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Top ten Alabama political stories of the decade: Part 2

Brandon Moseley



Part 2 of 2

Alabama’s love affair with Donald Trump.

In June 2015, New York billionaire and reality TV star Donald J. Trump, announced that he was running for the Republican nomination for President of the United States. Trump was just one of seventeen major candidates in the Republican field. Alabama has not supported a Democratic nominee for President since Georgia Governor Jimmy Carter in 1976 and everyone in politics understood that there was no way that Hillary Clinton would ever carry the state in 2016, no matter who got the Republican nomination; but Trump’s popularity in Alabama was entirely unexpected. There were many more experienced candidates in the field, there were southern candidates in the field, there were more conservative candidates. Ted Cruz, Jeb Bush, and Marco Rubio all had hopes of carrying Alabama and the deep south states.

Trump is a former Democrat, was on his third marriage, is from New York, and was late to the game; but U.S. Senator Jeff Sessions, R-Alabama, loaned Trump key members of his staff to write the border security heavy talking points that Trump would run on. The people of Alabama embraced Trump’s candidacy immediately, even though most political leaders in the state were hesitant. 50,000+ Trump supporters filled a stadium in Mobile just weeks after he announced his candidacy. The rally was covered by every news outlet and was live during primetime on all the news networks. Trump followed that with mass rallies at the BJCC in Birmingham and a stadium in Madison. Trump’s rallies were unlike anything any other candidates had even imagined. Trump easily won the Alabama Republican Primary on Super Tuesday and followed that by winning more votes than any other presidential candidate in the history of the state. Trump was impeached by the House of Representatives, still faces a trial in the Senate and may or may not win re-election in November; but appears to be certain to carry the state of Alabama in another landslide victory.

The curious career of Artur Davis.

In 2010, Artur Davis was a U.S. Congressman representing Alabama’s Seventh Congressional District. In 2008 he had defied Joe Reed and the powerful Alabama Democratic Caucus by being state campaign chairman for U.S. Senator Barack H. Obama (D). Davis’s dogged efforts on behalf of his college friend were successful and Obama carried Alabama and the southern states thanks to strong support from Black voters and went on to win the Presidency. The Seventh Congressional District has a majority of Black and minority voters whose support of Democratic candidates is over 90 percent. Davis was popular with the business community and a district gerrymandered so that only a Democrat can win; and he had close ties to President Obama. Davis, however wanted to be Governor and badly misread the political landscape in 2010. Most Alabamians opposed Obamacare, so Congressman Davis voted against it, the only Black Democrat in Congress to do so. Davis had simply assumed he would be the Democratic nominee for governor and was positioning himself to appeal to moderate White voters in the general election. The vote against the Affordable Care Act and his failure to embrace gambling expansion hurt him with Black voters and the much more liberal Commissioner of Agriculture and Industries Ron Sparks (D) won the Democratic nomination for Governor in 2010, but lost to Bentley. Davis then became a Republican and embraced the candidacy of Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney (R) in 2012. Davis has the distinction of being the only person to give speeches on the floor of both the 2008 Democratic national convention and the 2012 Republican national convention. Obama defeated Romney so there was no cabinet appointment for Davis. He then spent a year exploring running for Congress in Virginia before returning to Alabama. By 2015 it was becoming obvious that Whites were leaving Montgomery for Pike Road, Prattville, Millbrook, Coosada, and Wetumpka. Davis ran for Mayor of Montgomery promising to be the Black Mayor that could unite Black and White Montgomery. White voters decided they would rather keep Todd Strange for another term. Davis headed Legal Services of Alabama but resigned after a bitter disagreement over the direction of the agency. Davis wanted to run for Montgomery County Commissioner as a Democrat; but faced opposition from his own party over his previous Romney support. In 2019 he ran again for Mayor; but voters preferred Probate Judge Steven Reed instead.

To gamble or not to gamble and who gets the money.

