1 year ago

Alabama Supreme Court upholds six, reverses five convictions against Hubbard

The Supreme Court of Alabama on Friday morning released a ruling on the remaining convictions against former House Speaker Mike Hubbard (R-Auburn).

Hubbard was originally convicted in 2016 on 12 of 23 ethics charges brought against him by the Alabama Attorney General’s Office.

One of those 12 convictions was reversed by the Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals in August 2018. The Supreme Court last year granted cert on the remaining 11 convictions, meaning they would hear his appeal.

In an opinion written by Chief Justice Tom Parker and released on Friday, the Supreme Court upheld six of those convictions, reversing the remaining five.

Counts 6, 10, 11, 12, 13 and 14 were upheld, while counts 16, 17, 18, 19 and 23 were reversed.

Although half of the original convictions have since been tossed, Hubbard still faces four years in prison, which was the original length of imprisonment imposed by the trial judge.

Hubbard has been free on an appeals bond since his 2016 conviction. That appeals bond could be revoked by the trial judge and Hubbard ordered to jail as soon as Friday.

However, there will be a major question over whether Hubbard should be sent to prison while the coronavirus pandemic is ongoing, as correctional facilities are especially vulnerable to becoming hotbeds of spreading the virus. Facilities are thus attempting to limit contact with the outside world, including the introduction of new inmates, when possible.

Hubbard also still faces 16 years of probation following his imprisonment, as well as a $170,000 fine and $3,000 owed in a victims compensation assessment.

The Supreme Court’s full ruling can be accessed here.

UPDATE 10:30 a.m.

Here is a brief breakdown of how the Supreme Court evaluated the 11 remaining convictions against Hubbard:

Counts 16-19 and 23

These are the five counts on which Hubbard was convicted for soliciting or receiving a thing of value from a principal of a lobbyist.

Several investors in Hubbard’s business (Craftmaster) were associated with businesses or organizations which hired lobbyists. The State contended that prevented Hubbard from taking an investment from them.

On counts 16-19, the Supreme Court reversed conviction, saying the State failed to prove Hubbard did not pay full value for the Craftmaster investments and that, therefore, the State failed to prove the offense of receiving a thing of value from a principal.

Count 23, as well as the Supreme Court’s opinion on this count, has perhaps the most precedential value in this case. The crux of the matter was determining whether Will Brooke, a member of a leading trade association’s board and executive committee at the time, was a principal under the ethics law because the association (BCA) employed a lobbyist.

The Supreme Court determined in this count that “the BCA and the individual members of the BCA board are not the same legal person; they exist distinct from one another.” Further, the court decided that the term principal is not broad enough to encompass a member of a board in the absence of evidence that the board member was involved with the employ of the entity’s lobbyist.

Moreover, the Supreme Court ruled that being a principal or not is determined by the person’s activity rather than position. This should be judged on a case-by-case basis moving forward.

Count 23 was reversed.

Counts 6 and 10

These counts were based on Hubbard’s contracts with two companies, APCI and Edgenuity. Because he received payments under consulting contracts with the companies, Hubbard was convicted of receiving a thing of value from both.

There is a compensation exclusion to this provision for circumstances when it is clear the thing of value is provided for reasons unrelated to public service.

However, the Supreme Court upheld the counts and said the State provided evidence that Hubbard’s contracts were indeed related to his position as speaker. It was referenced repeatedly by representatives of those companies that being speaker in Alabama would open doors for them, etc., even if they meant out of state. There is no distinction in the statute in that regard. Furthermore, Hubbard’s vote on a budget which had a provision helping APCI also violated the ethics act, per the court.

Count 11

This count related to Hubbard’s consulting for Capitol Cups and using his official position for personal gain.

Capitol Cups was in his district, but Hubbard also had a $10,000 per month contract with them. He emailed Publix asking to set up a meeting related to Capitol Cups, and at the bottom of the email he had Speaker of the House and such in his signature.

This count was upheld.

Count 14

Hubbard was convicted on this county of using public property for private benefit. He allegedly used his chief of staff’s time to help get a patent for a company controlled by Robert Abrams of CSP Technologies. Abrams also owned Capitol Cups, which was paying Hubbard.

The Supreme Court upheld this conviction.

Counts 12 and 13

Hubbard was convicted on both of these counts of representing for compensation a business entity before an executive department or agency.

He allegedly obtained meetings on behalf of SiO2 Medical Products, another Abrams-owned company, while receiving payment from Capitol Cups.

Hubbard further had his legislative assistant set up meetings for Abrams with then-Governor Robert Bentley and Commerce Secretary Greg Canfield.

The court upheld both convictions.

