MONTGOMERY, Ala. — Indicted House Speaker Mike Hubbard was having deepening financial troubles — to the point that he was considering leaving politics — and sought assistance from powerful friends and lobbyists who at times cautioned him about his requests, according to emails included in a prosecution court filing Friday.
The filing in Lee County Circuit Court provided the first glimpse of the prosecution's evidence against the powerful politician who is scheduled to go to trial in October on felony ethics charges. Prosecutors said Hubbard used his past position as chairman of the Alabama Republican Party and current one as speaker to "to make money and obtain financial favors from lobbyists and others with interests before the Legislature."
Hubbard has maintained his innocence and his lawyer said the filings were designed to mislead the public.
"By design, Alabama has a citizen legislature, not a full-time legislature. It's no secret that Mike Hubbard is a longtime businessman. It's not improper for him to conduct personal business," defense lawyer Mark White said.
The pages of emails, stretching from 2011 to 2013, depict Hubbard as stressed after losing his job and desperate to obtain new employment or investments and clients for his companies. In an email to former Gov. Bob Riley, Hubbard wrote that he felt like he was having a midlife crisis and failing his family by sacrificing the opportunity to make money in favor of his political post.
"The question now is DO YOU 'WANT' to be Gov. — or — make a lot of money: good thing is you could do either but I am not sure it's possible to do both," Riley responded.
Hubbard also asked Riley if he could work for the former governor's lobbying firm. "We could do media buying, polling, focus groups, design work, printing, anything you need," Hubbard wrote.
Hubbard also went to Will Brooke, an executive at Harbert Management Corporation, for assistance, telling him in an email that he was close to "hitting the panic button" when his employment ended at the end of this month. In others emails, he asked Brooke if he knew of any clients for his company and lamented that despite putting together a pro-business legislature, "businesses seem to want to avoid any personal association with me like the plague."
Brooke responded, "No Mike. That's not it. I think that folks are afraid to mess up, on either their or your side of the equation." Brooke suggested Hubbard find 10 people to invest $150,000 each so Hubbard could pay off debt and improve cash flow at one of his companies, according to Hubbard's emails. Prosecutors said Hubbard then solicited and received investments from Brooke and the owners and executives at three other companies.
Prosecutors have accused Hubbard of using his position as ALGOP chairman to "essentially embezzle over one million dollars in ALGOP money to Hubbard's printing and media businesses." The party contracted with a Florida company named Majority Strategies for campaign work, which then sent printing business to Hubbard's company, Craftmaster.
"Per Mike, we're printing at Craftmaster and just passing the actual charges on to you all (GOP)," Randy Kammerdiener, an executive at Majority Strategies, wrote to an employee of the Republican Party in one of the emails prosecutors included in their court filing.
Prosecutors said Hubbard's legal adviser in 2013 emailed budget language to the legislative fiscal office that would have directed state Medicaid drug business to a Bessemer pharmacy company that had hired Hubbard's media company in Auburn. They said the head of the pharmacy company sent Hubbard a letter on April 19, 2013, thanking him for putting the language in the budget.
Hubbard has disputed that he was responsible for adding the language, which the Alabama Senate later stripped from the measure.
Prosecutors said that Hubbard, with Riley's help, obtained a $12,000-a-month economic-development consulting contract with Southeast Alabama Gas District. Prosecutors said Hubbard "wore the mantle of his office" in meetings with Gov. Robert Bentley and other state officials and reported back to the gas company that he was being a "cheerleader" for projects that could benefit them and was working to bring them to fruition.