The 1901 Constitution bans all games of chance in Alabama. Over the years county amendments to that created special exceptions for dog tracks, then bingo at the dog tracks, a horse track, and charity bingo. The Poarch Creek Band of Indians citing these exceptions opened electronic bingo facilities in Wetumpka and Shorter on their “tribal” lands under the federal Indian Gaming Act. In 2010 Gov. Bob Riley (R) created an anti-illegal gambling task force to close bingo facilities that were operating electronic bingo illegally. Riley asserted that bingo was a game played on a paper card not electronically and the Alabama Supreme Court agreed. Under threat of being forced out of business the handful of families that controlled the bingo business in Alabama pushed the Democratic controlled Alabama legislature to pass a constitutional amendment. The State Senate voted narrowly to approve the controversial constitutional amendment. The matter went to the Alabama House of Representatives, then under Democrat control. That was interrupted when the Obama Department of Justice announced that the FBI had been investigating the gambling bosses and the Alabama Senate and that Milton McGregor and Ronnie Gilley had allegedly bribed as many as six Alabama State Senators to pass the bill. The shocking turn of events meant that the gambling legislation wasn’t even going to be voted on in the House by Representatives for fear that they too would be indicted by the feds. The move had huge political ramifications because the gambling interests were suddenly spending their money on legal defenses, rather than on the re-elections of their allies in the Legislature. It also appeared to confirm Hubbard’s message that the Democratic controlled legislature was corrupt. The Poarch Creeks donated to Hubbard and Marsh’s effort to take over the Legislature. Even though Republican Senators were among those indicted, the scandal helped the GOP win their 2010 landslide political victory. Gilley and several co-conspirators pled guilty to bribery and corruption charges. McGregor and the Senators held firm and were ultimately found not guilty in two highly publicized trials. Polling shows that most people in Alabama support a paper lottery and every year the legislature considered and ultimately rejected a lottery proposal. The issue every year is electronic bingo. The vested bingo interests want electronic bingo and oppose any lottery amendment that does not include a provision allowing the dog tracks to have electronic bingo. The Poarch Creeks generally support efforts to have a paper only lottery and oppose provisions for video lottery terminals or other such gaming at the dog tracks. The issue of a compact allowing the Indians to expand their gaming in exchange for them paying taxes to the state has also come up; but that is opposed by the dog tracks who oppose giving the Poarch Creeks a gambling monopoly. In 2016 Bentley ordered a special session to consider a lottery; but that failed when each House passed a different lottery proposal. The subject is expected to be a controversial topic again in the 2020 session.

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The long neglected prisons.

Politicians like to send people to prison; but nobody wants to properly fund prisons. The overcrowding, understaffing, deteriorating physical condition of the prisons was known by the Legislature each year of the decade and each year the legislature elected to do something next year. The Alabama Department of Corrections is funded in the State General Fund (SGF). The 2008 Great Recession and constitutional earmarking of money meant that most State General Fund budgets in the decade were smaller than the 2008 SGF budget. Worse, medical costs skyrocketed so troughout the decade, Alabama Medicaid took more and more revenue that was available in the SGF. In state budget after state budget the prisons were shortchanged. Legislators were loathe to pass any new taxes to fund prisons; because it would be politically unpopular and the ongoing impasse over gambling meant that there was no new income for the SGF. Prison guards went years without raises. The Bentley and Ivey administrations both put off maintenance in hopes that the Legislature would approve new prisons. New prisons that have never been built. The Justice Department has declared that the Alabama state prisons are the most dangerous in the nation and the federal courts are threatening a takeover of the prison system as a new decade begins.

Alabama children don’t read well and can’t do math.


Test score after test score confirms that Alabama’s public schools are among the worst in the entire country. This is nothing new; but has reached all time lows this decade. Recently the state’s school children scored dead last in math. Under AEA’s powerful influence, the state resisted school choice more than almost any other state. Most parents have little options about where their children can go to school. With Del Marsh taking the lead, the Republicans did create some new options for students in failing schools, passing legislation allowing scholarship granting organizations to give scholarships to children in failing schools to opt instead for private schools. A handful of charter schools have been allowed; but there is still considerable resistance to charters by vested special interests in Montgomery and at the local level. An effort by Marsh to weaken the state tenure law was rejected in the legislature. Common Core was supposed to raise performance; but the results in Alabama thus far have been nothing short of a disaster. The Ivey administration is spending much more on pre-K so that children will start school better prepared; but none of that has yet born results on the state’s test scores. The state is expanding apprenticeship programs and efforts to improve workforce development both in high schools and in the two year college system. The improving economy has made it harder for schools to recruit new teachers and the Legislature has had to raise teacher pay after pay had stagnated over much of the decade. Voters will decide on March 3 whether they want to jettison the elected state school board and go to an appointed board.


