Speaker indicted on 23 counts

Published 10:34 pm Monday, October 20, 2014

A Lee County grand jury has handed down 23 felony indictments against Alabama Speaker of the House Mike Hubbard, R-Auburn, for ethics law violations.

Three of the counts against Hubbard are related to his work with Southeast Alabama Gas District, headquartered in Andalusia.

W. Van Davis, a supernumerary district attorney appointed by Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange to handle an ongoing investigation involving potential public corruption in Alabama, and attorneys with the AG’s special prosecutions division, presented evidence to a Lee County Special Grand Jury resulting in Hubbard’s indictment.

Hubbard, 52, who represents Lee County in the Alabama House of Representatives, also is a former chairman of the Alabama Republican Party.

The charges include:

• Four counts of using his office as Chairman of the Alabama Republican Party for personal gain;

• One count of voting for legislation with a conflict of interest;

• Eleven counts of soliciting or receiving a thing of value from a lobbyist or principal;

• Two counts of using his office as a member of the Alabama House of Representatives for personal gain;

• Four counts of lobbying an executive department or agency for a fee; and

• One count of using state equipment, materials, etc. for private gain.

Counts 7, 8 and 9 of the indictment relate to Hubbard’s work with the Southeast Alabama Gas District. SEAGD announced on Jan. 27, 2012, that its board had retained the Auburn Network Inc. as part of its increased efforts to recruit new jobs.

“Mike Hubbard and his team of professionals at Auburn Network, Inc. have the talent and expertise to help us build our brand so we can sell it,” Ozark Mayor Billy Blackwell, then chair of the SEAGD board, said at the time the contract was announced.

Hubbard founded the Auburn Network in 1994.

The contract was terminated in 2013 at the request of the Auburn Network, after the grand jury investigation began. SEAGD’s contract with the Auburn Network was for $12,000 per month, according to published reports.

The three related counts allege that Hubbard used his office for personal gain when he and or the Auburn Network received payment from SEAGD. He also is charged with lobbying an executive department or agency for a fee on SEAGD’s behalf. The indictments name the agencies as the Alabama Department of Commerce and the Office of the Governor for the State of Alabama.

SEAGD officials declined comment Monday.

Others linked to the case include former Gov. Bob Riley; Riley’s daughter, Minda Riley; Business Council of Alabama president Bill Canary; and Great Southern Wood Preserving Inc. CEO Jimmy Rane (known as the Yella Fella from his company’s TV spots).

If convicted, Hubbard faces a maximum penalty of two to 20 years imprisonment and fines of up to $30,000 for each count, all of which are Class B felonies.