don’t call it stealing, of course. Because he wore a suit and served in the Legislature and he wasn’t caught leaving a bank with a sack of money.

So, Hammon last week pleaded guilty to wire fraud, which makes it sound like he was running a Nigerian email scam. But what he was actually doing, according to the Decatur Daily, was taking kickbacks from a health care company for his attempts to force through legislation that did nothing but help that company.

His primary piece of legislation didn’t pass, which means he was an inept crook. But had it, it very well could have driven up insurance premiums for all Alabamians.

Because when it comes to the real crooks in this state, it’s time we stop looking at Alabama’s poor and minorities and start focusing a bit more on the real criminals.

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The (mostly white) guys in suits.

The Micky Hammons. The Mike Hubbards. The Balch and Binghams. The Drummond Coals. The Oliver Robinsons. The Greg Wrens. The Robert Bentleys. The Luther Stranges.

They make the welfare cheats and Medicaid frauds seem piddling. They make the common crooks – the ones who steal with guns or by deception – seem almost sweet.

Because more money is stolen and more damage done to this state on a daily basis by guys in suits and using pens than any other way.

There is no limit to their greed, or to the brazen acts of theft that they will commit to feed that greed.

Take Mike Hubbard, the former Speaker of Alabama’s House. He was hauling in $400,000 per year. But it wasn’t enough. And instead of gratitude for such a posh lifestyle – instead of serving in the Legislature as a way to spread that good fortune to the less fortunate – Hubbard cared only about stuffing more money into his fat pockets.

He did essentially the same thing that Hammon did – propose legislation that aided a company that was paying him. And he did it over and over.

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Drummond Coal and Balch and Bingham did the same thing in North Birmingham, where decades of pollution have wreaked havoc on poor, black neighborhoods. Instead of righting that wrong and caring for the people those CEOs and lawyers filthy rich, they went with a scam.

Officials from Drummond and Balch went shopping around an illegal deal. Shopped it to four people before one took a bite. The one who did, Oliver Robinson, has pleaded guilty to multiple felonies.

But it’s worth remembering that the deal Robinson eventually took was the talk of the State House for weeks. Everyone knew about it.

No one said a word until the feds were on the case.

It was just business as usual.

Hell, the Alabama Attorney General at the time, Luther Strange, was going to bat for the polluters.

You’ve got thousands of people sickened, contaminated topsoil, unsafe drinking water, and the state’s top consumer advocate backs the guys who are screwing over the consumers.

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It’s infuriating.

But it’s our fault. We have sat back and watched this game play out almost since the beginning of this state.

The minority and poor citizens are painted as the villains – the ones stealing by way of welfare, the ones really to blame for all of Alabama’s problems. Because Alabamians are always eager to believe that it’s probably the black guy’s fault.

And all the while, the guys in suits are stealing us blind.

Written By

Josh Moon is an investigative reporter and featured columnist at the Alabama Political Reporter with years of political reporting experience in Alabama. You can email him at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter.



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