Alabama Speaker of the House Mike Hubbard and his attorney Mark White addressed the speaker’s recent 23-count indictment during a press conference this afternoon from Auburn that was simlucast around the state.
Yesterday’s indictment was a political bombshell that accused Hubbard of multiple counts of using his position as the leader of Alabama’s GOP and speaker for personal gain through his businesses the Auburn Network and Craftmaster Printing.
White and Hubbard, who were joined by several political figures from both Lee County and the state of Alabama, wasted no time addressing the flurry of rumors following Hubbard’s arrest yesterday.
“Mike Hubbard will not resign and he will not step aside as speaker,” White said. “This is politics at its worst, and it’s past time for this state to stop using our criminal justice system to advance a candidate or a political agenda.”
U.S. Rep. Mike Rodgers echoed Hubbard’s sentiment that the indictment was part of a “political witch hunt” and went so far as to ask the group of mostly Hubbard supporters, “Who would like to be governor in four years? That would like Mike Hubbard out of the picture or at least skinned up a bit?”
Later, when asked by reporters, White confirmed rumors that Hubbard and his camp believe the indictment originated from the office of Attorney General Luther Strange.
“I can’t figure out when he’s the Attorney General and when he’s not,” White said. “Some of the legal issues that we’ll be presenting the next few weeks have to do with that very issue. One day’s he’s recused himself from the grand jury and the next day he writes a letter and says, ‘Thanks for reporting to me.’”
Acting GOP Chairman Bill Armistead audited the party in 2012, which led to a grand jury investigation. In early 2013, Strange recused himself from the matter, appointing retired St. Clair County District Attorney W. Van Davis in his place.
Hubbard repeated similar points that were outlined in his initial statement after his arrest Monday, saying the timing of the indictment – two weeks before the Nov. 4 general election – was politically motivated.
“It’s happening because we, all of us in the House and Senate, we have made tremendous changes in the state of Alabama over the last four years, and that is shaking up the status quo,” Hubbard said. “During that process we’ve angered some people that like things the way they are. It’s all about putting a stop on the positive progress that we’re making.”
White said Hubbard’s legal team was demanding evidentiary hearings on issues related to the indictment and the conduct of the Lee County grand jury. He said he was working on establishing some kind of hearing before the general election, but admitted it would be difficult.
“When you have a political agenda, you make those charges close to the election,” White said.
He also took issues with the private citizens named in the indictment, which included former Gov. Bob Riley, Business Council of Alabama (BCA) board member Will Brooke, BCA CEO Billy Canary, James Holbrook of the Sterne Agee Group, Inc., and others.
“That’s as chilling and as frightening as anything I’ve ever seen,” White said. “How many people in here have made a private investment that returned six perfect? That’s what they did and that’s what got them into that indictment.”
White suggested the allegations weren’t false, but said instead what was going on wasn’t a crime. When Hubbard spoke, he went on to say Strange and his office “think it’s a crime to have a business, and think you can’t do business with anyone you didn’t know before you entered office.”
According to White, Hubbard’s legal team will be addressing some “factuality issues” in the indictment and would also be lifting the “veil of secrecy” around the Lee County grand jury.
When asked by a member of audience, Hubbard said he never gave any thought to resigning from office and was “looking forward to clearing his good name.”
“This may be hard to understand, but we’re actually glad this day is finally here,” White said. “Now we know what we’re up against. We’ll be prepared to deal with the allegations and without hesitation, we say on behalf of Mike Hubbard to every citizen of this state, ‘not guilty.’”