Prosecution rests in ethics case against speaker

Prosecution rests in ethics case against speaker

June 7th, 2016 by Associated Press in Politics State

Alabama House Speaker Mike Hubbard talks to his wife Susan Hubbard during a break in his trail Wednesday, June 1, 2016, in Opelika, Ala. (Todd J. Van Emst/Opelika-Auburn News via AP, Pool)

Photo by Associated Press /Times Free Press.

OPELIKA, Ala. — A state investigator broke down for jurors the $2.3 million that Alabama House Speaker Mike Hubbard's businesses received from political party work, his consulting contracts and investments, as prosecutors wrapped up their case in Hubbard's ethics trial Tuesday.

The columns of numbers and excerpts from Hubbard's personal income tax returns were projected on a screen for jurors in a quiet conclusion to more than two weeks of sometimes combative testimony from members of Hubbard's inner circle and a roster of the state's business and political elite.

Greg Fee, an investigator with the Alabama attorney general's office, testified that Hubbard's companies received $600,000 in investments, $1 million in political party work, and about $700,000 from Hubbard's consulting contracts. Hubbard's household income from wages hovered between $312,000 and $352,000, according to federal tax returns from 2009 to 2012. His yearly income stayed relatively steady as consulting work replaced other wages when Hubbard was laid off from his primary job at a sports network.

Hubbard, 54, faces 23 felony ethics charges accusing him of using the power and prestige of his political offices to benefit his companies and clients. Prosecutors said Hubbard directed party campaign work back to his printing company; solicited investments and help finding employment from lobbyists and company executives; and used the power of his office to benefit his clients through legislative action or lobbying the governor's office.

The defense will begin calling witnesses Tuesday afternoon. Lee County Circuit Judge Jacob Walker rejected a defense request to dismiss the charges.

Hubbard's defense asked for a summary judgment of acquittal, arguing prosecutors had failed to meet their burden.

"They haven't put on any evidence of Mr. Hubbard using his office to get these contracts," defense lawyer David McKnight argued.

McKnight said many of the accusations against Hubbard are vague and depend on loose interpretations such as what constitutes using the "aura" of your elected office to benefit a business client, language that is used in the state ethics law. McKnight said many transactions didn't result in personal financial gain, such as $600,000 investments in Hubbard's debt-ridden printing company.

Prosecutor John Gibbs argued that Hubbard should be held accountable.

"A person who steals money can't say, 'Wait a minute, my expenses were higher so I really didn't steal anything.' This man took hundreds of thousands of dollars," Gibbs said.

Hubbard's defense has also suggested that many of the transactions fell under a friendship exemption in the ethics law.

Former Alabama Gov. Bob Riley, a longtime friend of Hubbard's, concluded his testimony Tuesday.

Riley, who became a lobbyist after leaving office, testified on Monday that Hubbard asked for a job at his firm and asked for assistance finding employment. Under cross-examination Tuesday, Riley insisted that he thought Hubbard was careful about trying to obey the state ethics law.


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