Brandon Moseley is a senior reporter with eight and a half years at Alabama Political Reporter. You can email him at [email protected] or follow him on Facebook. Brandon is a native of Moody, Alabama, a graduate of Auburn University, and a seventh generation Alabamian.



Attorney general opposes motion to reconsider Hubbard’s prison sentence

“Hubbard is not being punished for his reversed convictions. He is being punished for the crimes of which he remains convicted,” Marshall wrote to the court. 

Eddie Burkhalter



Former Alabama House Speaker Mike Hubbard reported for his prison sentence at the Lee County Detention Facility on Sept. 11.

Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall in a court filing Tuesday opposed a request by former House Speaker Mike Hubbard’s attorney for the court to reconsider his 4-year sentence on six felony ethics violations.

Marshall in the filing said that after four years of appeals, Hubbard remains convicted of those felonies.

“This Court’s carefully calibrated sentence of a four-year split, among other penalties, properly accounted for the severity of Hubbard’s crimes, the position of trust he abused, and the need for serious penalties to deter other wrongdoers,” Marshall wrote to the court. “In addition, Hubbard’s refusal to admit any guilt or express any remorse makes him wholly unfit to receive any leniency now that he is finally in jail.”

“In sum, nothing material has changed since Hubbard earned his four-year sentence four years ago. It’s simply time for him to serve it. Accordingly, his motion should be denied,’ Marshall continued.

Hubbard had originally been convicted by a Lee County jury on 12 ethics violations, and the Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals upheld 11 of those convictions, but the Alabama Supreme Court later reversed five of those convictions and upheld six.

He began serving his four-year sentence for the six convictions of using his office for personal gain on Sept. 11.

Hubbard’s attorney argued in a separate court filing that the court should reconsider his sentence because five of the 12 convictions were reversed, but Marshall told the court Tuesday that the sentence Hubbard received was just.

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“Hubbard is not being punished for his reversed convictions. He is being punished for the crimes of which he remains convicted,” Marshall wrote to the court.

Hubbard’s attorney in his request to reconsider sentencing also argued that Hubbard has already suffered from a “divestment of his business interests.”

Hubbard’s convictions related to consulting contracts that enriched him while he served as speaker.


The state’s attorney general at the time of his conviction determined that Hubbard had bilked Alabama out of more than $2 million.

“Suffice it to say, it is a bad advocacy strategy for Hubbard to mourn his loss of an income stream worth millions, which he financed on the backs of hard-working Alabamians who expected an honest elected official. That Hubbard has lost some of these ill-gotten gains in no way suggests that Hubbard has paid back his debt to society,” Marshall wrote to the court.

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Alabama Power reopens business office lobbies

Brandon Moseley



The Alabama Power Company has reopened its business office lobbies, which have been closed since March due to fears of the coronavirus.

“We are ready to be back, welcoming the customers because we’ve missed them,” said Sandra Tucker who works in the Jasper Alabama Power office and Appliance Center. “Just to see their face, to interact with them and to be able to help them, we’re excited about that.”

Tucker is one of several customer service representatives who help Alabama Power customers in and around the Jasper area. Tucker says that she and her colleagues have missed seeing the faces of their customer “family” since the company adjusted walk-in operations at its business offices in March.

“We are a friendly family that just wants to help our customers,” Tucker said. “It’s just an opportunity to serve them that we haven’t been able to do since this pandemic started. We’re just excited to see them.”

Supporting customers affected by COVID-19 with tailored, customized solutions to meet their needs remains a priority as the Alabama Power Company continues to navigate the pandemic. As part of that solution, the company this week announced it has safely and responsibly resumed walk-in operations at its business offices and Appliance Centers.

