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Wednesday, March 13, 2013

A "Fiscal Conservative" Takes Over Alabama House And Boosts Certain Spending By 4,700 Percent


Mike Hubbard
(Updated at 2:45 p.m. on 3/13/13. See end of post)

Mike Hubbard became speaker of the Alabama House in 2010--the first Republican in more than 130 years to hold the position--based largely on a pledge to restore honest government and fiscal discipline in Montgomery.

Has Hubbard made good on that promise? Not exactly. In fact, a new report from Bill Britt of the Alabama Political Reporter shows that Hubbard is failing spectacularly.

Using financial data from open.alabama.gov, Britt shows that Hubbard increased spending in the speaker's office by 82.6 percent over Seth Hammett, his Democratic predecessor. But that is just a warm-up for the jaw-dropping numbers to follow.

Consider spending in the area of "outside political consultants": Under Hammett in 2008, the speaker's office spent $2,880. That figure skyrocketed to $135,820.74 under Hubbard in 2012. For Alabama taxpayers who need a little assistance with math, Britt does the heavy lifting--spending for political consultants increased under Hubbard by 4,700 percent.

Gee, how bad would it be if Hubbard was not such a "fiscal conservative"? Reports Britt:

A comparison of total spending for the Office of the Speaker of the House shows that Mike Hubbard has been anything but a fiscal conservative when it comes to spending the public’s money on the perks of his office.

Between the fiscal years 2008 (when Democrat Seth Hammett was Speaker) and fiscal year 2012 (the most recent complete year of spending under Hubbard), total taxpayer dollars spent on running the Office of the Speaker of House nearly doubled.

Total spending for the Office of the Speaker of the House increased 82.6 percent-- from $488,638 under Hammett to $892,492 under Hubbard last year. The office payroll line item increased 54.5 percent under Hubbard, from $364,014.30 in ’08 to $562,511 last year.

As for the astonishing spending on political consultants, much of that went to one man, David Azbell, a founding partner in the Birmingham firm Swatek Azbell Howe and Ross (SAHR). What kind of class act is David Azbell? You can check him out in the video at the end of this post. It speaks volumes about the kind of people that Mike Hubbard showers with taxpayer dollars. Writes Bill Britt:

Of the $135,820.74 in public money spent on outside contracts in Fiscal Year 2012, $96,000 of that was paid by Alabama taxpayers to Azbell Communications, the one-man operation run by David Azbell. Azbell was the co-writer of Hubbard’s vanity book publication, "Storming the Statehouse."

When it comes to furnishing his professional surroundings, Hubbard apparently has the opulent taste of a Las Vegas casino mogul. That is ironic, of course, for a Republican who claims to be against gambling on moral grounds:

Not figured into the double digit-growth of the Speaker’s Office is the tremendous amount that has gone into remodeling the State House and especially the Speaker’s suite of offices. Construction cost and decorating expenses have been hidden, and multiple requests for information have been denied.

The Speaker’s Office now adorned with new carpet, new paint and expanded spaces are just a few of the new trappings of power. The Speaker’s suite is outfitted with multiple flat-screen televisions, one completely dedicated to a continuous rotation of pictures featuring Mike Hubbard with political dignitaries. The Speaker routinely travels with an entourage and personal body guard, many times in two black SUV’s with tinted windows.

How is Mike Hubbard serving Alabama taxpayers? It seems he mostly is taking them on a financial joyride. Britt notes that the speaker's office has spent wildly "while Hubbard has worked to cut state  workers, deny pay increases and downsize government for everyone else."

In other words, it's time for austerity in Alabama--unless you happen to be Mike Hubbard or one of his good buddies. Britt puts it in perspective by noting that Hubbard's fellow Republicans have been remarkably silent about the speaker's actions:

Where is the outcry from those who promised the voters of Alabama that they would end frivolous government spending? Hubbard has outspent Democrats by an unprecedented amount. Yet, not one peep is heard from his followers on the fourth floor of the State House, which has also been graciously remodeled.

No one dares stand-up to “Diamond Mike” because they fear retaliation. One can only hope that once those in the Tea Party and those who still stand for small government are made aware of his reckless spending they will take a stand.

(Updated at 2:45 p.m. on 3/13/13)

Bill Britt has a new article today on the David Azbell video, which can be viewed below. The Britt piece is titled "Hubbard's Chief Consultant says, "Cigars, booze, and good-looking women: That's how Azbell rolls in Vegas." Here is Britt's take on the video:

In what can be only be characterized as shocking, David Azbell, chief consultant to Speaker of the House Hubbard, made a video of himself partying in Las Vegas. Azbell who is paid $8,000 dollars a month in his position with Hubbard, is also founding partner of Swatek, Azbell, Howe & Ross (SAHR), a governmental and political affairs firm located in Montgomery, Alabama.

