Defense Rests in Ethics Trial of Alabama Speaker

     (CN) — The defense rested on Thursday in the felony ethics trial of Alabama House Speaker Mike Hubbard, after prosecutors spent a final day trying to poke holes in his testimony.
     Defense counsel called just one witness, Mike Hubbard himself, to make its case, after prosecutors wrapped up their arguments on Tuesday.
     Hubbard testified for three consecutive days, including an hour first thing Thursday morning.
     Hubbard, a Republican from Auburn, was indicted in 2014 on 23 counts of ethics violations. Hubbard ironically was a strong advocate of the 2010 ethics legislation in which he now finds himself embroiled.
     Hubbard is charged with using his powerful political position in the state for personal gain, including using his office to acquire consulting clients and to solicit investors for a printing business in which he held an interest.
     He’s also accused of including language in a state budget that would have uniquely benefited one of his consulting clients, American Pharmacy Cooperative Inc. The language was eventually removed.
     In Thursday’s testimony, prosecutors poked a hole in Hubbard’s characterization of a lobbyist for the grocery store chain Publix as a “friend,” revealing that Hubbard didn’t know whether the man was dead or alive.
     Hubbard indicated that the lobbyist had passed away, though lead prosecutor Matt Hart revealed that the man was still alive.
     “I must have him confused with someone else,” Hubbard admitted.
     Among the many charges against him, Hubbard is accused of using his position as speaker of the house to lobby on behalf of a consulting client, Capitol Cups.
     Following Hubbard’s brief appearance on the stand Thursday, the state called state Sen. Pro Tem Del Marsh to the stand. Marsh testified about his role as the finance chair of the Alabama Republican Party.
     Marsh was asked specifically to address allegations Hubbard used his position as party chairman to divert funds to his struggling printing company during the 2010 election cycle.
     “I did not personally choose Craftmaster,” Marsh testified.
     Marsh also noted that he did not remember a particular meeting in which the defense claims the decision was discussed as a group.
     After the defense rested Thursday morning, attorneys for Hubbard moved the court to dismiss the charges. Judge Jacob Walker denied the motion.
     Closing arguments are expected to begin Thursday afternoon.

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