The first report surfaced yesterday at The Meck, a Dothan-based blog published by David Meckley. Attorney Donald Watkins confirmed last night on his Facebook page that the deal had been finalized. What are details of the deal? Watkins has answers:
Hubbard will: (a) resign from public office; (b) plead guilty to public corruption charges; (c) agree to an 18-month sentence, 12 months of which will be served in the Lee County jail and 6 months of which will be suspended; and (d) be allowed to register as a lobbyist after serving his sentence. As part of his deal, Hubbard will cooperate with state and federal prosecutors investigating allegations of public corruption by Governor Robert Bentley, former governor Bob Riley, and Senate President Del Marsh.
Our Facebook news team first reported on April 17, 2016, that early "street" reports of the deal had been confirmed, including the 18-month sentence. TheMeck.blogspot.com reported additional details of Hubbard's deal in its story.
The Hubbard deal will be publicly announced after the legislature adjourns. The plea deal will be announced in open court on or before the start of Hubbard's scheduled May 16, 2016, criminal trial.
State Rep. Alvin Holmes (D-Montgomery) might have stepped in "doo doo" by issuing a threat last week to legislators who might consider supporting an effort to impeach Bentley. I have wondered publicly if Holmes stepped over the line into criminal extortion with his threat. (See comments at link.) Investigators apparently have the same concern. Writes Watkins:
Investigators are also looking into threatening statements made by State Representative Alvin Holmes (D-Montgomery) to fellow legislators last week to determine whether these statements rose to the level of criminal "extortion" under state law. Holmes threatened to "out" legislators who are engaging in extra-marital affairs if they voted in favor of the House's impeachment resolution against Bentley. Investigators believe Holmes may have crossed the line with his threat.
Breaking reports tend to answer some questions, while raising others. Perhaps the major question raised here is: Why are federal investigators checking into Del Marsh and Bob Riley, what information can Hubbard give them, and will that bring even more prominent Alabama politicos into the fray? Here is an even better question: Will unlawful actions of Indian gaming interests be unearthed, and will that help explain much of the corruption Alabama has experienced over the past 20 years? Come to think of it, could this create a trail that leads to national political figures who have turned Alabama into a legal and political sewer (hello, Karl Rove!)?
Sorry, but once you start thinking about all of the questions this raises, it's hard to stop. It's also hard to wipe the smile off your face at the thought of certain conservative crooks winding up in the orange jumpsuits they so richly deserve.
For now, we know for sure that the Web press has led the way in breaking this story and following its various leads. Writes Watkins:
David Meckley d/b/a TheMeck.blogspot.com, Yellowhammer News, the Alabama Political Reporter, Roger Alan Shuler d/b/a Legal Schnauzer.blogspot.com, and other online journalists continue to lead the state's news media by breaking all of the leading news stories relating to Alabama's high-profile public corruption scandals.
One note of caution: Plea deals, by their nature, are shaky--and this one has plenty of time to fall apart. Writes Watkins:
Hubbard has the legal right to walk away from his plea deal at any time prior to its acceptance by the Court. If he does, his trial will go forward as scheduled.