Mike Hubbard (politician)

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Mike Hubbard
65th Speaker of the Alabama House of Representatives
In office
November 3, 2010 – June 10, 2016
Preceded by Seth Hammett
Succeeded by Victor Gaston (Acting)
Member of the Alabama House of Representatives
from the 79th district
In office
1998 – June 10, 2016
Preceded by Pete Turnham
Personal details
Born (1962-02-11) February 11, 1962 (age 54)
Hartwell, Georgia, U.S.
Political party Republican
Spouse(s) Susan Hubbard
Children Clayte
Riley
Alma mater University of Georgia
Religion Methodism
Website House website

Mike Hubbard (born February 11, 1962) is a convicted felon[1] and Republican former member of the Alabama House of Representatives, representing the 79th district in Lee County. He was first elected in 1998 and previously served as Speaker of the Alabama House of Representatives. He previously served six years as House Minority Leader (2004–2010) and two terms as chairman of the Alabama Republican Party (2007–2011). He was found guilty of 12 of 23 ethics charges on June 10, 2016, and per state law, was removed from both his position as Speaker and as a member of the Alabama House of Representatives.[2]

As the Alabama GOP chairman, he created and headed Campaign 2010, the most comprehensive fund-raising and coordinated campaign plan in the Party's history. The effort raised over $5 million and, in the November 2010 General Election, resulted in Republicans winning every statewide office, picking up a congressional seat and taking majorities in both Houses of the Alabama Legislature for the first time in the 136 years since the end of the Reconstruction Era.

Career[edit]

Hubbard is a broadcaster and businessman in Auburn, Alabama. His company, Auburn Network, owns and operates four radio stations in the Auburn/Opelika market and publishes a quarterly magazine, East Alabama Living. It also operates an advertising agency, Network Creative Media. His company sold the multi-media rights to Auburn University athletics to International Sports Properties in 2003, which merged with IMG's college sports marketing/broadcasting group in 2010.

Early life and education[edit]

Hubbard was senior class president in his Hartwell, Georgia high school.[3] During high school, Hubbard beat Ralph E. Reed, Jr. to become the Georgia state champion in the Voice of Democracy speech contest.[3] Hubbard went to the University of Georgia on a journalism scholarship, where he helped lead the successful public relations campaign for Herschel Walker’s 1982 Heisman Trophy.[3] After graduating, Hubbard got a job in the Auburn University athletic department and led a successful public relations campaign for Bo Jackson’s 1985 Heisman.[3] Hubbard left Auburn and started a new company, which then won exclusive broadcast rights for all Auburn Tigers sports and made Hubbard a millionaire.[3] Prior to forming Auburn Network in 1994, he served as general manager of Host Communications (1990–1994), and associate sports information director for Auburn University (1984–1990).

Political service[edit]

In 1996 Patrick Nix recommended Hubbard apply his public relations expertise to Bob Riley’s congressional campaign.[3] Riley won and, in gratitude, invited Hubbard to attend the swearing in ceremony in the Alabama State Capitol, where Hubbard says he was impressed by the “symbols of our nation’s power”.[3] In 1998, Bill Canary provided polling during Hubbard's first election campaign.[4] Hubbard won, taking a seat in the Alabama House of Representatives representing much of Lee County, Alabama.[3] Riley won the 2002 Alabama gubernatorial election, and gave Hubbard the leadership of the Alabama Republican Party.[3] Hubbard would later name his youngest son Riley.[4] As leader of the state's party, Hubbard became a member of the Republican National Committee and would visit the White House[3]

Federal prosecutors had been securing felony convictions against leaders of the Alabama Democratic Party at all levels, from Mayor Larry Langford up to Governor Don Siegelman.[3] During the Alabama elections, 2010, Hubbard capitalized on the convictions by campaigning under “A Republican Handshake with Alabama”, which included immigration controls, cuts to government spending, an amendment to the Constitution of Alabama defining conception as the start of human life, and strict new ethics laws.[3] Republicans won in a landslide, with Robert J. Bentley succeeding Governor Riley and Republicans becoming the majority party in both chambers of the legislature.[3]

After some Democratic lawmakers switched parties, Republicans commanded a supermajority, made Hubbard Speaker of the House, and convened an unusual December special session to pass the new ethics laws.[3] Hubbard then doubled the speakership office’s budget to nearly $900,000 and covered his office walls with flat-screen TVs, one of which was dedicated to looping photos of Hubbard with GOP figures such as President George W. Bush.[5]

