Wednesday, June 22, 2016

What do the Mike Hubbard convictions mean? If Bob Riley, Bill Canary, and other kingpins of corruption don't go down, it probably won't mean much

Bob Riley, on the stand at Mike Hubbard trial
The conviction of former Alabama House Speaker Mike Hubbard might seem like a huge first step toward cleaning up corruption in a Deep South state. But published reports indicate Hubbard is a relatively small fish in the toxic sewer of Alabama politics. In fact, these reports suggest, if the true kingpins of corruption don't go down -- we're talking about Bob Riley, Bill Canary, and their associates -- the Hubbard conviction might not mean a whole lot.

The first report comes from former lobbyist Jarrod Massey, who spent more than three years in prison after pleading guilty in the Alabama bingo trial -- which produced zero guilty verdicts. After Hubbard was found guilty on 12 of 23 counts on June 10, Massey wrote two Facebook posts (see here and here) that showed empathy for Hubbard and his family -- and disgust at a system that has been rigged by figures who are far more powerful (and dangerous) than Hubbard.

This is from Massey, the voice of experience:

First, politicos (especially elected officials) largely suffer from a false sense of entitlement which is fueled to a great degree by people catering to them over an extended period of time. . . . Over time this greatly clouds the somewhat rationale thinking of many politicos. Even though Mike Hubbard heard guilty verdicts yesterday and is dealing with that reality as I write this, his thinking is still likely very fouled up. The other thing is many successful people are very optimistic, someone like Mike is likely still thinking of a better outcome and holding on to that which is likely clouding his judgement even now in the face of many years in a state prison facility.

What should Hubbard do now? Massey has ideas:

Mike should think long and hard about having his attorneys approach the government and see if he can work out an arrangement to come clean and take ownership of his actions at sentencing without the fear of a perjury charge. Mike, if you truly are innocent absolutely fight with your last breath and continue to state your innocence...BUT, if not, he should outright tell the Judge he has no plans to appeal the conviction and that he plans to accept his sentence whatever it may be (within the law and reason of course).

Mike should realize he faces the likelihood of other charges coming his way and as pressure will certainly be put on others to tell what they know about Mike that is a very real possibility. You've got to be pretty thick-headed to have spent the time listening to the testimony you did and not connect a few dots of what is to come for those who interacted with you in the matters brought up at trial alone. You AND YOUR FAMILY are not out of the fire. Right now those you may think of as friends mostly are not your friends. . . .

This is not about Mike "ratting" out others but rather facing the reality of the situation he is in, which he alone appears to have created . . . with a long list of co-conspirators it would pretty solidly appear. Yes, the process is really fouled up but that is not going to change any time soon. We often hear folks talking about keeping your mouth quiet and not implicating others and so forth....take your medicine per se (I've said it many times in the past). It is far from that simple. Once you are in the spot Mike is a lot of this is not even in your hands.

Massey then turns his attention to former governor Bob Riley--and the future of Alabama:

No question, I am not a fan of any sort of Mike Hubbard, nor Bob Riley. This has nothing to do about my previous guilt or innocence. I was guilty and deserved to go to prison. However, I know all too well the extent of time and energy both these men devoted to ensuring my downfall and that of others who were later proven innocent . . . and I know many of the tactics they used to not only ensure they snared me and others, but I know very well who benefited financially and otherwise from my fall . . . my top clients found their way overnight . . . in fact, they were headed in another direction before I was even indicted.....mostly into the firm of Hubbard's and Riley's closest lobbying and consulting ally at the time. It will not be by me, but one day a book or some true telling of the period between 2008-2010/2012 will come about. As with most things like this it will be years later when people are more secure in their stages of life. Much of Alabama changed in 2010 with Riley and Hubbard's prevention of a measure coming before the people of Alabama that would have allowed the people of Alabama to decide an issue. THERE WAS SO MUCH MORE THAN JUST BINGO occurring in 2010! It was not so much about the issue of electronic bingo but more so about how the door was about to be opened to a totally new source of political influence. Yes, I realize I am being a bit cryptic here, but this is all I am really comfortable saying at this point in my own effort to rebuild my life. . . .

