Consider the testimony of former Governor Bob Riley last Friday and yesterday. Prosecutor Matt Hart repeatedly placed e-mails between Hubbard and Riley on a large screen, providing easy viewing for everyone in the Lee County courtroom. Time and again, the e-mails showed that Riley and Hubbard used "the mantle of the speaker's office" to make money, much of it for Riley and his well-heeled lobbying clients.
It's hard to imagine a more blatant violation of the Alabama Ethics Law. In fact, the e-mails strongly suggest the kind of "quid pro quo" that might entail a violation of federal bribery law. We are left with two glaring questions: (1) Where have the feds been during all of this? and (2) Why hasn't Bob Riley been indicted?
Despite the damning evidence, which all non-sleeping, semi-sentient jurors should have seen, there was Bill Baxley telling us this was all about "friendship"--that Riley was doing this only because he "loves Hubbard like a brother."
We've seen this kind of skulduggery from Baxley before. After all, he represented Jessica Medeiros Garrison, GOP operative and former campaign manager for AG Luther Strange, in her lawsuit claiming that my reports about her extramarital affair with Strange were false and defamatory.
Let's consider some of the stunts Baxley pulled in that one:
* In a pre-suit letter to me, Baxley alleged that I was engaging in "harassing communications" against his client -- I had sent Jessica Garrison two e-mails, seeking interviews or comments about her relationship with Luther Strange and associated issues. As director of the Republican Attorneys General Association (RAGA) and Strange's former campaign manager, Garrison had been quoted in the press many times. She unquestionably was a newsworthy figure, and likely a public figure under the law. My e-mails were designed to seek her responses to questions on issues of clear public concern. Harassing communications, under Alabama law, can only enter the picture if the communications is "intended to harass or alarm another person." My e-mails to Jessica Garrison didn't come close to reaching that threshold--but Bill Baxley is a con man. He tried to con me into thinking I was going to be investigated, or prosecuted, for a crime I had not remotely committed. Baxley is pulling a similar con game with the Hubbard jury, trying to provide cover for Riley and Hubbard, who engaged in an actual crime.
* In a second pre-suit letter, Baxley accused me of "stalking" his client -- This is another example of Baxley not letting the law get in the way of a dramatic threat. Baxley's second letter ended with this: "Cease stalking my client. Do not contact her again." Now, alleging that someone has engaged in stalking is a serious matter. Stalking is a felony that is punishable by up to 10 years in prison. It's a good idea to know the meaning of the word before throwing it around against someone else. Alabama's stalking statute reads, in part: "A person who intentionally and repeatedly follows or harasses another person and who makes a credible threat, either expressed or implied, with the intent to place that person in reasonable fear of death or serious bodily harm is guilty of the crime of stalking." I never followed or harassed Ms. Garrison, I never remotely threatened her, and I never did anything to cause her reasonable fear of death or serious bodily harm; I sent her two e-mails asking for interviews or comments on specific subjects. Again, Baxley was pulling a con, very much like the one he's pulling with the Hubbard jury now.
* Baxley conned Dothan blogger Rickey Stokes into writing a defamatory post about me -- Citing two unnamed sources, Stokes criticized my reporting on the Garrison story--calling it "questionable," and saying I had made up "something that wasn't true." A few days later, in a public forum, Stokes admitted that his source was Bill Baxley and that Baxley had not disclosed his representation of Jessica Garrison. Like we said, Baxley is a con artist--and Rikey Stokes fell for his tricks.
|Bob Riley, on the stand in Mike Hubbard trial|
As for the Hubbard trial, how illuminating was evidence presented while Bob Riley was on the stand? Consider this report from Bill Britt, of Alabama Political Reporter:
Emails entered into evidence during former Gov. Bob Riley’s testimony on day nine, was a matrix of deals that benefited both Riley and Hubbard. Lead Prosecutor, Matt Hart, in email after email revealed a disturbing pattern where Riley would ask something from Hubbard, receive it, and vice versa, in a quid pro quo style transaction.
Under the Ethics Laws that Hubbard and Riley championed and passed, just one such action would result in a felony charge. These two men repeated the scheme numerous times.
Want more specifics? Here they are:
In emails concerning the Paris Air Show, the prosecution displayed how Riley arranged for Hubbard and his daughter, Minda Riley Campbell, to meet his billionaire client, Singapore Industries, at their palatial chalet at the air show. He expressed to his client that Hubbard was there as Speaker of the House, and that he would be speaking on behalf of the State, to show appreciation for the company’s investment in Alabama. In return, emails show that Riley solicited partners at Singapore Industries to visit the Abbeville site, to aid Hubbard with his SEAGD business.
Other emails showed that Hubbard passed legislation that provided tax credits on shipping material for Singapore Industries in Mobile. He wrote to Riley saying his legal advisor, Jason Isbell, had placed the bill in the jacket, and that Riley’s client would be pleased. He even attached the language to the bill which Riley forwarded to the President of Singapore Industries. The bill Riley wanted for his client was passed by the State Legislature.
What became apparent, is that Riley and Hubbard were working in concert to aide each other financially. This was further evidenced by Hubbard’s weekly meetings with BCA’s chief lobbyist, Billy Canary.
If you feel the need to take an industrial-strength shower after reading that, join the crowd. This is politics at its most greed-driven, back-scratching low point--at its most criminal. But Bill Baxley will continue telling the public, and jurors, that this is all good fun among friends--making the crimes exempt from Alabama's ethics law.
Folks have fallen for Baxley's con games before. Will it happen again?