Republicans soon passed Alabama HB 56 instructing police to arrest anyone who appeared to be an illegal immigrant, which led to the arrests of executives at the Honda Manufacturing of Alabama and Mercedes-Benz U.S. International factories.[5] The law was later declared unconstitutional by federal courts.[6] Hubbard also passed a voter ID law and then shut down the driver license offices the state’s poorest counties.[5]

In 2012, he authored a book about the 2010 Republican takeover in Alabama entitled Storming The State House: The Campaign That Liberated Alabama from 136 Years of Democrat Rule (Montgomery: NewSouth Books).[7] Hubbard paid David Azbell $96,000 in public funds to help write the book.[5]

When in 2013 two eight-page bills granting school choice to students in failing schools passed the House and Senate, instead of reconciling the texts Hubbard abruptly passed a twenty-seven page replacement bill that created a multimillion dollar scholarship program run to be run by former Governor Riley.[5]

In the 2014 GOP primary Mike Hubbard defeated local Auburn businessman Fred "Sandy" Toomer.[8][9] Hubbard's challenger in the November general election was Democrat Shirley Scott-Harris.[10]

Corruption[edit]

An audit by the new chair of the Alabama Republican Party is reported to have found Hubbard spent over $1 million of campaign funds on a printing company he owned, through a deal with Brett Buerck.[3] Hubbard is further reported to have laundered $1.5 million of gambling money from the Poarch Band of Creek Indians into the state GOP through Ed Gillespie's Republican State Leadership Committee and a group associated with Jack Abramoff.[11]

Hubbard did not have a private-sector job after becoming Speaker and had to rely on his $60,000 a year state salary and his wife Susan’s $150,000 salary as a dean of Auburn University.[4] Hubbard is reported to have had a net worth of $8.8 million including multiple commercial properties, his home in Auburn, a lake house, a farm, and a beach condo in the Florida Panhandle.[4]

Hubbard is reported to have solicited work from Riley’s new lobbyist firm and, after Riley secured him a $12,000 a month deal with the Southeast Alabama Gas District, Hubbard replied “I am thankful for my Risen Lord.”[3] Hubbard is reported to have accepted gifts from his old pollster Bill Canary, who by then was a registered lobbyist.[4] Hubbard is then reported to have secured a $5,000 a month deal with American Pharmacy Cooperative, Inc. before he and Greg Wren passed a law granting the company a $40 million a year monopoly on Alabama’s Medicaid prescription drug program.[5] Hubbard is reported to have also secured a $7,500 a month deal with Edgenuity/E2020, and a $10,000 a month deal with a plastic cup manufacturing seeking a contract with Governor Bentley.[3] During the trial, Hubbard's former chief of staff, Josh Blades, testified that when he asked the Speaker why they were helping the cup manufacturer, Hubbard replied "100,000 reasons".[12]

Hubbard is reported to have accepted nearly $420,000 a year from such deals.[3] When Hubbard’s printing business defaulted on a $600,000 loan, he is reported to have accepted $150,000 each from four investors who were currently lobbying the state government.[3] Will Brooke wired Hubbard $150,000 in October 2012.[4] Brooke further gifted an investment plan worth tens of thousands of dollars to Hubbard's printing business.[4] Hubbard assured Brooke that he would make sure the state would direct federal welfare funds to a charity run by Brooke's wife.[4]

Felony convictions[edit]

On October 20, 2014, Hubbard was indicted by a special grand jury in Lee County on 23 counts relating to misusing his office for personal gain and soliciting gifts from lobbyists.[13][14] Each of the 23 counts carries the possibility of a 20 year prison term.[15] The indictments stem from an investigation carried out by former St. Clair County District Attorney Van Davis, who stepped in after the Attorney General of Alabama Luther Strange recused himself.

