Now, it appears Montgomery-based G. Baron Coleman has added to our list of political hacks. As a lawyer, conservative talk-show host, and political consultant, you might say Coleman is a "triple threat" bottom feeder. He is a partner in Spot On Strategies Group, whatever that is.
Actually, we've seen signs before that Coleman is a sketchy character, and we've reported on the subject several times. (See here, here, and here.) But his latest tactic is a real jaw-dropper.
Coleman has been a consistent critic of Alabama House Speaker Mike Hubbard (R-Auburn), who faces 23 counts of felony ethics violations, with a trial date set for March 28. But Hubbard defense lawyers filed a motion dated February 2, and it included an affidavit from Coleman in which he claims to have had 50 to 100 conversations with prosecutor Matt Hart about the investigation and grand-jury activities. (See full motion at the end of this post.)
Coleman admits to activities that are so low they almost make us feel sorry for Mike Hubbard--and I didn't think that was possible.
Hubbard's lawyers argue that the Coleman affidavit proves prosecutors have leaked confidential and privileged information to the media in an effort to destroy the Speaker. They further argue that Hart has perpetrated a fraud on the court and engaged in misconduct that should cause the charges against Hubbard to be dropped.
Circuit Judge Jacob Walker has set a hearing for February 10 to consider charges of prosecutorial misconduct.
Why is the Coleman affidavit such a shocker? For one thing, Coleman never has shown signs of being a Hubbard fan. In a March 2015 column at Alabama Political Reporter (APR), Coleman essentially said Hubbard was a liar, driven by envy and anger. Hubbard was particularly incensed, Coleman wrote, that former Governor Bob Riley seemingly was making millions off Hubbard's reign as Speaker--while Hubbard made do with a relatively paltry salary as a "public servant."
From Coleman's column, which portrayed Hubbard in an extremely unflattering light:
Riley was making what many speculate was millions of dollars off of Hubbard’s time as Speaker, and Hubbard was left with his $70,000 a year Speaker’s salary, his wife’s $145,000 a year job at Auburn University, and an ultimatum from Hubbard’s employer IMG that he either leave politics or lose his job.
That is why Hubbard initially dropped hints and later seethed with rage about his finances. That is why Hubbard repeatedly asked if there was a way he could come work for Bob Riley and Associates. That is why Hubbard threatened to quit and walk away from politics if he couldn’t come up with a way to make more money.
He wasn’t broke. That was a lie. Hubbard’s August 2012 financial statement states Hubbard had a net worth of close to $7.8 million and liabilities of only about $600,000. It is irrational to conclude that with a $7.8 million net worth and a bare minimum of $215,000 a year in combined tax-payer funded salary between Hubbard and his wife, he would need to harass the rich and powerful with requests for business opportunities to avoid financial ruin.
Hubbard’s bizarre behavior was not motivated by greed or poverty; it was motivated by anger and envy.
Second, the affidavit comes from the same Baron Coleman whom Hubbard lawyers sought to subpoena last fall. In a carefully worded motion to quash the subpoena, Coleman more or less said he knew nothing that would help Hubbard's case and called the lawyers' actions an "impermissible and improper fishing expedition."
This is the same guy who now seems to know a lot that could help Hubbard's case and even welcomes the chance to become part of a "fishing expedition," such as an evidentiary hearing focused on Matt Hart? What happened between last September and now to change Baron Coleman's mind so radically? A reasonable person might ask: Was Baron Coleman lying then or is he lying now?
APR Publisher Bill Britt, who has given Coleman space in the publication and had him as a panelist on The Voice of Alabama Politics, is among many Alabama political observers who now are scratching their heads. From a Britt column on the subject:
On February 2, Coleman claimed he had between 50 and 100 conversations with Matt Hart, Chief of the Special Prosecutions Unit. “These conversations were in reference to the Mike Hubbard investigation, and the Lee County Special Grand Jury,” Coleman said in his sworn statement to the court.
Coleman was subpoenaed to testify at the first evidentiary hearing Judge Waker ordered on prosecutorial misconduct on October 26, 2015. In his motion to quash, Coleman said he had nothing to testify to and referred to his subpoena as “nothing more than an impermissible, improper fishing expedition.”
In his motion, Coleman stated to the court, . . . "the Defendant has no basis to know what testimony Coleman could provide. Thus, the Defendants’ subpoena is nothing more than an impermissible and improper fishing expedition designed to get around the rules of discovery in his criminal trial.”
What might be driving Coleman's about-face? Britt attempts to provide some insight on a murky situation:
For over two years, Coleman has been a fierce critic of Hubbard in his writings, on radio, and TV, and a staunch defender of Hart, and the prosecution. Coleman’s perceived turnabout has sent tongues wagging around, not only the State House, but around the entire State.
In his affidavit, he alleges Hart threatened to bring him before a grand jury after it was rumored he had passed along information he claims he received from Hart, to his former law partner, then Rep. Joe Hubbard (D-Montgomery). He claims he came forward, in part, because he was “recently contacted by law enforcement, and met with them in reference to how and why I received grand jury information from the Lee County Special Grand Jury, and with regard to the conduct of Matt Hart in the Hubbard case.”
Coleman’s statements have been welcomed by the Hubbard camp, while he has been roundly denounced by others.
What were Coleman's really dirty actions against Hubbard? That involves the 2014 GOP primary, in which Coleman worked for Sandy Toomer, Hubbard's opponent. Coleman said he used information from Hart to generate a "whisper campaign" against Hubbard. What were the whispers about? That remains unknown.
But they didn't work because Hubbard won handily. Here is the bigger question: Who does Baron Coleman think he is--Karl Rove?