Friday, May 15, 2015

Alabama's Mike Hubbard clings to power as Missouri House speaker steps down over intern sex scandal

Missouri House Speaker John Diehl
Missouri's Republican House speaker resigned yesterday after admitting he exchanged sexually charged text messages with a female intern. Mike Hubbard, who holds a similar position in Alabama, meanwhile clings to power despite a 23-count criminal indictment for alleged violations of state ethics laws.

John Diehl resigned from the Missouri Legislature in the wake of a Kansas City Star report that provided details about his relationship with Katie Graham, an intern and college freshman at Missouri Southern State University. Diehl, who is married and has three sons, faces no criminal allegations, but he admitted the text messages call into question his fitness for leadership. From a report at Yahoo!

Diehl acknowledged "making a serious error in judgment by sending the text messages" to the intern, who no longer works at the Capitol.

"I'm going to do what's best for the (House) body and the (Republican) caucus, and step aside out of my office," Diehl said in an interview with The Associated Press and reporters from three other media outlets.

"I made a mistake," Diehl said. "It's one that calls into question my ability to lead."

Does a 23-count indictment--plus an ongoing grand-jury investigation that could lead to additional charges against Hubbard and others--say anything about the Alabama speaker's ability to lead? Apparently not.

Intern Katie Graham
(From Daily Mail)
What led to Diehl's downfall in Missouri? Jason Hancock, of The Kansas City Star, reports:

The discovery of the text messages between Diehl and the intern follows a decision by Missouri Southern State University to end its Capitol internship program more than a month prematurely.

Richard Miller, dean of the School of Arts and Sciences at Missouri Southern, told The Star that the school pulled its four interns out of the state Capitol this spring after an unspecified incident. Yet Miller, citing student privacy laws, declined to be more specific about what led the university to end the internships.

Missouri Southern has held a legislative internship program for the past 20 years, sending students to the United Nations in New York City and Washington, D.C.

“This is the first time we have pulled all the interns,” Miller said. “Usually, when something happens, it is a problem with the interns themselves, but that was not the situation this year.”

The Star obtained the text conversations and contacted Diehl about them three weeks ago. After some apparent misdirection from Diehl and his staff, the newspaper published key sections of the texts on Thursday. From The Star report:

Screenshots of the text messages between Diehl and the intern are punctuated throughout with emoticons and emojis — cartoonish faces that smile or wink. They paint a picture of playful sexual innuendo.

Her: “You better take care of me.”

Diehl: “Like how?”

Her: “I’ll bet you’ll figure it out.”

Diehl: “I dunno. You have always been disappointed;)”

Her: “I just have high expectations, I guess. Thus far, you’ve done pretty well (an emoji blows a kiss)”

Diehl: “:). I kinda want to hear what you are expecting”

Then, shortly after, he types: “You will be in good hands :)”

At one point Diehl texts her “God I want you right now,” to which she replies “I wish you could have me right now.”

In another exchange, she sends a picture of herself in a bikini and Diehl responds: “Damn girl . . . ”


Shortly after he writes: “I want to see more” followed by a smiling emoji.

Another exchange centered on Diehl texting that he was “Laying in bed looking at your pic :)”

She responded: “Mmmmm why can’t I be there :)”

Mike Hubbard
What about the misdirection from Diehl's staff? That might be the most intriguing part of the story. It shows the trickery and deception that is possible in today's world of digital communication. Also, it came after Diehl had agreed to an interview with the newspaper and then backed out. From Jason Hancock's report at The Star:

Another week later, last Friday, [Diehl's] staff offered to deliver records for both his personal cellphone and another cellphone paid for by his law firm, Husch Blackwell. Those records took several days to produce. They showed just six text messages sent from the intern to Diehl.

While they were presented as evidence that no significant text exchange with the intern occurred, they show only a log of conventional text messages.

Yet the texts obtained by The Star and presented last month to Diehl show conversations over Apple’s proprietary iMessage platform. Texts on iMessage wouldn’t show up on a cellphone record unless they were sent or received when no Wi-Fi or mobile Internet connection is available.

Neither Diehl nor his staff ever mentioned that he regularly uses iMessage to send texts until asked by The Star on Tuesday.

In other words, Diehl tried to hide the damaging messages until a newspaper reporter caught on to his game and trapped him in a corner. That raises these questions, from an Alabama perspective: (1) Does Mike Hubbard use the iMessage platform, and if so, have prosecutors checked it for messages? (2) What about Hubbard allies who have been connected to the Lee County grand jury--including former Governor Bob Riley; his children, lawyers Rob Riley and Minda Riley Campbell; lawyer Bill Baxley; and former Attorney General staffers Sonny Reagan and Gene Sisson? Do those folks use iMessage, and has law enforcement checked any messages on the Apple platform?

It's obvious John Diehl is not an honorable guy; he tried to hide his ugly secret and only resigned when a newspaper nailed him with evidence he could not refute.

Does a similar fate await Mike Hubbard, and perhaps some of his associates, in Alabama?


Chuckles said...

Got to give the Missouri speaker credit for being a good old-fashioned hetero horn dog. How refreshing.

Anonymous said...

Missouri guy's texts were relatively tame. Surprised he didn't try to hang on.

Berle said...

Got to agree, Chuckles. When I saw the guy was a Republican, I expected the intern to be a young man.

Anonymous said...

This part doesn't sound so tame:

"Him: We need a lot of time and quiet room.

Her: That sounds amazing.

Him: Will have my way with you.

Her: Soon enough.

Him: And leave you quivering."

Bad boy! Bad, bad Republican boy.

Anonymous said...

I hear there is some sex stuff in the Hubbard investigation, but it just hasn't hit the press yet.

Anonymous said...

Wasn't Matt Hart quoted in a court doc as asking if Dax Swatek was homosexual? What was that about?

legalschnauzer said...

Not sure what that was about, but we reported on the Dax Swatek comment here:

I, too, have heard about possible sex-related angles to Hubbard case. Don't have specifics--yet.

Anonymous said...

I think Hubby believes Susan Hubbard holds the key to his freedom. She's the pert, blonde wife, and a majority white Lee County jury is likely to feel bad about locking up her hubby. When this goes to trial, look for Susan to be in front of cameras. Of course, if it's shown that Hubby wasn't such a faithful hubby . . . well, that might change the equation.

e.a.f. said...

Sex always is "worse" in the eyes of the American voters than out and out criminal activity.