Tuesday, May 17, 2016

"Is Mike Hubbard the most corrupt politician in America?" magazine headline asks; heck, I'm not sure Hubbard is the most corrupt politician in Alabama

Mike Hubbard
(From newrepublic.com)
A national magazine article published yesterday carries this glaring headline: "Is Mike Hubbard the most corrupt politician in America?" My immediate response, as a journalist who has blogged about legal and political issues in the Deep South for almost nine years, was: "Heck I'm not sure Hubbard is even the most corrupt politician in Alabama." After all, there is stiff competition for that title.

The New Republic (TNR) reporter Joe Miller makes a compelling case that Hubbard, whose criminal trial starts with jury selection this week, is the scoundrel of all scoundrels--a lowlife whose abuse of the public trust deserves national condemnation. Consider this from Miller's article:

The story of Mike Hubbard sounds like an only-in-Alabama joke: A politician runs a statewide campaign against corruption, wins big, quickly passes some of the toughest ethics laws in the nation, then gets skewered by those very laws. But the case against Hubbard, the Speaker of the Alabama House, is no laughing matter. Even in a place where political corruption is as much a part of the landscape as kudzu, the extensiveness and brazenness of his alleged crimes have stunned even longtime followers of politics in the state.

“Mike Hubbard has been the overlord of an orgy of greed and corruption like we have never seen,” Bill Britt, host of Alabama’s weekly political talk show, The V, declared in a recent episode. “He is the Caligula of Alabama. Just a tyrant, and a mean and perverse guy.”

I can't quarrel with a word Miller has written, or Britt has spoken, above. But I can think of at least four Alabama political figures--current governor Robert Bentley, former governor Bob Riley, attorney general Luther Strange (who is prosecuting Hubbard), and GOP operative and former "first son" Rob Riley--who I think might leave Hubbard in the dust when it comes to corruption. If you include state and federal judges as political figures--and they are either elected or appointed in a political process--Hubbard might not even make Alabama's "Top 40."

Miller does a splendid job of portraying Hubbard as an overgrown sewer rat who wears nice ties. From the TNR piece:

From the beginning there were signs that Hubbard’s self-portrayal as a warrior for good government was an act. Hubbard’s hometown paper, Opelika-Auburn News, reported that he’d spent party money on services from one of his own businesses, Craftmaster Printers. Hubbard told the small-town reporter it was much ado about nothing. “Out of about 80 candidates, you have only two using Craftmaster,” he said. “Is this really a story?”

But his successor as chair of the state party had the accounts audited and found that Hubbard had bought more than $1 million worth of printing from Craftmaster with campaign funds that he controlled. Much of it came through a deal with Marketing Solutions of Florida, a political direct mail vendor that’s worked for Republican campaigns across the country, including Mitt Romney’s 2012 bid for president. The company is run by Brett Buerck, who fled Ohio in the early 2000s in the wake of a scandal that cost Larry Householder his position as Speaker of the House.

Then the Montgomery Advertiser reported that Hubbard had used the national Republican State Leadership Committee (RSLC) to launder gambling money from the Poarch Creek Indians to the state GOP. With three casinos in the state, the Poarch Creek had a monopoly, and Hubbard and his colleagues reached out to them to support their candidates, who opposed an expansion of gambling in the state that would create new competitors for the Poarch Creek. The money was funneled through the RSLC to hide donations that would be politically toxic to conservative values voters in the Alabama GOP’s base. (Politico later obtained an internal RSLC document that candidly confirmed that Hubbard and the committee had consciously broken the law.)

When an investigation of Hubbard started, he responded with one of the most disingenuous statements ever made in public:

“What happens when conservatives stand up to Barack Obama?” he asked. “They get attacked. . . . ”

Two months before Election Day 2014, the grand jury came back with 23 indictments against Hubbard. Again Hubbard blamed Obama, calling the case against him a “political witch hunt.”

How big  a pile of rubbish is this? Hubbard is being prosecuted by Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange, a fellow Republican. It is a state case, guided by state law. There is no indication that Obama or the federal justice department has played a role in the case. If anything, Obama has taken a hands-off approach to Republican scoundrels like Hubbard (and Karl Rove and George W. Bush and Dick Cheney and Alberto Gonzalez and . . . ) since taking office in 2009.

Could Hubbard be the poster child for political opportunists--the kind who use public office for private gain? Absolutely. Is Hubbard guilty of the charges against him? It's hard to see how a rational being could respond with any answer but "yes."

But there is a flip side. It has been widely reported that Strange sees Hubbard as a prime competitor for a 2018 run at the governorship--and the prosecution is designed to leave Hubbard's political future in tatters. If that is true, Mike Hubbard is the victim of a political prosecution, very much like the one that took down former Democratic governor Don Siegelman. If a political prosecution is proven, any convictions against Hubbard could be overturned, as a matter of law.