Azbell co-authored Hubbard's vanity publishing project, "Storming the State House." Hubbard, has long portrayed himself and those in his service as anti-gambling, religious conservatives. However, it appears that his right-hand associated has a liking for, "Cigars, Booze and Good Looking Women."

How is it that Speaker Hubbard employs a man who makes a video in which he appears to be extolling the virtues of gambling, strippers, sex-clubs and other vices?

Azbell's video which has been posted online for over nine months recently surfaced. As a partner with Dax Swatek, Tim Howe and John Ross, Azbell represents some of Alabama's most important lobbying groups such as the Road Builder's Association, Learning Through Sports, and The Alabama Asphalt Pavement Association.

It seems incredible to believe that Mike Hubbard, a man known for his constant vigilance, was unaware of Azbell, semi-pornography video.

This is not the first time Azbell has shown questionable judgment, Britt reports:

It has been long rumored that Azbell left the staff of Governor Bob Riley under a cloud of suspicion involving a young staffer. Toby Roth, who was Bob Riley's Chief of Staff, is said to be the man who handle the settlement with the young staffer in question. Roth refused to answer any questions concerning the matter. The Alabama Political Report has filed a under the Open Record Act requesting all email communications between the staffer and Roth. A staffer who served in the office at the time said that the individual received a settlement in the $50,000 dollar range.

Hubbard, who continues to preach a gospel of conservative government and Alabama Values, seems to find no reason to not employee a man like Azbell who has shown questionable judgement if not outright contempt for the values most Alabamians hold dear.




Untitled from Uhhhh Ohhhhhh on Vimeo.

63 comments:

Anonymous said...

The same Azbell who was fired one step ahead of the sheriff in 2003 for sexual harrassment of the proclamations officer in Bob Riley's office. That is a fact. One Azbell and Hubbard will not talk about.

Why does no one in media ask Mike about his personal assistant being a sex criminal?

Anonymous said...

Hearing the big donors have slammed their checkbooks shut since it's become public that Hubbard is under grand jury investigation. There is a lot going on in the House these days and many representatives seem to think Hubbard will end up in a DoC jumpsuit.

For the first time in a decade I'm optimistic.

Anonymous said...

Where's Eddie Curran now?

legalschnauzer said...

Anon at 8:25--

Are there public records on the Azbell sexual-harassment case? The victim was a woman who worked in Riley's office?

(I'm assuming the victim was a woman. With "conservatives," you never know. Some of them like to take "wide stances.")

DTrain said...

Great reporting by Mr. Britt. Journalism lives in Alabama!

Anonymous said...

Not sure about Eddie Curran's whereabouts, but you can rest assured a bottle of bourbon is nearby.

Anonymous said...

Who does Hubbard think he is? King of France?

Anonymous said...

Good question about "public records" on the Sexual Harrassment by Azbell. It was "handled internally" as they say. The woman was paid off with $50,000 allegedly from the Riley Inaugural Fund . . .checks written on that account by none other than Mike Hubbard himself. Same thing that got Guy Hunt convicted actually.

Rumor is that there may be a paper trail involving e-mails between then Chief of Staff Toby Roth and the victim and others in Riley's office. Maybe someone should search public records on this . . .maybe an open records request?

Anonymous said...

"Proclamations Officer for Riley in 2003" specifies the victim pretty well . . .

Anonymous said...

Want to know how Mike Hubbard's boy, Azbell, rolls in Vegas? Remember, this porcine heart attack in the making is receiving your tax dollars for stroking the Graftmaster's ego.

http://vimeo.com/43126922

legalschnauzer said...

That's a great video. And I love the word "porcine." Perfect usage of a great word.

Anonymous said...

Hubbard is king of Auburn. That's more important than France.

Anonymous said...

Isn't David Azbell in bed with Dax Swatek?

legalschnauzer said...

Yep, they have a consulting outfit in Bham. Two other partners--Howe and somebody.

Anonymous said...

Every time I read about Mike Hubbard, the words "greedy," "little", and "bastard" come to mind.

Why is that?

Anonymous said...

Swatek, Azbell, Howe & Ross - Every single one tied to Mike Hubbard and Bob Riley...

Anonymous said...

Weren't Swatek and Azbell in business with Rob Riley and some LLCs related to gambling? Maybe Paragon Source or Crimsona? Refresh my memory.
Tony M.

Anonymous said...

