Wednesday, Alabama Speaker of the House Mac McCutcheon (R-Monrovia) announced that he has hired former State Representative Mark Tuggle (R-Alexander City) to serve as his Chief of Staff.
“As a member of the Alabama House, Mark set himself apart as a leader and proved a valuable source of wise counsel, so I’m pleased to continue utilizing his talents as my chief of staff,” McCutcheon said in a statement. “Alabama faces many challenges that the Legislature must resolve, and Mark will play a large role in developing and passing needed solutions to those important issues.”
Tuggle said that he appreciates the confidence that McCutcheon has placed in him and looks forward to continue working with the members of the Alabama House.
“When I decided against seeking another term in the House, I assumed my work in state government had ended, but Speaker McCutcheon convinced me to continue serving the citizens of Alabama in this new role,” Tuggle said. “As a former member, I’ll be able to advise the new House members with the perspective of someone who has once held the same responsibilities, and I will work with the returning members as someone they already know and trust.”
Some critics of the move had suggested that such a hire would violate the “revolving door” clause in the state ethics law.
To clear up these concerns, McCutcheon asked for pre-approval of the hire from the Alabama Ethics Commission. The Ethics Commission issued an opinion saying that a retiring member of the House can take the job as the speaker’s chief of staff provided that he does not engage in lobbying. The commission approved the opinion in a 4 to 0 vote.
Tuggle’s predecessor was attorney Jimmy Entrekin. In July Entrekin accepted a new position within the state legislature as general counsel for the Legislative Services Agency.
Entrekin was hired by then Speaker of the House Mike Hubbard after former Chief of Staff Josh Blades left the position to pursue other opportunities in the private sector. Blades’ testimony later was used by prosecutors to argue that Hubbard voted on legislation that benefitted a company which Hubbard had a consulting contract with. Hubbard was convicted on 12 counts of violating the Alabama ethics law in 2016. Hubbard has not served a day in prison even though he was sentenced 28 months ago. Blades is now a senior advisor for government affairs and economic development with the Birmingham law firm of Bradley, Arant, Boult & Cummings.
Tuggle was twice elected to represent House District 81. He was the chairman of the House State Government Committee.
Tuggle is a professional forester and is retired from the Alabama Power Company. He has a bachelor’s degree from Auburn University and a master’s degree from Faulkner University. He and his wife, Michelle, have one daughter, Dee.
(Original reporting by Alabama Today’s Elizabeth Patton contributed to this report)