Alabama Power says the reopened offices are in compliance with safety best practices. Walk-in customers are asked to comply with signs in the offices to ensure Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines are followed to protect the safety and health of both fellow customers and Alabama Power employees. The offices are also limiting customer capacity at the offices to further hinder virus spread.

“Customers who visit their local business office will see new safety updates and precautions installed to protect the well-being of them and our employees,” said Alabama Power’s senior vice president of Customer Operations Jonathan Porter. “We have been thoughtful and detailed in our plans to provide the safest and best experience for our customers.”

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The Alabama Power Company said in a statement that its commitment to customers and the communities we call home has not wavered.

The company says that it has mobilized and enacted programs and policies to support residential customers, businesses and communities.

To help customers facing economic or medical hardships due to COVID-19, Alabama Power is offering new payment plans. This new offering allows customers to spread out energy bill balances over several months. To enroll, customers can visit or use the automated system at 1-800-245-2244 to check eligibility and set up a plan in a few simple steps.


Since the state of emergency was declared in March, Alabama Power has not disconnected or charged late fees to any customer affected by COVID-19. The company says that it will return to standard business operations for customers on September 28.

Standard business operations include the following services for residential and business customers: Responsibly reopening walk-in services at Alabama Power business offices and Appliance Centers; Continuing to work individually with customers on payment assistance resources; and Using multiple channels to notify customers behind on payments options to maintain service.

Alabama Power also offers several programs designed to help low-income, elderly or disabled customers with energy bills.

Project SHARE is a program in partnership with the Salvation Army. Project SHARE helps pay energy bills of low-income Alabamians who are age 60 or older and/or disabled. Customers who want to request energy assistance can apply at their local Salvation Army office or by calling 205-328-2420. Alabama Power customers who want to help others can donate by checking the Project SHARE box on their Alabama Power bill.

The Alabama Business Charitable Trust Fund works with local community action agencies to help cover the cost of heating and cooling for low-income families and those struggling with temporary financial problems. Customers who are interested can contact the community action agency in their county. For more information, visit this website.

Additionally, energy bill discounts are available for customers receiving Supplemental Security Income (SSI) or Medicaid for Low Income Families (MLIF). The discount includes $14.50 toward the customer charge. Eligible customers can sign up at any Alabama Power business office or by phone at 1-800-245-2244.

In addition to these programs, the Alabama Power Foundation continues to support organizations in the state through a $1 million pledge for COVID-19 relief efforts.

The company says that its customer service team stands ready to work individually with customers who need help. Customers are encouraged to reach out for support online at or call 1-800-245-2244.

Alabama Power warns that it has continued to see an uptick in scammers taking advantage of customers during the pandemic. The company said that it will never contact customers demanding bank information or an immediate payment on accounts. Customers who are unsure if a call is a scam are encouraged to hang up immediately and contact Customer Service at 1-800-245-2244.

Alabama Power Company, Mississippi Power, and Georgia Power are the three divisions of the Southern Company. Southern Company has 27,943 employees and a market cap of $56.1 billion.

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Alabama declines to release COVID-19 data associated with child care centers

APR has asked for that data and whether ADPH was aware of the number of cases associated with child care centers statewide.

Eddie Burkhalter




It was unclear Tuesday the number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 there have been among staff, children and relatives associated with child care facilities in Alabama, because the Alabama Department of Public Health declined to release that data.

“All cases of COVID-19 are required to be reported to the Alabama Department of Public Health under notifiable disease laws. ADPH is aware of cases in entities such as child care but does not report separately from other data,” said Dr. Karen Landers, assistant state health officer, in a message to APR on Tuesday.

APR has asked for that data and whether ADPH was aware of the number of cases associated with child care centers statewide.

Landers noted that ADPH does provide the percentage of cases among age ranges, however. There had been approximately 2,628 confirmed COVID-19 cases among Alabama children 4-years-old and younger as of Monday, according to ADPH’s dashboard, but the department doesn’t specify which of those cases are associated with child care centers, and it was unclear how many cases there have been among relatives or workers connected to child care centers.

