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Judge won’t dismiss charges on Ala. legislator
Question of the Day
MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) - House Speaker Mike Hubbard’s name appeared in a court document Friday for the first time in connection with a legislative corruption investigation in Lee County.
Circuit Judge Jacob Walker III released a letter that state Attorney General Luther Strange sent to former St. Clair County District Attorney Van Davis in January 2013. It thanked Davis for agreeing “to assume oversight of the State’s interests in the current investigative matters relating to State Representative Mike Hubbard to include all criminal matters arising from that investigation.”
The judge attached the letter to an order refusing to dismiss perjury and false information charges against Republican Rep. Barry Moore of Enterprise.
Matt Hart, chief of special prosecution for the attorney general, declined comment Friday.
Hubbard, R-Auburn, was out of state and not immediately available for comment. But he has called the investigation political.
His attorney, Mark White, said Friday the letter raises more questions than it answers about whether Davis was properly appointed to oversee the investigation. He said the a section of state law the attorney general cited in the letter only refers to appointing active district attorneys, not former district attorneys, to help with investigations.
Moore is accused of lying to a Lee County grand jury that was convened by the attorney general’s office to conduct the investigation. He has pleaded not guilty.
The investigation resulted in another legislator, Republican Rep. Greg Wren of Montgomery, resigning his seat in April and pleading guilty to a misdemeanor ethics violation. He named the speaker’s title in his plea agreement, but did not mention Hubbard by name.
Wren acknowledged taking action in the Alabama Legislature that could have steered Medicaid business to a Bessemer pharmacy cooperative that had ties to another company that hired Wren as an $8,000-a-month consultant. Hubbard’s company, the Auburn Network, did business development work for the pharmacy cooperative. Wren said the speaker supported putting language in the state budget to help the pharmacy cooperative.
Hubbard has said repeatedly he had nothing to do with that.
In Moore’s case, he’s accused of lying to the grand jury when he denied telling primary election opponent Josh Pipkin that Hubbard had threatened to hold up economic development funds if Pipkin stayed in the race. Pipkin had recorded a telephone call with Moore.
Moore won the June 3 primary over Pipkin.
Moore’s attorney, former Lt. Gov. Bill Baxley, had argued that the indictments against Moore were flawed, but the judge disagreed Friday. Moore’s side had also sought to subpoena documents about the appointment of Davis to oversee the investigation. The judge received Strange’s 2013 letter as a result. He said it supports the authority of the attorney general to name someone to head an investigation.
The attorney general normally steps aside from an investigation when he has a conflict, such as having done legal work for a participant in a case prior to becoming attorney general. Strange has not said why he stepped aside, but both he and Hubbard are mentioned frequently as potential candidates for governor in 2018.
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