Justices Mendheim and Stewart concurred with the opinion of the court. Parker, the author, concurred specially. Justices Bolin, Wise and Bryan concurred in part and concurred in the result in part. Justice Sellers concurred in part and dissented in part. Justices Shaw and Mitchell recused themselves.

UPDATE 10:35 a.m.

Governor Kay Ivey released a statement on the ruling.

“Today’s ruling from the Alabama Supreme Court is the culmination of four years of deliberation, and I support and accept their findings. As an elected official, our first priority is to be above reproach and avoid even the appearance of misconduct and abuse of office,” she stated.

“I support seeking clarity on our state’s ethics laws to ensure those who want to abide by them may not be unfairly targeted. However, let me be abundantly clear, I do not support weakening a system that is meant to hold our elected officials accountable. The rule of law must be upheld,” Ivey continued.

The governor concluded, “Even more so on this Good Friday, my thoughts and prayers are on Mike Hubbard’s family and upon our state as we move on from this unfortunate part of Alabama’s history.”

UPDATE 1:45 p.m.

Attorney General Steve Marshall released a statement and commended the members of the attorney general’s office who have worked on the case for years.

“Today, the Alabama Supreme Court delivered its opinion in the case of former speaker of the Alabama House of Representatives, Mike Hubbard,” Marshall said. “The Court’s decision reflects what we have argued from the beginning: Mike Hubbard’s actions were corrupt and betrayed the public trust. It is well past time for Mike Hubbard to serve the time he has so richly earned.”

This is breaking news and will be updated.

Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

23 mins ago

7 Things: Obamacare is here to stay, Juneteenth made a holiday, Alabama wants prison lawsuit narrowed and more …

7. Bringing the least interesting person from the Biden/Harris team will get people vaccinated

  • In an effort to encourage more people in Alabama to take the coronavirus vaccine, second gentleman Doug Emhoff paid a visit to Birmingham at a coronavirus vaccination site.
  • During his visit, Emhoff said for Alabama to reach a vaccination rate of 70%, which is President Joe Biden’s national goal by July 4, “we have work to do.” Currently, almost 49% of adults in Alabama have been vaccinated; nationally, 65% of adults have been vaccinated.

6. Religious foster agency can continue to exclude same-sex couples

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  • In a 9-0 decision, the U.S. Supreme Court decided that Catholic Social Services could continue participating in the Philadelphia foster care program, despite them not allowing same-sex couples to foster through their program.
  • The main claim is that excluding the Catholic organization was a violation of First Amendment rights, but the city argued that the organization “lacks a constitutional right to demand that DHS offer it a contract that omits the same nondiscrimination requirement every other FFCA must follow when performing services for the City.”

5. Mo Brooks welcomes media attacks

  • U.S. Representative Mo Brooks (R-Huntsville) has already received attacks in the U.S. Senate race from fellow candidates and media outlets, but Brooks isn’t bothered by the attacks. Instead, he said that the attacks are “one of the best endorsements a Republican candidate can get.”
  • Brooks was specifically referring to attacks from AL.com and the Alabama Reporter. Brooks added that fellow candidate former Business Council of Alabama president Katie Britt is engaging in “fifth-grade tactics where you just start throwing names at other people, and when you do that, you’ve already lost the argument.” He went on to add that Britt “is a registered lobbyist … for the Business Council of Alabama whose number one agenda item has been to import cheap foreign labor.”

4. Air Force continues support of moving U.S. Space Command, another objection dismissed

  • Again, acting Secretary of the Air Force John Roth has said that the decision to move the U.S. Space Command Headquarters from Colorado to Huntsville, Alabama, was not a political decision but rather the decision “was the result of our strategic basing process.”
  • Roth was also very open about providing documents on how the decision was made. He also mentioned that they’re currently in the “environmental analysis” portion of the relocation process. When the question of the cost of a new building came up, Roth said, “We were going to have to build a building whether it was in Colorado Springs or whether it was in Huntsville.” He mentioned the much lower cost of building in Huntsville.

3. More prisons need to be built, but Alabama wants part of DOJ lawsuit dismissed

  • Lawyers for the Alabama Department of Corrections have asked that the portion of the Department of Justice lawsuit against the state prisons specifically claiming shortage of correctional officers and unsafe and unsanitary conditions be dismissed.
  • The Department of Corrections is already under orders from a federal court decision to increase the number of correctional officers at facilities, and lawyers have argued that the allegations about unsafe conditions are too vague and aren’t concerning a majority of the prisons.

2. Juneteenth is a state and federal holiday now

  • Just after it was confirmed as a federal holiday, Governor Kay Ivey announced that she made Juneteenth a state holiday for Alabama. This will allow most state employees to have the day off on Friday, except where it’s essential.
  • Juneteenth is held on June 19 to celebrate the day in 1865 when the last slaves in Galveston, Texas, were freed. Ivey intends to have the legislature consider making Juneteenth a state holiday, but she could also declare the day a holiday in future years, as well.

