AG Marshall: Prosecution of corruption remains a priority after Matt Hart’s departure
On Friday’s episode of Alabama Public Television’s “Capitol Journal,” Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall downplayed the departure of now-former Deputy Attorney General Matt Hart.
Hart formerly led the AG’s Special Prosecutions Division and was perhaps best known for his prosecution of former Speaker of the House Mike Hubbard.
In the interim, Hart had become somewhat of a media darling, and Marshall’s critics had charged politics was a motivation in Hart’s resignation. Marshall dismissed those claims and touted Hart’s successor, Clark Morris.
“It’s a very important position and the change in leadership is not a reflection in the change in priorities,” Marshall said. “We appreciate the service that Matt Hart gave to the state. He submitted his resignation and we’ve moved forward. We’ve named Clark Morris, who you know is a 20-plus-year prosecutor and an expert in white-collar crime, and somebody who has been a leader in both the Northern District and Middle District U.S. Attorney’s office. We are very confident in what she’s doing, and we have a core group that’s working in that division that is continuing to work very hard.”
Marshall maintained investigating corruption continued to be a priority despite Hart’s departure.
“Capitol Journal” host Don Dailey went on to ask Marshall if Hart’s resignation was political, to which Marshall denied the charge and pointed to his prosecutorial record.
“It’s anything but,” he replied. “You look at the Mike Hubbard case, for example – my name is on the briefs. My name has been on the pleading as we continue to enforce that conviction in Lee County.”
Marshall, who easily won his general election contest last month, acknowledged there was a lot of focus on the Special Prosecutions Division, but also said there were a lot of other components to what the Alabama AG’s office does.
“I think what they do is maybe more known to people from time to time,” he said. “Let’s also understand there 150-plus dedicated employees in the AG’s office. We’re working a mission that is important for the state of Alabama.”
He went on to say Morris would continue with that Special Prosecutions Division’s focus and pointed to her track record as evidence.
“The priority is not shifting,” he said. “I absolutely challenge anybody to look at Clark Morris’ history and experience and see we made anything other than bringing somebody in that’s an outstanding leader. I look forward to being able to work with her as well as the fine people that work in that division. They are working hard today, as they are working hard tomorrow. We will continue to make sure we have the ability going forward to be that leader in these type of cases.”
The Alabama attorney general explained that Morris’ presence allowed his office to “cement” a partnership with federal prosecutors and federal law enforcement agencies.
“I really don’t care if somebody that has engaged in corruption is prosecuted in federal or state court,” he said. “What I worry about is making sure we have accountability. And so, we’ll work collaboratively with our federal partners. I think you’ll see a better job of that over the coming months and years in a way that we can make a difference in this area.”