The investigation led to charges against two other Republican legislators, Greg Wren of Montgomery who pleaded guilty to a charge of knowingly using his office for personal gain and resigned his office.[16] Barry Moore R of Enterprise was charged with perjury and giving false statements, but was eventually found not guilty of all charges.[17]

Hubbard hired former Democratic state Attorney General Bill Baxley for his criminal defense.[3] Two months after his felony indictment Hubbard won reelection in a landslide and was reelected Speaker of the House on a 99-1 vote.[3] When Republican lawmakers opposed Hubbard's tax increases and proposed that party leaders should step down when under felony indictment, Hubbard removed them from their committees.[3] Hubbard refused to resign his position.[18] Huntsville, Alabama representative Phil Williams was also removed from the House Technology Committee after he helped defeat a bill that would have given Hubbard line-item control over the budget of the state Attorney General’s prosecutors.[5]

Speaker Hubbard and Governor Bentley are seeking to issue $800 million in debt paying unnamed, no-bid contractors to build four new privately run state prisons.[5] Investigations into Hubbard exposed Governor Bentley to a sex scandal.[3] Impeachment proceedings against Governor Bentley and the criminal trial of Speaker Hubbard are going on as the Alabama Court of the Judiciary suspended, for the second time, Supreme Court of Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore, for ethics violations.[19]

Hubbard's Chief of Staff,[12] Great Southern Wood CEO Jimmy Rane, famously known as the "Yella Fella" and also the state's richest man, Lobbyists Canary and Brooke,[4] and even Governor Bentley were required to testify at trial.[20] After seven hours of deliberations on June 10, 2016, the jury found Hubbard guilty for on charges relating to the Medicaid monopoly, the plastic cup manufacturer, and for the investments from Will Brooke.[4] Hubbard was convicted on 12 of 23 felony charges and was taken into custody.[2] Hubbard was released on a $160,000 bond and has a sentencing hearing scheduled for July 8.[4]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Alabama House Speaker Mike Hubbard convicted on 12 counts". AL.com. Retrieved 2016-06-11. 
  2. ^ a b Mike Cason (June 10, 2016). "Alabama House Speaker Mike Hubbard convicted on 12 counts". The Birmingham News. Retrieved June 11, 2016. 
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w Miller, Joe (16 May 2016). "Is Mike Hubbard the Most Corrupt Politician in America?". The New Republic. Retrieved 21 May 2016. 
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k Miller, Joe (17 June 2016). "Beyond Mike Hubbard: How Deep Does Corruption in Alabama Go?". The New Republic. Retrieved 23 June 2016. 
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h Miller, Joe (23 May 2016). "How a Corrupt GOP Is Running Alabama Into the Ground". The New Republic. Retrieved 24 May 2016. 
  6. ^ Noriega, David (13 October 2014). "Alabama's Draconian Anti-Immigrant Law Dies With A Whimper". Buzzfeed. Retrieved 21 May 2016. 
  7. ^ Talbot, George (20 June 2012). "Four revelations from Storming the State House". The Birmingham News. Retrieved 22 October 2014. 
  8. ^ http://yellowhammernews.com/statepolitics/alabama-house-senate-races-watch-2014/
  9. ^ http://algop.org/elections-2014/
  10. ^ http://ballotpedia.org/Shirley_Scott-Harris
  11. ^ Burns, Alexander (4 August 2014). "GOP group snared in money schme". Politico. Retrieved 24 May 2016. 
  12. ^ a b Miller, Joe (31 May 2016). "Mike Hubbard Had 100,000 Reasons to Sell Alabama Out". The New Republic. Retrieved 23 June 2016. 
  13. ^ Cason, Mike (2014-10-20). "Alabama House Speaker Mike Hubbard indicted on 23 felony corruption charges by Lee County Grand Jury". al.com. 
  14. ^ Lyman, Bryan (2014-10-20). "Alabama House Speaker Mike Hubbard arrested". Montgomery Advertiser. 
  15. ^ "Alabama Governor Testifies in Corruption Trial, Furthering Spectacle". nytimes.com. 2016-06-02. 
  16. ^ http://www.bizjournals.com, Apr 1, 2014, Rep. Greg Wren arrested and convicted by Antrenise Cole, Reporter, Birmingham Business Journal [1]
  17. ^ http://www.al.com/news/index.ssf/2014/10/barry_moore_trial_hold_1.html
  18. ^ http://www.wkrg.com/story/26849369/speaker-hubbard-refuses-to-resign
  19. ^ Robertson, Campbell (16 May 2016). "Scandals Embroil Alabama Governor, Speaker and Chief Justice". The New York Times. pp. A9. Retrieved 21 May 2016. 
  20. ^ Miller, Joe (6 June 2016). "The Most Shameless Sex Scandal In American Politics". The New Republic. Retrieved 23 June 2016. 

External links[edit]

Alabama House of Representatives
Preceded by
Pete Turnham
Member of the Alabama House of Representatives
from the 79th district

1998–present
Incumbent
Political offices
Preceded by
Seth Hammett
Speaker of the Alabama House of Representatives
2010–present
Incumbent