It appears Hubbard's mobsters are trying a smear campaign against Britt and his wife. An email from a SusanMarshall334 was sent to many trying to discredit both Mr. and Mrs. Britt. It is assumed that this "woman" most likely does not exist and has been created to do the Speaker's dirty work. This mob family running our State government is out of control.
"Power does not corrupt men; fools, however, if they get into a position of power, corrupt power."
- George Bernard Shaw

Anonymous said...

That video is political dynamite. Could be career ending . . .and for more than one person.

legalschnauzer said...

Anon at 11:06--

That sounds familiar. I started writing accurately on this blog about Riley associates, including Dax Swatek's daddy, and both my wife and I wind up losing our jobs under mysterious circumstances. I can feel for Mr. and Mrs. Britt.

Anonymous said...

The Azbell video reminds me of the one where Karl Rove tries to rap--except the Azbell video is even more embarrassing.

legalschnauzer said...

I've updated the post to include the Azbell video. It is embedded at the end of the post. This is where Mike Hubbard sends lots of taxpayer dollars, so it certainly is relevant.

Anonymous said...

The Azbell video is astonishing. Had never seen that. Will share with numerous friends. This guy has the maturity of a third grader.

Anonymous said...

It ought to be called Fat Schlub Productions. God, he's disgusting.

Anonymous said...

Azbell was in Vegas to see Adelbert . . .I mean Englebert.

Bob Riley got them the trip with all his buds at the Mirage. The ones tht sent him the money in 2002.

Anonymous said...

Rumor has it that Luther Strange was the cameraman, and Head Aide Jessica Medeiros Garrison has a cameo as the chick on the table top.

Anonymous said...

Does Azbell have a drinking problem? That video appears to be the work of someone with a drinking problem?

Anonymous said...

God, Azbell makes Karl Rove look like Tupac Shakur.

Hilarious! This politico actually put that out there for public consumption?

Anonymous said...

Anon @ 12:06

The rumors about Strange are coming from the Hubbard camp. Heard one of Mike's boys mention it the other day. As a matter of fact, it may have even been you I heard it from. Your boss is pissed that Strange didn't stop the investigation into his money laundering and now he's trying to "Troy King" Strange's reputation.

The Junior High Mafia has sprung a leak, kiddo.

Anonymous said...

Azbell looks to be the type who would have no other choice than to purchase prostitutes! I would wager that part was edited from this video and our tax dollars helped fund it. Not a pretty visual. He's repulsive and not in the least bit funny or entertaining.

Molli said...

To those with technical savvy, please get this video onto disc because the spin doctors will have this video disappear.

Anonymous said...

Who was the cinematographer on that video, by the way? Were they "working" on the taxpayer dime?

Anonymous said...

David Azbell in Vegas? I thought he and Hubbard were morally opposed to gambling.

Coyote Lane said...

Scientology owner too?

Or, just a Zionist doing the good work of "God" cleaning up the pest ridden planet of nature's choices.

Of course he is chosen, just ask him.

LS, the biggest banking collapse, Bank of U.S.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bank_of_United_States

a private bank, and it appears THE first "model" for the Great Depression began with how to "Desk Drawer Corporations," that is the FRAUD we see which is how many umbrellas can the criminals pop open to keep OFF Americans' rain of hell fire and brimstone, these evildoers are betting on the end times - count on it, how can a correction happen in the U.S. of A.?

Naught. Where are the future maggots to get their flesh!?

Kill us all.

http://www.scribd.com/doc/129984013/Fortune-Magazine-1933-Cast-of-Characters-Five-Jews-and-one-Gentile-played-the-chief-roles-in-the-tragic-comedy-of-the-Bank-of-U-S

delve deeply Roger Shuler, the sordid reality is rotten and must be exposed post haste.

Anonymous said...

An I reading this correctly? Did anon 12:20 just accuse anon 12:06 of being connected with Hubbard and starting rumors about Strange? LS, I love your blog! We need to figure out how to get the stay at home housewives involved in this blog instead of soaps. This stuff would spread like wild fire in a matter of minutes regardless of the media blackout!

Anonymous said...

Someone said Azbell was involved in a sexual harassment case? Gee, after watching the video, I can't imagine that.

legalschnauzer said...

Anon at 12:16--

My understanding is that Azbell sent this work of art to a number of friends via e-mail. Someone must have leaked it, and the thing wound up on the Web. Now, it's on LS.

Anonymous said...

The De-evolution of a Republican Operative:

Azbell. Azzzzbell. Assssbell. AssClown.

Anonymous said...

It's the Hangover Part 3 starring David Azbell as "Alan"! With Jay Love as "Doug", Robert Bentley as "Stu" ("You're not a REAL doctor, Stu!), Del Marsh as "Phil" and Mike Hubbard as "Mr. Chow"!!!!