Then, Massey gets to the heart of the matter -- Alabama will continue to be a cesspool as long as Riley Inc. remains intact:

[The Hubbard conviction] was a win for justice in our state. However, it will only be a token win unless Bob Riley is required to go before a similar process and have a jury of peers review his dealings in similar detail and whereby Riley has to decide whether to tell the truth or risk perjury himself. Motorcycle crash.....unbelievable that worked? If I had tried that one just imagine....they would have had the U.S. Marshalls hauling my supposedly mangled body to the nearest video camera for questioning.

Other than perhaps child molesters and animal abusers, I despise hypocrites most of all. . . . There are more rocks to turn over before enough have been turned over to find all the Hubbard and Riley accomplices. This said, those who typically go after Riley in particular don't usually fare well. It will take strong men of character to do just that. I am prayerful we have some who have the stomach and strength of character for the work.

The second report comes from Joe Miller, a faculty member at Columbus State University who wrote a five-part series on Alabama scandals for The New Republic. Miller's last installment is titled "Beyond Mike Hubbard: How Deep Does Corruption in Alabama Go?" In it, the author points a finger directly at Bill Canary, portraying him as a cowardly and slippery character who is ethically challenged to his core. Writes Miller:

Midway through former Alabama Speaker Mike Hubbard’s corruption trial, the state’s most powerful man was hiding in an empty corridor of the Lee County courthouse. Another long day of courtroom drama had come and gone, and the TV news crews had set up their cameras outside the main entrance to catch the defendant and his co-stars as they emerged. But tucked into a nook that used to house public phones stood Billy Canary, a former White House staffer for George H.W. Bush, a longtime friend of Karl Rove, and president and CEO of the mighty Business Council of Alabama (BCA). “I want to wait until the media is gone,” he said to his lawyer.

Bill Canary (right) and prosecutor Matt Hart
 Canary was named in one of the 23 felony counts against Hubbard, of which the former speaker was found guilty of twelve on June 10. The charge alleged that Canary, a registered lobbyist, had given Hubbard a thing of value, which according to Alabama law is illegal for both the receiver and the giver—a law that Hubbard spearheaded in his first move as speaker in 2010. In other words, though it was Hubbard who would ultimately stand up for the verdict, he wasn’t the only one on trial. With the grand jury still empaneled in Lee County, all of the people named in Hubbard’s indictments—nationally connected political operatives like Canary, and some of Alabama’s wealthiest men—are at risk of prosecution.

Canary, it seems, managed to neatly sidestep most of the fallout from the Hubbard trial -- as did Bob Riley. How long will their good fortune last? Writes Miller:

The members of the jury were in deliberations for a little less than seven hours. Their 12 guilty verdicts were for three different schemes: voting on legislation benefiting American Pharmacies Cooperative, Inc., a registered principal with which Hubbard had a consulting contract; using state resources to do work for, and lobbying state officials on behalf of, Bobby Abrams, owner of CV Holdings, who was paying the speaker $10,000 a month; and receiving contracts and investments from principals, including Canary’s boss, Will Brooke, and Hubbard’s longtime friend, Jimmy Rane.

As for Canary—who was instrumental in the schemes that took the speaker down and now threaten to ensnare four top leaders in the very business community for which the BCA advocates—the charge in which he was named came back not guilty. (Same for former Governor Riley.)

It was friendship and stinginess that came through for Alabama’s most powerful man. Unlike Rane and Brooke, Canary never gave Hubbard anything of real value. Under cross-examination, he said of the former speaker, “I love him like a brother.” The two pals had even gone to a ZZ Top concert together, Canary testified, adding sheepishly: “I’m embarrassed to admit that.”

