5 years ago

Alabama House speaker Mike Hubbard convicted

Alabama House Speaker Mike Hubbard (R-Auburn)
Alabama House Speaker Mike Hubbard (R-Auburn)

OPELIKA, Ala. — Alabama House Speaker Mike Hubbard (R-Auburn) was convicted of 12 of 23 charges by a Lee County Jury in Opelika on Friday night. The jury deliberated for seven hours on various charges to decide if Hubbard used his office for personal gain.

The prosecution alleged Hubbard made millions of dollars in various schemes designed to leverage the power of his office to enrich himself, an argument that persuaded the jury.

The charges he was convicted of are as follows:

• Voting on legislation with a conflict of interest that would benefit American Pharmacy Cooperative Inc., a consulting client.
• Receiving money from a principal, American Pharmacy Cooperative Inc., through a consulting contract.
• Receiving money from a principal, Edgenuity, through a consulting contract.
• Using office for personal gain through a consulting contract with Capitol Cups, a business owned by Robert Abrams.
• Lobbying the state Department of Commerce for consulting client Robert Abrams.
• Lobbying the governor’s office for consulting client Robert Abrams.
• Using state personnel to benefit consulting client Robert Abrams.
• Soliciting and receiving money from a principal, former Business Council of Alabama Chairman Will Brooke, a $150,000 investment in Craftmaster Printers.
• Soliciting and receiving money from a principal, James Holbrook/Sterne Agee, a $150,000 investment in Craftmaster Printers.
• Soliciting and receiving money from a principal, Great Southern Wood President Jimmy Rane, a $150,000 investment in Craftmaster Printers.
• Soliciting and receiving money from a principal, Great Southern Wood President Jimmy Rane, a $150,000 investment in Craftmaster Printers.
• Soliciting and receiving a thing of value from a principal, former BCA Chairman Will Brooke, help obtaining clients for Auburn Network and financial advice for Craftmaster Printers.

“This is a good day for the rule of law in our state,” said Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange. “This kind of result would never have been achieved had our office not put together the finest public corruption unit in the country. I’m very proud of their work. This should send a clear message that in Alabama we hold public officials accountable for their actions.”

With his conviction, Hubbard is immediately removed from office, per state law.

Several other key figures in the state have weighed in on the conviction.

“The verdict reached by 12 Lee County jurors brings finality to a lengthy legal process that has impacted our state government and public trust,” Lt. Gov. Kay Ivey (R) said in a statement. “I pray that Mike, his wife Susan, and their sons will be strengthened and supported through the uncertainties of this difficult time. I respect the jury’s hard work and accept their findings. It is not easy to sit in judgment and these jurors did their duty as citizens of Alabama.

“This is a dark day for Alabama. Mike Hubbard led Republicans to a supermajority on a platform of cleaning up corruption in Montgomery. But instead of cleaning up corruption, Mike Hubbard and the Republican leadership in all three branches of our government have embraced corruption,” House Minority Leader Craig Ford (D-Gadsden) said. “They have forgotten they are supposed to serve the people, and not the other way around.”

Hubbard faces a maximum penalty of two to twenty years imprisonment and fines of up to $30,000.00 for each count, all of which are Class B Felonies. He will be sentenced on July 8.

(H/T Al.com)

13 mins ago

What Alabamians need to know about the latest activity on Goat Hill — March 2, 2021

MONTGOMERY — The Alabama Legislature on Tuesday will convene for the 10th day of its 2021 regular session.

There is also one committee meeting scheduled for the day, as well as one subcommittee meeting.

Read about what occurred last Thursday on the ninth legislative day here.

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Looking ahead

The Alabama Senate will gavel in at 2:00 p.m. on Tuesday.

This will come after the Senate Governmental Affairs Committee meets at 1:00 p.m. The committee’s agenda includes four election-related bills; especially of note, SB 235 sponsored by Sen. Dan Roberts (R-Mountain Brook) would ban curbside voting in Alabama. Curbside voting is not provided for in Alabama law, however it is also not explicitly barred at this time.

The committee is further scheduled to take up SB 259 by Sen. Will Barfoot (R-Pike Road) that would allow the legislature to call itself into a special session. The provisions of the bill would require a joint proclamation by the Senate pro tem and the House speaker to call a special session; a resolution carrying the support of 2/3 of each chamber would then have to be adopted before business could be taken up in such a special session. The bill was officially introduced last week on the first legislative day following Governor Kay Ivey’s “herd of turtles” remarks. Between Barfoot and 16 cosponsors, the bill already has the support of an effective majority of the Senate, which only has a maximum of 32 members in attendance so far this session. SB 259 is a companion bill to Rep. Becky Nordgren’s (R-Gadsden) HB 21, which was prefiled back in October. Her bill is set to be considered in a House committee on Wednesday.

The House will convene at 1:00 p.m. on Tuesday. Before that, the County and Municipal Government Committee’s Government Service Subcommittee will meet at 11:00 a.m. On that docket is SB 107 by Sen. Chris Elliot (R-Daphne).

