Prosecutors Accuse Ala. |Speaker of Self-Dealing

     (CN) — The felony ethics trial of Alabama House Speaker Mike Hubbard resumde Tuesday with prosecutors continuing to assert the powerful Auburn Republican used his clout for extensive self-dealing.
     Hubbard is charged with 23 counts of corruption. These include allegations he improperly directed business to companies in which he had an interest and that he used his political position to secure consulting clients.
     He’s also accused of using his position as the state House Speaker to add language to a state budget that would have specifically benefited a pharmaceutical company for which he served as a consultant, American Pharmacy Cooperative Inc.
     The first week of testimony, which ended Friday, saw a parade of Hubbard’s business and political associates taking the stand, including two former executive directors of the Alabama GOP, John Ross and Tim Howe.
     In Friday’s testimony, APCI President and CEO Tim Hamrick testified that Hubbard was paid $5,000 a month for his consulting work, though the consulting agreement specifically disallowed Hubbard from providing his services within the.
     Prosecutors also introduced a “thank you” letter from Hamrick, in which he thanked Hubbard for adding the language to the bill. The language, which would have given APCI a monopoly, was eventually removed from the legislation.
     Lead defense attorney Bill Baxley argued that the letter was simply a form letter, which was used by APCI and sent to a variety of legislators.
     Friday’s testimony also included that of Enterprise Mayor Kenneth Boswell, who serves as a board member on the Southeast Alabama Gas District (SEAGD).
     According to Boswell, SEAGD hired Hubbard as a fulltime consultant to assist with economic development within the district’s 14 cities.
     During testimony, Boswell acknowledged that Hubbard’s hire was based on his political position in the state as well as his “networking ability.”
     He also acknowledged there was sometimes a lack of clarity as to which role Hubbard was playing while attending meetings.
     Baxley disputed prosecutors questioning Hubbard’s use of security at events paid for by SEAGD by having Boswell read from a statute that indicated security was required for high-ranking political figures, such as the house speaker.
     Additionally, a Regions Bank officer testified about two 2012 loans, for which Hubbard was listed as a guarantor.
     One of the loans provided $600,000 of working capital for Hubbard’s business, Craftmaster Printers, while the other, a loan for $1.6 million, was to purchase the building in which Craftmaster was located.
     To turn the struggling printing business around, Hubbard was able to secure an additional $1.5 million in private investment, the officer testified.

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