Why would Canary be embarrassed to attend a ZZ Top concert? The concert undoubtedly was more wholesome than many of Canary's other activities. Writes Miller:

Now Canary, who didn’t have the courage to face the cameras after his day in court, is free to craft the BCA’s annual “Blueprint for Success,” and continue lobbying for the pro-business agenda that has made Alabama one of the worst-run states in the union. And his “brother” is out on $160,000 bond, awaiting his sentencing hearing scheduled for July 8.

This series began with a question: “Is Mike Hubbard the most corrupt politician in America?”

Three weeks of trial and twelve guilty verdicts later, the answer is no.

He’s not even the most corrupt figure in the state.


Anonymous said...

Excellent post, LS. Alabamians need to keep a close watch on this.

Anonymous said...

Would love to know more about this "Canary in a coal mine" guy. Is he from Bama? How did he get ties to the state? I did Google and found out past positions he's had, but nothing that I see that got him in this quagmire called politics in Alabama. Any insight or know where I can find out more?

Great reporting, by the way.

Anonymous said...

Great points by Jarrod Massey and Joe Miller. They've done a real public service.

legalschnauzer said...

Canary is from New York, Long Island, I believe. He was CEO of American Trucking Association before becoming head of Business Council of Alabama. He was special assistant to the president in George H.W. Bush admin. Canary's wife was U.S. attorney during Don Siegelman trial. Two of Canary's allies are Karl Rove and Tom Donohue, head of U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Here is Canary's official bio from BCA Web site:

Anonymous said...

Just look at the arrogance dripping off Riley's face in that photo. It looks like he finds something amusing about a politial-corruption case, and he can't believe he's being inconvenienced by being there. What a POS.

MoreOrLes said...

Hubbard is a fool if he doesn't fess up and talk about the dirt he has on others. Jerrod Massey's advice is on target. Hubbard needs to think about his family and himself. These other folks aren't his friends, and they probably never were.

Anonymous said...

Riley is the head of the snake

Anonymous said...

Mike is small fish in this pond. I would rather see him rat out the bigger fish.

Anonymous said...

Great post, LS. Agree wholeheartedly with @1:35 pm. And IMHO it's not just Alabamians that need to be watching and listening, it's all citizens across the country. Here in DC over the past few years, we've had a few politicos booted out of office and jailed, while the most egregious of folks still engaged in conflicts-of-interest and pay-to-play is running unopposed again.

Anonymous said...


Riley wishes he was head of the snake. He's far from it. The closest thing to head of the snake in this bunch mentioned is Bill Canary. He answers to ATL and the Bush's. The head of the snake feels they are too good for Alabama so they send their flunkies to screw it up. The plus side is that the head of the snake really couldnt care less about Hubbard, Riley and Canary. They will start fresh when this passes.

Anonymous said...

I cant help but wonder if they all still keep in touch with Jack A.

legalschnauzer said...

Thanks for your comment, @4:24. Would like to clear up one point of confusion. You state that Canary answers to "ATL and the Bushes." When I see "ATL" I usually think of Atlanta. But that doesn't seem to fit here. Is this a person you are speaking of? It might be obvious to others, but my brain seems to be in fried mode.

Anonymous said...

Governor Don Siegelman has best described Alabama's political situations as having been paramount to Watergate 1973.
The interest in Bill Canary not only tied to Karl Rove, pre-Siegelman governorship, but likewise to Jeff Sessions and Bill Pryor. Fox News continues to provide day in day out media cover from their being exposed in late 1990s and early 2000s Alabama politics, Fox refuses all efforts to make known political facts involving their corruptions. Sessions as Alabama Attorney General secretly bringing out of Mobile FBI agents to do rouge investigations of Jim Folsom, Jr., costing tax payers thousands, abruptly ending investigation about time of becoming Senator, Pryor taking his place, all during he time Rove and Canary was engaged in contributing to Pryor's efforts to persecute Siegelman, eventually with the appointment of Canary's wife as U.S. Attorney; after Siegelman couple of years or so before had opposed Pryor and Canary involving the Tobacco Industry Settlement, even other states AGs complained about Pryor's positions, as if he was more for big business, than the citizens. Sessions and Pryor was both found out about by Time Magazine Investigative Reporter that they too have thousands of dollars in contributions not reported, but justice dept only interested in getting Siegelman. Rove and Sessions got Pryor his recess appointment for a federal judgeship; but if one takes time to read their transcript, knowing their history, having given before the Senate Judicary Committee under oath, it was perjury, they lied. Pryor covered up about the blackmail and black books tied to all of them involving conspiracies, complicities, cover ups, corruptions, obstruction of justice, and R.I.C.O.
Jarrod Massey is more likely right than not when it comes to eventually the sun will shine in, but not limited to just those years he makes reference to.
President Nixon's administration was brought down result of a door at The Watergate being left ajar, found by a night watchman; what ominous cloud gathering with some insignificant freak act of weather that's due to change the entire local, state, and federal government administration's functions within State of Alabama?