While children 10-years-old and older can efficiently transmit COVID-19 to others, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in a recent report note that “limited data are available on SARS-CoV-2 transmission from young children, particularly in child care settings.”

The Sept, 18 CDC report looked at three COVID-19 outbreaks in child care facilities in Salt Lake County, Utah, during April 1 through July 10, and found that the 12 children who contracted the disease spread it to at least 12 others outside the centers, and one parent was hospitalized with coronavirus.

In one facility, researchers confirmed five cases among workers and two among children. One of those children, aged 8 months, transmitted COVID-19 to both parents, the report notes. Many of the children had mild symptoms or none at all, researchers found.

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“COVID-19 is less severe in children than it is in adults, but children can still play a role in transmission,” the report reads. “The infected children exposed at these three facilities had mild to no symptoms. Two of three asymptomatic children likely transmitted SARS-CoV-2 to their parents and possibly to their teachers.”

While Alabama’s Department of Public Health isn’t releasing data on cases associated with child care centers, many other states are, including Texas, South Carolina, North Carolina, California, Minnesota and Massachusetts.

There have been 332 confirmed cases, two deaths and 14 separate outbreaks associated with child care centers in North Carolina, according to the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services.


Health officials in California’s Sonoma County traced 30 cases of coronavirus to one child at a child-care center in the county, where 16 students, 11 relatives and three workers tested positive, according to The Los Angeles Times. In addition to that outbreak, there have been 62 other cases at 13 child-care facilities in the county, including 27 family members, 10 workers and 25 students, with 381 cases of children younger than 17 still under investigation, the newspaper reported on Sept. 21.

Reopening child care centers can be done safely, according to an Aug. 28 report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which that found that in Rhode Island, which reopened child care centers on June 1, there were just 52 confirmed and probable cases among staff, children and relatives across 29 centers between June 1 and July 31.

The report noted that Rhode Island at first limited centers to 12 or fewer students, required staff and students to not move between groups in centers and “universal use of masks for adults, daily symptom screening of adults and children, and enhanced cleaning and disinfection according to CDC guidelines.”

Alabama State Health Officer Dr. Scott Harris on March 19 issued an order closing child care centers through April 5, with exceptions for facilities that provided services to first responders and other workers deemed essential. Harris on March 27 issued a supplemental order allowing centers that cared for 11 or fewer children to reopen.

The Alabama Department of Public Health on Monday published a press release touting the number of open child care centers across Alabama. According to the department, 76 percent of all child care facilities in Alabama are open.

“Alabama is well on our way to reopening the necessary number of child care facilities to enable parents to return to work and resume a more normal schedule,” said Alabama DHR commissioner Nancy Buckner, in a statement. “This is the sixth survey we have conducted and each one has shown tremendous growth in the numbers of open facilities. We have worked hard to encourage child care providers to open by providing support in the form of grants and supplies.”

Asked whether the department is aware of the number of COVID-19 cases among children, staff or relatives associated with child care centers, a DHR spokesperson responded in a message to APR on Monday that “We don’t track that.”

While child care plays a critical role for working parents across the country, the pandemic and subsequent shutdowns have put a strain on the businesses, according to a July 13 study by the National Association for the Education of Young Children, which surveyed more than 5,000 child care facilities in every state.

Among the child care centers surveyed, two out of five said they would have to close without more public assistance, while half of the minority-owned centers said they have to close without more aid, according to the report. A quarter of child care workers said they’d applied for or received unemployment benefits, and 73 percent of centers said they have or will begin laying off workers and/or make pay cuts.

An Aug. 26 study by the Washington D.C.-based nonprofit Bipartisan Policy Center found that 32 percent of parents polled said their child care centers were closed, 14 percent of them permanently, and 22 percent of the parents said they could not return to work in person without childcare.

Even when child care is available to parents, many are worried about sending their children back while COVID-19 continues to spread. Of those asked, 77 percent of parents said they were concerned that sending their kids back would increase the risk of exposing their family to COVID-19.

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Bill Britt

Opinion | Hubbard did the crime; he should do the time

Hubbard may not be a violent offender but his actions are a danger to society and a threat to the public.