Here is something else to keep in mind. Hubbard is charged with violating state ethics laws--and that is a serious matter--but we've seen evidence in recent days that suggests major Alabama political figures have violated federal bribery laws. If such charges are brought and proven, they could dwarf the Hubbard case in scope and seriousness.

Who are some of Hubbard's prime contenders for the title of "Alabama's Most Corrupt Politician"? We will examine that question in an upcoming post.


Anonymous said...

I think Hubby is No. 1, but I agree it's a close call.

legalschnauzer said...

Here is one thing that makes it tough: The charges against Hubbard have been spelled out in an indictment, so we have an idea of what he's done. Bentley is being investigated, but no charges yet, and I'm not aware of any Riley Inc. member (other than Hubbard) being seriously investigated. So our knowledge of what some of these folks might have done is limited.

Anonymous said...

Nice to see our fine state getting national attention from The New Republic. Rachel Maddow also had it on last night, with stuff about Hubbard, Bentley, and Moore all being in trouble.

Anonymous said...

What a dilemma. The list is like a floating mass of turds; which is worse almost doesn't matter anymore, they all stink!


Anonymous said...

Love Bill Britt's comparison of Hubbard to Caligula. LOL!

Anonymous said...

Isn't that an insult to Caligula?

legalschnauzer said...

Thanks for an informative comment, @1:33. Yes, McEachren, it's believed, was connected to the mysterious death of Bob Caviness--and Caviness' "suicide" came not long after the "suicide" of Ralph Stacy, of the Business Council of Alabama. To my knowledge, neither the Stacy death nor the Caviness death ever has been adequately investigated.

And you are right about the error in TNR article. It was Majority Strategies.

I wish you could contact Joe Miller, author of the TNR article, to get that corrected. You also might mention the McEachren angle. He might find it interesting.

Miller is on the faculty at Columbus State U in Georgia. Here is link to his faculty page, including contact info:


legalschnauzer said...

A source tells me that the name of Brett Buerck's company might have been changed. He apparently changes company names quite often. It definitely was Majority Strategies at one point.

There have been way too many unexplained deaths in Alabama over past 8-10 years, and I would love to see the truth come out about some of them. I don't think for one minute that Ralph Stacy and Bob Caviness killed themselves. I've never thought Major Bashinsky killed himself.

Given what we know about Baker and McEachren, I wonder if law enforcement was involved in at least some of those deaths.

This gets personal for me because I strongly believe the plan was to have cops kidnap both me and Carol and have us killed, with an official finding of "suicide." I think that's why Rob Riley's lawsuit file was sealed, and it's why Riley sued Carol, when there were no grounds for doing so. Cops' inability to abduct Carol nixed that plan because she was able to drum up media attention for my arrest. But I still suspect our lives are in danger.

It's interesting that I've heard one person, who I think knows something about what really went on, made a statement hinting that cops were frustrated because Carol hardly ever came out of house so they could arrest her while driving a car.

Anonymous said...

Bob Riley taught Hubby everything he knows. Big Bob has to be No. 1.

Anonymous said...

If Hubbard chooses to go to trial, it tells me he knows (or thinks) the thing is rigged in his favor. No way he beats these charges in an honest trial, unless Lutha's people are incompetent beyond belief--and that might be possible.

Anonymous said...

What happened to the informative comment @1:33?

legalschnauzer said...

That's a good question, @4:59. Thanks for bringing to my attention. Will look into it. I didn't take it down, certainly not intentionally. I thought it was a good comment. Don't think there is any way I could have accidentally deleted. Killing comments is somewhat involved. I don't know if the sender, or someone else, has the capability of deleting a comment. I didn't think they did, but I'm not sure.

If the sender of 1:33 comment will resend, would be appreciated. Not sure if I still have a copy, but will check.

Anonymous said...

Well I am the sender and I didn't delete it. AFAIK the only way that can be done by the comment poster on the platform you are running is if the is posted under a blogger profile which is then deleted.

I don't have a copy but will repost the basic substance if you do not find a way to recover it.

Fresh Burritos Instantly!

legalschnauzer said...

Thanks for your response, @5:32. I don't have a copy either, so would be great if you could repost the basic substance. If I did something to cause it, I sure apologize, because I thought it was an excellent comment. Not sure what I might have done, but I can't think of any other explanation, except for a goof on my part.

Anonymous said...

For a state that uses legal means and police to punish people [like Roger] who tell the truth, maybe they're getting what they deserve. It's a very sad time for all the fine, honest Alabamians forced to endure this embarrassment.

Someone should write a piece about how politicians, authorities, business people and others can be compromised by the kind of information bloggers have the courage to publish–– often writing with the very real fear of potential legal retaliation.

An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

Anonymous said...

The missing comment was resubmitted about 12 hours ago.

Anonymous said...

Bentley, Hubbard, Moore and again were leaving out Fuller.

legalschnauzer said...

