By Bill Britt
Alabama Political Reporter
At the sentencing hearing for former Republican State Rep. Micky Hammon, U.S. Federal Judge Myron Thompson denied the government’s request that Hammon only receive probation for stealing over $50,000 from campaign contributions.
Alabama Political Reporter has learned that Hammon’s troubles may not have ended with the federal prosecution’s slap on the hand. Signs within the state’s justice community appear to show that while federal prosecutors failed to follow through on bigger issues facing Hammon, the state will not.
Of particular interest is HB415, a 2016 House Bill that would have benefited one of Hammon’s business interests. Actions surrounding HB415 were ignored by the Office of U.S. Attorney Lewis Franklin, but it is widely believed that state law enforcement is determined not to let Hammon or his cohorts walk away from what may be a conspiracy among lobbyists, lawmakers and business interests.
Hammon’s case was investigated by the U.S. Postal Service who seemingly grabbed for low hanging fruit, working with the U.S. attorneys to charge Hammon with only mail fraud for using his campaign contributions for personal expenses.
Presently, the Alabama Attorney General’s office is investigating several public officials for similar acts. Under state law, such violations are prosecutable as felonies.
In Hammon’s case, it would appear Judge Thompson knows there is more about Hammon’s situation than federal prosecutors are willing to pursue. While it is only speculation, it seems curious that Hammon was never indicted for his alleged involvement in legislation that, if enacted, would have made him a very wealthy man.
The federal investigation found that Hammon as House majority leader and righthand man to former House Speaker Mike Hubbard, a convicted felon, not only held a business interest in California-based Trina Health, but that he also helped facilitate legislation that would have given the company a winning advantage if passed at the time. Hammon held a four percent stake in Trina. A loophole in state ethics laws allowed Hammon to keep his ownership secret because a public official is only required to report a business in which they own five percent or more.
As reported by Mary Sell for the Decatur Daily, “A March 2016 email from a lobbyist to the founder of the Trina Health clinic indicates Hammon was involved in a 2016 bill in the Legislature to benefit the clinic, although the owner and Hammon since have denied it.”
Reportedly, Trina’s three clinics need HB415 to pass for the company to be a viable business entity. The bill would have required Blue Cross and other insurers to cover Trina Health’s artificial pancreas treatment as reported by Sell. The legislation, however, died in committee, and since, Trina has closed its three clinics in Alabama.
At the sentencing hearing, the government made it clear that it would not pursue any other charges against Hammon. However, federal prosecutors may not be the last word on Hammon. For nearly six years, Hammon served as former Speaker and convicted felon Mike Hubbard’s handpicked lieutenant. While Hubbard was convicted on 12 felony counts of public corruption, there were others in his orbit that never were indicted. What, if anything, does Hammon know that might see others reap a similar fate as Hubbard?
There is widespread belief that the Attorney General’s Special Prosecutions Divison led by Matt Hart may be seeking an interview with Hammon concerning his Trina clinic deal and what else he might know about those involved, along with others who may have illegally profited from their relationships with Hubbard or other lawmakers with which Hammon interacted.
There was speculation that Hammon may have received a lighter sentence because he was cooperating with the FBI. But at the hearing before Judge Thompson, that notion was put to rest because the prosecution would have placed some of those facts in the report for the court’s sentencing recommendations.
Federal prosecutors didn’t even ask for the minimum sentence for Hammon – something Judge Thompson questioned.
Ignoring the prosecution recommendations, the court sentenced Hammon to three months in federal prison and three years of supervised probation.
In light of the recent batch of subpoenas coming from a Montgomery Grand Jury, it is likely that other public officials will see the state act on those who have used campaign donations for personal use. APR has reason to suspect that this is not the last the public will learn about dubious actions taken by lawmakers and public officials, as well as Hammon and those who were involved in helping pass legislation favorable to Hammon’s business interest.