Bill Britt



Mike Hubbard looks toward his family after receiving sentencing on Friday, July 8, 2016, in Opelika, Ala. (Todd Van Emst/Opelika-Auburn News/Pool)

Attorneys for convicted felon, former Speaker of the House Mike Hubbard, believe he has suffered enough, and his sentence should be reduced because six of the charges against him were overturned on appeal.

The remaining six counts against Hubbard call for a prison term of four years, 16 years probation, and substantial fines independent of the charges the upper courts set aside. Therefore, there exist no reasonable grounds under which trial Judge Jacob Walker III should lessen Hubbard’s sentence.

This action on Hubbard’s behalf is simply another attempt to subvert justice.

A Lee County jury found Hubbard guilty of twelve counts of public corruption, most notably using his office for personal gain and using state resources and personnel to enrich himself—and those counts still stand.

The Court of Criminal Appeals rejected Count 5, and the Alabama Supreme Court struck down another five, which primarily dealt with the charges surrounding “principals.”

The upper-court’s finding appears more political than judicial, but most people in the state are used to jurists who bend the law for the rich and politically connected.

Of the remaining charges against Hubbard, five carry a ten-year spit sentence of two years in prison and eight years probation, and one count has a six-year split sentence with 18 months in jail with the remainder served on probation.

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Why would Judge Walker reverse his judgment since the appeals process left in place the charges that carry the very sentence he imposed?

Does Judge Walker think he erred in his sentencing? Does he now, in retrospect, believe he was unfair as Hubbard’s lawyers contend?

Hubbard’s appeal is merely more subterfuge and trickery disguised as a legal argument.


Astonishingly, in their latest filing, lawyers, David McKnight and Joel Dillard, assert that Hubbard is not “a danger to society, nor a threat to the public” as a reason to let him out of prison.

Hubbard may not be a violent offender but his actions are a danger to society and a threat to the public.

Prison is not only for brutal inmates it is also for those who break a certain class of laws. Because a felon wears a thousand dollar suit doesn’t mean they deserve less jail time.

Hubbard’s crimes are some of the most heinous perpetrated against civil society.

Public corruption undermines the rule of law and the principles of good government and is an offense more potent than property theft, drug use, or other nonviolent crimes because it rips apart the very fabric of society and its trust in the foundations of the republic.

A corrupt politician’s actions subvert the very meaning of representative government.

Hubbard is not now a danger to society, or a threat to the public because he is behind bars. But make no mistake he is a menace to public good. Even before his indictment, Hubbard used every scheme at his disposal to thwart justice, entice lying and manipulate public trust. And now he wants one more shot at corrupting the system.

There are only two occasions when every individual should expect equal treatment: when they stand before a court of law and when they stand before their maker. Yes, a wealthy defendant like Hubbard can afford better legal representation, but it doesn’t mean he can purchase special justice.

Hubbard has been given preferential treatment by lawmakers, the media, and even some on the courts. All along the way, Hubbard was handled with kid gloves and given unwarranted privilege.

McKnight and Dillard argue with a straight face that letting Hubbard out of prison early will, “Preserve scarce prison bed-space for habitual offenders and others from whom society needs protection… [and] more likely result in the defendant’s rehabilitation than incarceration.”

The word rehabilitation is used several times in Hubbard’s most recent court filings as if somehow allowing him to avoid prison time will serve to rehabilitate him. To this day, Hubbard doesn’t believe he’s committed a crime, so how is rehabilitation possible?

His attorneys lastly make the most laughable argument possible by indicating Hubbard has suffered enough.

“[The] Court should consider the punishment that Hubbard has already suffered. The convictions in this case alone have resulted in a wide range of punishments which include his removal from office, the loss of his right to vote, the divestment of his business interests, and his current incarceration.”

Suffered enough?

When lawmakers break ethics laws, it upends society because it shatters trust while nullifying the social contract that binds us together in peace and safety.

State ethics laws are an attempt to force the government to rule themselves honestly.

Hubbard ignored the very ethics laws he championed and would do it all again.

He deserves punishment for his unlawful acts, and his prison sentence should stand as a reminder to others that justice doesn’t play favorites.

Hubbard did the crime, and he should serve the time.

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