Anonymous said...

Han anyone read "Storming the State House," the book that Hubbard and Azbell wrote together?

Are there any passages where they announce their moral opposition to gambling, in all forms?

If so, I wonder how they explain the Azbell video and his apparent taste for all things Vegas.

Anonymous said...

Now Bill Britt has something similar up on his website. I'm starting to really like this guy. I guess all Republicans don't suck.

http://www.alreporter.com/al-politics/political-news/state-news/4342-hubbards-chief-consultant-says-qcigars-booze-and-good-looking-women-thats-how-azbell-rolls-in-vegasq.html

Anonymous said...

It's "Vegas Vacation" with Robert Bentley as Clark W. Griswold and David Azbell as "Cousin Eddy!"

Anonymous said...

Awesome video. Made my day.Thanks Easter Bunny!!!!!

TLR said...

I'm not an expert on this, but that video looks like it was professionally done. The lighting, editing, music, etc. looks like this was done by someone with a little ability in the field of video. I'm thinking someone spent money to have this done. Wonder where that money came from.

Anonymous said...

Bob Riley to David Azbell, March 13, 2013:

"Boy, what happens in Vegas STAYS in Vegas. Except for the big bags of money casino operators give you to say gambling is bad in Alabama. Take those with you. But EVERYTHING ELSE stays in Vegas . . ."

legalschnauzer said...

TLR:

I had that same reaction. The content, obviously, is goofy, but I see signs of genuine production values. I don't think this was done by some clodhead who happened to have a video camera. It might not be a full-time pro, but I think it's someone with some talent and experience. For such a tasteless video, the production has a certain level of class.

Anonymous said...

To the tune of "Stu's Song" from "The Hangover":

"What does Azbell dream of/When he takes a little fatass snooze?/Does he dream about pork rind nachos/Or Condi Rice in her birthday suit?/Well don't you worry your walrus-like head/We're gonna get you back to Swatek and your cozy partner bed/And then we're gonna call AEA a "bunch of thugs"/And Mike is gonna give us a "special" hug/Hug, oh hug! Hug, huggy huggy hug hug!/ . . .But if we get exposed as lying thieving assholes . .then we're shit out of lick."

legalschnauzer said...

I think you might have a future as a lyricist.

Anonymous said...

Shelby county lawyers, Bob Riley, Mike Hubbard are classless, egotistical maniacs on crack. I bet Azbell's office has leopard print chairs and purple velvet wallpaper. He is a fat ass who should stay away from the camera lens as much as possible.

He is behaving like he is 16 years old in that video. Who the hell did he think wanted to see his fat ass?

Anonymous said...

Readers: someone MUST get this video in the hands of Daniel Tosh. NOW.

Anonymous said...

How many copies of their book have sold? Might that number be the cause of this intoxication of stupid?

Anonymous said...

I think Azbell has a future as an actor. Some prospective roles:

"David Azbell in 'VegASS!''

"Dax Swatek and David Azbell ARE 'Siegfried and Roy - Only Fatter!'"

"David Azbell in 'Casino Royale WITH CHEESE' - a Quentin Tarantino Film."

"David Azbell in 'Animal House 2: Flounder DID Go Through Life Fat, Drunk, and Stupid!'"

Anonymous said...

I think "Storming the StateHouse." left out the part about raping and pillaging the statehouse

Anonymous said...

Just the name "Mike Hubbard" sounds like the name of a prisoner. His legacy would fit the role well........"Part II, Storming the State Pen". His greased back hair-do looks the part too.

Anonymous said...

Is joe hubbard Mike's son?

legalschnauzer said...

Joe Hubbard definitely is not Mike's son. In fact, I'm pretty sure there is no relation.

Anonymous said...

No there is no relation. None whatsoever.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joe_Hubbard

Anonymous said...

One of Mike's son is named Riley. And no. I am not joking.

jeffey spruill said...

Mr. Schnauzer:

When I read: Some of them like to take "wide stances" --- I can't stop laughing.

I swear- that brought tears to my eyes.

Anonymous said...

@ 3:32 who is Daniel Tosh?

legalschnauzer said...

Anon at 9:09--

Must admit that I had to ask the same question. Turns out he is a comedian on Comedy Central. I believe his show comes on just before or right after The Daily Show, with Jon Stewart.

Anonymous said...

Ah see Hubbard is Methodist. What is it with NeoCons being Methodist? Do they congregate on Sundays and decide how to destroy the country during church or do they wait until after they've prayed and then do so over lunch? The patterns are too obvious!

Anonymous said...

They are Methodists because they believe all women should use The Rhythym Method of Birth Control. NO ABORTIONS!