Last week, a filing from the Alabama Attorney General’s office, which had surfaced in media reports, contended that former Alabama House Speaker Mike Hubbard lacked remorse for his wrongdoing, despite claiming otherwise in a letter to Lee County Circuit Judge Jacob Walker arguing for an early release.
The filing quoted excerpts from Hubbard’s prison communications to bolster its claims. However, the reemergence of the Hubbard saga has led State Rep. Mike Ball (R-Madison) to revisit his efforts to retool Alabama’s ethics laws.
During an appearance on Huntsville radio WVNN’s “The Dale Jackson Show” on Wednesday, Ball said opponents of efforts to add clarity to the ethics laws were “protecting the status quo.”
“They are protecting the status quo,” he said. “There’s power, unchecked power that prosecutors have to go after public officials. That’s not to say some don’t abuse the powers of their office. But I don’t know — for the time being, I’ve just given up. I think after this session is over, I’ll try to spell out what happened, let the public know, and maybe a future legislature can address it. But the fact is it is never going to be able to be properly addressed as long as information is suppressed and people don’t understand the whole story, and people don’t understand governance and how it works. You know, there’s just a woeful lack of understanding of our political process and the investigating process. And I don’t see it getting any better. As a matter of fact, the current political environment just seems to make it worse. That’s why I’m getting out.”
Ball, who is not seeking reelection in 2022, said he did acknowledge Hubbard’s wrongdoing but warned the current iteration of Alabama’s ethics laws could be susceptible to abuse.
“I will tell you — I got sucked into the politics of it,” Ball explained. “I had seen what I saw and started questioning it. And when I started questioning the investigative process, I got sucked into the politics of it. And the fact of it is, I never condoned what Mike Hubbard did or tried to get leniency for him or anything else. I mean, he was a friend and political ally — but anyway, those ethics laws — it is a way, if an unscrupulous prosecutor wants to put a bullseye on somebody and go after them, they can do it. They can ruin people.”
Ball cited the prosecution and subsequent acquittal of then-State Rep. Barry Moore, who is now a member of Congress, as an example of where prosecutors overstepped.
He said he had approached the Attorney General’s office about a remedy for his concerns but had gotten a “cold shoulder.”
“Once you know it could happen, it’s there,” he said. “And really, my purpose in trying to propose a legislative remedy is still a system of checks and balances. The fact is, last summer, I even reached out to them to let them know I’d like to do it, and I’d like for them to help me figure it out. As a matter of fact, I even sent them a copy of the legislation that I would like to do and haven’t heard a word from them.”
“As a matter of fact, they ran from me in this whole thing,” Ball continued. “You know what it is I saw that bothered me, and I pointed it out seek some remedies, and they have just given me the cold shoulder. So, I don’t know what else to do. Obviously, there’s not going to be any help in answering it. Certainly, not me. It may be because I was a friend and political ally of Mike Hubbard and because I had the unmitigated gall to question some of the things they did during that investigation, I’m blackballed, which is fine. Somebody else can do it at a later date. I’m ready to go to the house.”
Ball also said he was unaware of any efforts from any of his colleagues to influence legislation that might have benefitted Hubbard, as the AG’s filing had alleged.
“I haven’t heard anything about a conspiracy from Hubbard to influence legislation,” he said. “I really don’t know what they’re talking about, and I really haven’t ran into anybody else in the legislature that does. There’s more questions than there are answers. I wish the public had some answers. I wish I had some answers. But the thing is, I’ve been asking questions for six years now, and I ain’t got no answers.”
@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.