1. Supreme Court upholds Obamacare

  • The U.S. Supreme Court has upheld the decision that the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, is constitutional, but some Republican lawmakers are now arguing that the court ignored some of the main arguments over the constitutionality. The court’s decision was 7-2.
  • Eighteen states were involved in the case against the Affordable Care Act, including Texas. Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton said, “[T]he individual mandate – was unconstitutional when it was enacted and it is still unconstitutional. Yet, seven justices decided to avoid the question of the constitutionality by limiting its decision to a ruling on standing.”

1 hour ago

ALGOP chair John Wahl: AEA resurgence ‘a concern’; Reminds GOP candidates ‘not a good idea’ accept their campaign contributions

For the first time in nearly a decade, the Alabama Education Association (AEA) seemingly flexed its muscle at the end of the 2021 legislative session by successfully pushing through a two-year delay to the Literacy Act, which mandates children be able to read at a third grade level before proceeding to the fourth grade.

Gov. Kay Ivey vetoed the delay, but it left political watchers wondering if this was just the beginning of the AEA’s return to the forefront of Alabama politics.

During an appearance on FM Talk 106.5’s “The Jeff Poor Show” on Thursday, Alabama Republican Party chairman John Wahl said it was indeed a concern for the party.

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“[I]t’s funny you bring that up because at one point in the past, there was actually a resolution passed by the state party, I believe, that was saying Republican candidates should not take money from the AEA because of their influence and the concern they would have over direct policy,” he stated. “So, of course, that’s a concern. That type of influence from anybody pushing to regulate themselves is never — you don’t want a group regulating themselves. That’s not good for policy.”

While there was a resolution in place that pertained to AEA campaign contributions to Republican candidates, Wahl said it was not an outright ban but a “strong recommendation” not to accept their money.

“I need to go back and look at the resolution in-depth,” Wahl said. “But I believe it was a resolution, so it’s not a direct ban. There’s no teeth to it. But it was a very strong recommendation to candidates — that it is not a good idea to take that money.”

“[T]here were jokes about how the AEA controlled the state and had a vast amount of control over policy and what would happen with the Governor’s office, the state legislature,” he explained. “So much of that has gotten better since Republicans have taken control. But you’re right — we’re seeing a resurgence, at least of their involvement. Hopefully not their influence.”

@Jeff_Poor is a graduate of Auburn University and the University of South Alabama, the editor of Breitbart TV, a columnist for Mobile’s Lagniappe Weekly, and host of Mobile’s “The Jeff Poor Show” from 9 a.m.-12 p.m. on FM Talk 106.5.

2 hours ago

Ainsworth scores Tuberville endorsement

U.S. Senator Tommy Tuberville (R-AL) has thrown his support to Will Ainsworth as the first-term lieutenant governor ramps up his reelection bid. Ainsworth announced Tuberville’s backing in a release from his campaign on Thursday.

The former college football coach offered that his endorsement of Ainsworth was an easy play call for him.

“I’ve spent most of my life recruiting,” Tuberville explained. “When you run across leadership it stands out, and I’ve seen firsthand that’s especially true in the political arena. Alabama is a gritty, hardworking,
conservative state that puts God and family first.”

He continued, “I’m proud to endorse Will Ainsworth for Lt. Governor as the leader that reflects the work ethic and values of the great state of Alabama!”

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After announcing in front of 3,000 people during the first week in June that he would seek reelection, Ainsworth has now picked up the endorsement of the Alabama Forestry Association in addition to that of Tuberville.

Ainsworth welcomed the support from Alabama’s newest U.S. Senator.

“I am proud to have Senator Tuberville’s endorsement as I seek a second term as lieutenant governor to continue building a 21st century Alabama in which our people can earn a good living at a high-paying job and raise their families in safe, strong communities,” he remarked. “I’m focused on taking our Christian conservative values to Montgomery every day, ensuring we preserve and better the Alabama we all know and love for future generations to enjoy.”

Ainsworth’s first term has been marked by his heavy involvement in the state’s economic issues.

He has overseen the Alabama Small Business Commission, a panel tasked with recommending policies and legislation benefiting small businesses operating across the state.

During last year’s COVID-19 crisis, Ainsworth formed an emergency task force within the commission to focus on the reopening of Alabama’s economy. Most of the task force’s plan was implemented by the state during the reopening process.

Ainsworth has also served as chairman of the Aerospace States Association, a national group whose mission is to support and promote the interests of the aerospace industry in Alabama and across the nation.

Ainsworth has outlined that his focus moving forward would be to preserve Alabama values while improving opportunities for future generations.

