- Associated Press - Thursday, June 2, 2016

OPELIKA, Ala. (AP) - Two prominent businessmen testified Thursday that they invested in Alabama House Speaker Mike Hubbard’s debt-riddled printing company out of friendship and because they thought it would be a good investment.

Media outlets report that Great Southern Wood President Jimmy Rane and Hoar Construction President Rob Burton said their $150,000 investments were not made because of Hubbard’s political position.

“I invested in that because Mike Hubbard was a friend, and it had nothing to do with being speaker of the house,” Burton testified, according to the Montgomery Advertiser (https://on.mgmadv.com/20WcSom ).

Hubbard’s business partner testified earlier in the trial that in order to alleviate the company’s debt, they decided to seek investments from deep-pocketed individuals in exchange for preferred stock in the company.

Hubbard is charged with 23 felony ethics violations, accusing him of using his positions as speaker and state GOP chairman to make money and benefit his clients. Those charges include that he solicited financial favors from lobbyists and people with business before the Alabama Legislature. Hubbard has maintained his innocence, saying he stayed within the limits of the law, which includes exemptions for longstanding friendships and normal business dealings.

The owner of a drinking cup company, who hired Hubbard in a $10,000.00 per month contract, also testified he that hired Hubbard to help market his products because of his background in college sports.

“We went to him because of the sports network connection is where I thought he might be helpful,” Abrams said, according to al.com (https://bit.ly/1U0HpRn ). Hubbard’s company once held the broadcasting rights for Auburn University athletics.

Testimony resumes Friday.

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