Anonymous said...

This is 4:24. LS, I worry about anything that could come your way by my naming names publicly on your site. So lets just call them the mob. Dixie, Jewish, Russian, the 1%....Take your pick.

Anonymous said...

I cant help but wonder what will happen when papa bush dies. I picture it being like when Dorothy's house fell on the wicked witch of the west and US citizens are the munchkins. Ding dong.

Otherwise, why hasnt all this mess been handled long ago?

Anonymous said...

It would be interesting to compare Alabama's (or any other state's) rankings and the amount of influence industry has had on the legislative processes. For instance: education, poverty levels, income levels, growth, crime, etc. If the BCA meets with the House Speaker once a week, what other business entities bend powerful state legislative ears and how do the people of the state benefit from these meetings?

Anonymous said...

@4:24 & 4:39, your comment makes me thing of Erik Davis Harp again-scary all around

Anonymous said...

In part maybe because those that can remember when there existed the economic engine of the middle class; its morals, character, its children going to school saying prayers, pledge of allegiance to nation's flag, respect for parents, teachers, and neighborhoods; have been so greatly diminished that that middle class tax base and nation's conscious has been absorbed, possibility of never being again. People live in fear, afraid to speak out; the computer age can destroy an individual overnite without their ever knowing the who or why, left to guess, "why hasn't this mess been handled long ago?"; Alabamians in reality have to only look at those being re-elected re-elected re-elected re-elected; "Mirror mirror on the wall, at whose fault allowed government corruptions made worst of all? Look how long Siegelman was wrongfully imprisoned, and Alabamians are still babbling about the injustices, when there are those knowing that could stand and make a difference having freed him already............they must have believed giving their right hands to oaths of office entrusting them to the people's government was just an exercise in a waste of time. Since 2002 apparently so! Many men and women have paid with last full measures giving ultimate sacrafices that people within this state may have a good government, and the best this nation out of millions has to offer the people for president this election year is Clinton and Trump, how sad.

e.a.f. said...

if they meet for free its not too bad, but in British Columbia, Canada, big business gets to meet with the premier (governor) and they have to pay $10K to $20K for it and she gets to skim part of the take up to $50K a year. So don't feel too bad about the goings on in Alabama, there are worse areas in North America.

Anonymous said...

@LS: Whatever happened to the problems with the Canary marriage--something you profiled in fall 2011?
Did they decide that splitting would be too expensive?

legalschnauzer said...

That's a good question, @5:27, but I don't have a good answer. There definitely was trouble in paradise at one point, but perhaps they patched it up. It's possible they decided splitting was too expensive, or too dangerous, considering all the dirt they must have on each other. Come to think of it, I don't know for sure that they are still together, although I assume they haven't divorced, at least not in Alabama. Possible long-term separation? We've had so many other stories coming from various directions, that I haven't kept track on that one. Do you think they are still married?

Anonymous said...

What is ATL?

Anonymous said...

LS @6:08pm -- While digging around on the Canarys, I came across a number of pieces on the (RSA) Retirement Systems of Alabama where Leura Canary is now chief counsel. Looks like there might be an epic conflict building amongst all the nest-featherers benefiting from public subsidy and the corporate overlords (like the Kochs, Soroses, etc.) running the show.