It was just last month when the Republican state House Speaker in South Carolina was indicted on multiple criminal counts, including “two counts of misconduct in office, six counts of using campaign funds for personal use, and one count of false reporting candidate campaign disclosures.” This month, it happened again, this time in Alabama.
Alabama House Speaker Mike Hubbard was arrested Monday on nearly two dozen felony ethics charges. The prominent Republican turned himself in to Montgomery, Alabama, authorities after being indicted on 23 felony counts, including the misuse of his public office for personal gain.Hubbard, whose book “Storming the Statehouse” details the 2010 Republican takeover of the state’s legislature, which had been led by Democrats for 136 years, was indicted as part of an ongoing investigation in Alabama.Eleven of the charges against the politician allege that he solicited or received items of value “from a lobbyist or principal.” Hubbard was also charged with using his office as Alabama Republican Party chairman for personal gain, voting for legislation despite a conflict of interest, and collecting a fee in exchange for his lobbying services.
If convicted, the GOP lawmaker faces up to 20 years behind bars.
Hubbard issued a statement, which dismissed the allegations as politically motivated. “Friends, if there was any doubt that this was a political witch hunt, I think it is pretty clear right now that is exactly what it is,” Hubbard said. “This has been going on for two years, dragging on and on, and here they come two weeks before an election and make these allegations. The fact is that we’ve done some great things in this state and some powerful people don’t like it.”
He didn’t specify who might be out to get him.
That said, the allegations are quite serious. The local report paints an alarming picture.
According to the indictment, Hubbard solicited favors from some of Alabama’s rich and powerful. They include former Alabama Governor Bob Riley, Business Council of Alabama CEO Billy Canary, Hoar Construction CEO Rob Burton, Great Southern Wood CEO Jimmy Rane, former Sterne Agee CEO James Holbrook, lobbyist Minda Riley Campbell, Harbert Management Corp. vice president Will Brooke and political operative Dax Swatek.Most gave Hubbard what he wanted, according to the indictment, including major investments into Hubbard’s company, Craftmaster Printing.
Under state law, Hubbard can remain in his Speaker’s post, despite the 23 felony counts. There does not yet appear to be any pressure from other Alabama Republican officials for his ouster.
In the larger context, it’s been nearly a decade since Democrats pushed the “culture of corruption” theme against Republicans, but it wouldn’t be too surprising to see the charge make a comeback. Between two GOP state House Speakers facing legal trouble, a host of GOP governors caught up in scandals, and some Republicans in Congress with problems of their own, the old Democratic line arguably has some merit.