“The main reason I’m running is for my kids, your kids, your grandkids’ future,” he stated. “It is a huge time commitment, but I want to say this: I want our kids, your kids, everybody in here to always be proud to call Alabama home. I don’t want our kids to have to move to Atlanta or Nashville or Austin or another state. I want them to be able to live right here in Alabama and have the same opportunities as any kids in the world. We’re going to do that.”

Tim Howe is an owner of Yellowhammer Multimedia

16 hours ago

Dale Jackson: Governor Kay Ivey may have some challengers after all

The conventional wisdom is that Governor Kay Ivey is an unbeatable juggernaut.

The idea was if Lt. Gov. Will Ainsworth was to challenge Ivey, he would have a shot yet still probably lose while no one else would even have a shot.

But recently, the rumor mill is out here running and churning out a couple of possibilities for candidates that are considering challenging Kay Ivey.

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Under intense questioning on WVNN’s “The Dale Jackson Show,” former State Rep. Ed Henry (R-Hartselle) offered up clues on the identities of these names that are being suggested.

The clues?

Candidate 1:

  • A candidate in the 2022 U.S. Senate race
  • She won’t get 10 points against U.S. Representative Mo Brooks (R-Huntsville)
  • Could get a Trump endorsement

Candidate 2:

  • A candidate who ran for the office before and had a stumble
  • “This is Alabama. We speak English.”

The clues lead us to two very distinct candidates.

Candidate 1 is the former ambassador to Slovenia under Trump, Lynda Blanchard.

Candidate 2 is a son of former Gov. Fob James and third-place 2010 GOP primary-finisher Tim James.

Could either of these individuals mount a challenge against Kay Ivey?

Maybe, but what is the argument that the state needs new leadership?

Gas tax?

Lockdown?

Mask mandate?

Soon to be new prisons?

Do these issues motivate people?

Altogether, it may move the needle, but Governor Ivey is a well-known and well-liked politician overseeing a recovering economy on the heels of a global pandemic.

Those in the political world will say she isn’t being seen enough, but that is an inside baseball complaint.

Neither of these individuals have a groundswell of support from people clamoring to enter the fray, but if Alabamians are given another choice for governor, maybe it will turn into a race that ends up surprisingly competitive.

Listen:

Dale Jackson is a contributing writer to Yellowhammer News and hosts a talk show from 7-11 AM weekdays on WVNN and on Talk 99.5 from 10AM to noon.

19 hours ago

Real estate firm Audubon makes $32.7 million investment in Alabama multifamily property

ATLANTA – Audubon, an Atlanta-based real estate firm specializing in the acquisition, development and management of multifamily properties, announced it has closed on the purchase of Parks at Wakefield & Wellington, its first acquisition in Alabama. The total cost of the transaction was $32.7 million, or $80,147 per unit. Audubon’s portfolio of owned-and-operated multifamily assets now includes 6,200 units in 22 properties across five states.

The newest property, located just outside Birmingham in Hoover, Alabama, has been renamed Cadence at Bluff Park. The 408-unit property was originally built in 1973 and covers just under 24 acres, creating an open and accessible garden-style community within the Bluff Park neighborhood. The location also offers a plethora of walkable restaurant and retail destinations, including an adjacent shopping center undergoing a $10 million renovation.

“The outskirts of Birmingham have proven to be a hot spot for those who want to be near a metro area, but prefer to live outside of the hustle and bustle of the city itself,” said Myles Cunningham, chief investment officer for Audubon. “We relished the opportunity to further grow our footprint into Alabama and continue bolstering our portfolio across the Southeast.”

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Specializing in full-scale overhauls, Audubon is planning significant upgrades throughout Cadence at Bluff Park. The changes will be evident for those passing through and around the community, with updated exteriors on all buildings, fresh landscaping, a conversion of the tennis courts into a grilling area and dog park, the installation of a new playground, the transformation of the pool to a splash park for kids, and improvements to the parking lot and streets within the complex.

The same level of attention will be paid to interior upgrades, with Class-A finishes planned for every unit. Additionally, the leasing office and fitness center will be renovated and a new amenity building will be constructed.

“We know these are ambitious plans, but it was important to us to show existing and future residents we are committed to making Cadence at Bluff Park one of the premier multifamily communities in Birmingham,” added Cunningham.

The $14.7 million capital improvement program will begin immediately and is expected to be completed within the next two years.

Audubon is an Atlanta-based firm specializing in the acquisition and management of multifamily properties throughout the Southeastern region of the United States. With a senior staff that has collectively acquired, managed and renovated more than 50,000 apartment units, Audubon has a wide range of experience and expertise in repositioning multifamily assets. For more information, please visit http://www.acmapts.com.