MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WIAT) — The Alabama Supreme Court has upheld several ethics violations that cost the former Alabama Speaker of the House his perch in state politics, while also reversing the decision on others.
In a decision released Friday, the court upheld six counts of ethics violations that Mike Hubbard, the Auburn politician who was a longtime powerful force in state politics, had been convicted on back in 2016. However, the court did reverse five counts on him, citing a misunderstanding in how the state’s ethics laws work.
“Our role as Justices is not to praise or question the wisdom of the Ethics Code or to reprove or excuse Hubbard’s behavior. We must interpret and apply the law,” the decision summary read. “And every person accused of breaking the law — even one who had a hand in creating that law — is entitled to (and bound by) the same rules of legal interpretation. When charged with a crime, public officials must be treated no better — and no worse — than other citizens in this State where all are guaranteed equal justice under law.”
Hubbard was the former chairman of the Alabama Republican Party and was indicted in 2014 on 23 counts of ethics violations that he had received money to vote a certain way on issues that would affect certain companies. In 2016, he was found guilty on 12 of the counts.
In 2018, the Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals upheld 11 of the 12 counts.
Gov. Kay Ivey released the following statement on the Hubbard news:
“Today’s ruling from the Alabama Supreme Court is the culmination of four years of deliberation, and I support and accept their findings. As an elected official, our first priority is to be above reproach and avoid even the appearance of misconduct and abuse of office.
“I support seeking clarity on our state’s ethics laws to ensure those who want to abide by them may not be unfairly targeted. However, let me be abundantly clear, I do not support weakening a system that is meant to hold our elected officials accountable. The rule of law must be upheld.
“Even more so on this Good Friday, my thoughts and prayers are on Mike Hubbard’s family and upon our state as we move on from this unfortunate part of Alabama’s history.”
Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall also released the following statement:
“Today, the Alabama Supreme Court delivered its opinion in the case of former speaker of the Alabama House of Representatives, Mike Hubbard,” said Attorney General Marshall. “The Court’s decision reflects what we have argued from the beginning: Mike Hubbard’s actions were corrupt and betrayed the public trust. It is well past time for Mike Hubbard to serve the time he has so richly earned.
“While I am pleased that the Supreme Court agreed that former Speaker Hubbard broke the law and will be held accountable for his abuse of power, I am also disappointed in the court’s interpretation of Alabama’s ethics law concerning the definition of a principal. While I can live with the court’s insistence on a clearer definition of principal, going forward, that definition must also be strong.
“This case was not just a trial of former Speaker Hubbard’s misconduct, but also a test of our ethics law. Mr. Hubbard campaigned in 2010 on the message that Alabama ‘sorely needed’ a stronger ethics law. As a state, we must now ask ourselves a serious question: Do we want the type of behavior that Hubbard got away with to be illegal? If the answer is yes, then legislative action is again sorely needed and we must commit to strengthening our ethics law.”
Hubbard, who served in the Alabama House of Representatives from 1998 until his conviction in 2016, has not served any jail time, despite being sentenced to four years in prison. Since his conviction, Hubbard has been out on appeal.
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