The lower chamber’s floor action is set to focus on a 16-bill special order calendar, which can be viewed here.

Included on that calendar is Rep. Jamie Kiel’s (R-Russellville) HB 103, which would effectively erase the distinction between “essential” and “non-essential” businesses during a pandemic or other declared emergency.

Also slated for consideration is Rep. Scott Stadthagen’s (R-Hartselle) HB 391; this bill would mandate that public school students can only compete in athletic competitions aligning with the gender on their birth certificates.

Another notable bill on the House special order calendar is Rep. Paul Lee’s (R-Dothan) HB 249. This legislation would cap a health insurance beneficiary’s cost-sharing or co-pay for an insulin drug prescription at $100 per 30-day supply.

Observers may also be interested to know that Rep. Jeremy Gray’s (D-Opelika) HB 246 is on the calendar; this is the bill that would allow yoga to be offered in public K-12 schools.

Finally, Rep. Mike Jones (R-Andalusia) HB 392 is set to be considered. This bill would create a formal layer of legislative oversight — and additional transparency — on executive branch contracts, leases and agreements exceeding $10 million.

“It is important that we maintain a system of checks and balances, and the Legislature must be able to access important information about agreements that obligate the General Fund to substantial expenditures,” Jones said in a Monday statement. “This bill provides an additional layer of oversight on large executive branch agreements in a manner that is fair, transparent, and, most of all, constitutional.”

Speaker of the House Mac McCutcheon (R-Monrovia) stated that he supports the bill.

“Whenever an administration enters into agreements involving millions of taxpayer dollars, the Legislature deserves to have its questions answered and any concerns addressed,” McCutcheon said. “Rep. Jones’s legislation offers a commonsense method of protecting taxpayers and reassuring lawmakers when large sums of dollars are being obligated.”

While it could pertain to items similar to Governor Ivey’s prison plan in the future, the legislation would not be retroactive and would not apply to current contracts, leases and other obligations.

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

43 mins ago

LISTEN: Actor Robert Ri’chard previews upcoming faith-based movie ‘My Brother’s Keeper’

Robert Ri’chard grew up in South Central Los Angeles in a very challenging environment. He had to make disciplined choices at an early age that would help determine his future and get him to where he is today.

Robert, an actor, entertainer, entrepreneur and mentor, lives with purpose every day.

In this episode, we discuss the choices we all need to make each day to become who God calls us to be. We also talk about the upcoming movie he c0-stars in which will be coming out this month, “My Brother’s Keeper.” The movie deals with the struggles of PTSD and how God can help people overcome it. TC Stallings stars as a veteran returning from war and trying to reestablish a life back home. Robert plays his best friend, Donnie, and the two struggle to maintain their relationship after division arises between the two of them. The film also features Keisha Knight Pulliam and Joey Lawrence.

This is a great faith-based movie that is good for the whole family. Check local listings and online for viewing options starting March 19.

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13 hours ago

William Bell officially launches campaign to retake Birmingham mayor’s office

Former Birmingham Mayor William Bell officially launched on Monday his campaign to take back the office he held from 2010 through 2017.

Bell, 71, was prevented from earning a third term in office when Randall Woodfin, then-president of the Birmingham City School Board, beat him at the ballot box in 2017.

In his nearly three-minute video announcement released Monday, Bell listed several serious problems he felt Birmingham was facing, including violence in neighborhoods and poorly managed finances.

“Clearly, we need an experienced hand to get us back on track,” Bell intones.

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Though he never mentions Woodfin by name, Bell does not shy away from criticizing the man who ousted him in 2017.

“Four years of ineptitude and mismanagement has our city hurting and adrift,” Bell says in the video.

“The stakes are just too high for the current mayor to learn on the job. He is in over his head, and it shows,” continues Bell.

The announcement video includes images of Bell shaking hands with former President Barack Obama and President Joe Biden, two popular figures within the Democratic Party to which Bell belongs.

Other figures who have previously entered the Birmingham mayor’s race include Jefferson County Commissioner Lashunda Scales and businessman Chris Woods.

Woodfin has built a sizeable fundraising advantage over the three candidates seeking to unseat him, reporting over $1,000,000 cash on hand in his 2020 year-end finance report.

Bell’s campaign website, with information on his priorities for the city, can be accessed here.

Magic City residents head to the polls on Tuesday, August 24.

Henry Thornton is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can contact him by email: henry@yellowhammernews.com or on Twitter @HenryThornton95.

13 hours ago

Watch: U.S. Senator Tommy Tuberville delivers maiden floor speech

U.S. Senator Tommy Tuberville (R-AL) on Monday delivered his maiden speech on the floor of the United States Senate.

In his remarks, which spanned more than seven minutes, the freshman senator thanked the people of Alabama for sending him to Washington, D.C., spoke about his background as an educator and mentor, and emphasized that he looks forward to serving as Alabama’s voice as the people’s senator.

“In the end, I asked the people of Alabama to trust me with the responsibility of representing them here in Washington,” he said. “And they did. It’s humbling. It’s an opportunity to serve my country that I respect, cherish and will always honor. My staff and I will work hard every day to live up to that trust.”