Thanks for the heads up, @12:13, but I don't see it. Not sure what is happening with the comment. If you have a copy, can you send again? I'll be on the look out for it. Sorry for the confusion. I'm starting to wonder if someone has hacked my account and found something about that comment sensitive enough that it needed to be removed.

Might need to contact my tech experts to put a trace on possible hacks.

Anonymous said...

Flowers By Irene!

Posting again in a minute.

Anonymous said...

The comment originally posted at 1:33 PM raised the question whether Mike Hubbard (native of Opelika) knew or was acquainted with former FBI agent (and onetime partner of FBI agent Keith Baker) John McEachern. McEachern round tripped from the Opelika Police Department to the FBI and then back to an FBI assignment in the Opelika Auburn Area. Currently McEachern is the Opelika Police Chief.
Apparently (according to the allegations made in this complaint) both McEachern and Baker were involved together in the rather infamous "Bingo" investigation and prosecution. Additional online report concerning the Bingo trial: Fireworks punctuate restart of bingo trial

"Defense lawyers tried to establish FBI investigators developed an agenda in the case, but prosecutors seemed to successfully block that tactic.

McEachern was also asked about state investigators assisting in the wiretaps and if they were on former Governor Bob Riley’s Anti-Gambling Task Force. Prosecutors objected to defendant Jay Walker’s attorney Susan James questions about state involvement in the federal investigation."

Basic biographical information for John McEachern was in this Al.com story. City of Opelika names new police chief (updated)

"McEachern was with the Opelika Police department from 1974 to 1988, serving in the following divisions: communications, patrol and traffic, and the detective division. He reached the rank of corporal in 1986.

After leaving the OPD he went to the FBI where he served in the Pittsburgh Division from 1988 until 1993, investigating financial institution fraud, Medicare fraud, bank robberies, fugitives and kidnapping.

From 1993 to 1996 McEachern served the FBI in Los Angeles, Ca. assigned to the violent crime squad, concentrating on gangs. In 1996, he was assigned to the Los Angeles Division’s bank robbery squad, focusing on bank and armored carrier robberies. In 2001, he was promoted to supervisory special agent, and was responsible for the supervision of 14 agents and three support personnel.

From 2006 to 2012, he came back to the Mobile Division, Opelika/Auburn Division Resident Agency, and was assigned to a variety of federal violations focusing primarily on Public Corruption and white collar crimes."

So it seems logical to wonder what type of relationship (if any) these Opelika hometown heroes Mike Hubbard and John McEachern had. Opelika isn't that big a place, these guys seem like they both might big frogs in that small pond.

The comment which disappeared also referred to this recent LS post: Alabama House Speaker Mike Hubbard goes on trial today in a state where outrageous courtroom shenanigans have become almost the norm.

Absent from the previous comment was any reference to the various allegations made concerning various campaign contributions from entities which had interests in opposition to the targeted bingo operations. They are included here for completeness.

See among others: Chronology of the Hubbard Scandal

Will Mike Hubbard and Bob Riley Be Indicted In Indian Gaming Probe--And Where Is Rob Riley's Name In The Lee County Investigation?

Anonymous said...

Comment resent.

Anonymous said...

Check the spam folder if there is one. The attempted repost comment has more links than the original. Perhaps too many?

legalschnauzer said...

Good deal. I did check the spam folder and think I found it, now published at 12:46. Is that it? Going to keep an eye on it since it's been a bit slippery. Again, excellent comment, and thanks for sharing your insights.

Anonymous said...

That's it at 12:46.

Anonymous said...

This just in--Trump's list (of potential Supreme Court picks) includes: Steven Colloton of Iowa, Allison Eid of Colorado, Raymond Gruender of Missouri, Thomas Hardiman of Pennsylvania, Raymond Kethledge of Michigan, Joan Larsen of Michigan, Thomas Lee of Utah, William Pryor of Alabama, David Stras of Minnesota, Diane Sykes of Wisconsin and Don Willett of Texas.

legalschnauzer said...

Thanks for sharing, @2:02. Quite a rogue's gallery. I assume Jeff Sessions has been whispering sweet nothings about Pryor in Trump's ear. "The Donald" mentioned Pryor back in March, and I wrote a post about it:


Anonymous said...


Down boy Down!

Bad Puppy!

Anonymous said...

Pryor won't be selected

Anonymous said...

Trump won't be elected. But to see him nominate Pryor and have all the badpuppy stuff come out . . . I'd buy two front-row seats for that.

Anonymous said...

The Hubbard jury is seated.

As far as Hubbard flipping, and taking a plea deal- it is about time for him to either shit or get off the pot.

e.a.f. said...

well at least in Alabama they charge them and bring them to trial.

This is ever so much better than anything on t.v. I'd love to watch the trial. Will you be writing on it?

One of the not so legit politicians prosecuting another "not so legit" politician. Only in Alabama you say, pity. Looks good on him and who knows, next time it might be the Luther.