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Continuing his emphasis on and passion for education, Tuberville subsequently remarked, “One thing I’ve learned, is that education is the key to freedom — freedom to live the life you want. I’ve seen firsthand how education can give you a leg up and a way out. It’s a way to achieve the American Dream. When we empower our young people with a quality education, we give them the gift of an opportunity — the greatest gift our country can give our citizens. And what I’ve found as a coach is that when people are given an opportunity to better themselves, they usually take it.”

He also outlined the following about education:

I found that we are failing our young people by not providing the quality education they deserve. It is not about money. It is about people. It is about what we value and what we each. Improving education in this country should be one of, if not the, top priorities we have. That is why I am proud to be a new member of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee.

On the HELP committee, we need to work together – as a team – to do three things: first, we need to recognize that parents and teachers know how to best educate our young people in their community because we’re all different… We do not need a one-size-fits all education curriculum. What works in San Francisco will not necessarily work in Scottsboro, Alabama.

Second, we should recognize that education takes many forms. Not every student in America needs to go to a four-year college or university. To ensure our country remains competitive in the 21st century, we need to promote STEM education to those students who have an interest in math and science. But, to remain strong, this country also needs welders, plumbers, nurses, equipment operators, electricians, and craftsmen. These jobs have excellent pay and great futures.

If the Democrats want to pass a massive infrastructure bill, they need to first ask: ‘who’s going to build it?’ That’s why I’ll be looking for any opportunity to support career technical programs that prepare a skilled workforce.

And number three: we’ve got to start teaching our young people moral values again. That starts with putting God and prayer back in schools.

Watch Tuberville’s entire maiden floor speech here or below:

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

14 hours ago

Newly approved Johnson & Johnson vaccine set to accelerate Alabama’s vaccination process

Federal regulators in recent days approved a third vaccine product for use by the public, a decision that is set to enhance Alabama’s vaccination efforts.

Developed by the pharmaceutical arm of Johnson & Johnson (J&J), the newly approved vaccine is administered in a single dose. The other two approved products, from Pfizer and Moderna, require two doses given weeks apart.

The Alabama Department of Public Health (ADPH) announced Monday that 40,100 doses of the new vaccine product will be shipped to the Yellowhammer State this week.

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The Johnson & Johnson vaccine product was 100% effective at preventing death from COVID-19 in a worldwide clinical study that enrolled 43,783 participants, more than a third of whom were over age 60.

A recipient of the J&J vaccine is considered vaccinated 28 days after receiving the shot with the product.

“This is a fantastic vaccine, it works really well after one shot,” said Paul Goepfert, M.D., professor of medicine at UAB and director of the Alabama Vaccine Research Clinic, during a media briefing on Monday. “I would highly recommend you take it and not wait.”

In terms of preventing moderate and severe cases of COVID-19, the most commonly reported vaccine metric, the Johnson & Johnson product was 66% effective worldwide and 72% effective in the United States. The same rate for Pfizer and Moderna’s vaccine products is around 94%. All three products have been 100% effective at preventing hospitalization from the coronavirus.

An additional benefit of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine is that it can last for three months in a refrigerator, making it able to be stored virtually everywhere in the United States. Moderna’s product requires a freezer and Pfizer’s requires ultra-cold storage that is usually only available at hospitals.

ADPH said the 40,100 doses of the J&J product will be integrated into the state’s previously existing allocation process. Dr. Scott Harris, Alabama’s State Health Officer, urged the public last week to take whatever vaccine product was being offered at their local clinics.

Alabama has administered over 100,000 doses of vaccine product every seven days since the week ending January 23, and that rate has risen to more than 130,000 doses in each of the last three weeks.

ADPH says 617,768 Alabamians have gotten a dose of the vaccines, which is equivalent to 12.6% of the state’s total population.

(ADPH/Screenshot)

According to ADPH, Alabama will receive 140,000 first doses of vaccine product this week when incorporating the J&J product.

Johnson & Johnson said in a press release that it will deliver 100 million doses of its vaccine to the United States in the first half of 2021.

ADPH said the 40,100 doses Alabama is getting this week is a one-time allocation, and the department could not provide an estimate for what the state could expect each week going forward. Alabama had been averaging between 90,000 and 100,000 first doses of the Pfizer and Moderna products in recent weeks.

Those eligible to be vaccinated in Alabama are anyone age 65 and over, health care workers, first responders, and several categories of front-line workers.

Alabamians can check their eligibility and see if their local county health office has a vaccination appointment available here.

The portal to book a vaccine appointment at participating Walmarts is available here,

The equivalent program at Sam’s Club stores can be found here.

CVS’s coronavirus vaccine portal, which has several participating stores in Alabama, can be found here.

A complete list of vaccine providers in Alabama can be found at this page, once a user navigates to the “vaccine providers” tab at the bottom.

Henry Thornton is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can contact him by email: henry@yellowhammernews.com or on Twitter @HenryThornton95.