Speaker Tells Court He’s Always Behaved Ethically

     (CN) — Alabama House Speaker Mike Hubbard, on trial on multiple ethics violations charges, told the court he did everything he could to avoid conflicts of interest while trying to save his private business.
     Hubbard, a Republican from Auburn, Ala., has been testifying in his own defense since late Tuesday afternoon. He is charged with 23 counts of ethics violations, including charges that he used his political position for personal gain.
     One of the specific charges against Hubbard is that he used his position as chairman of the state’s Republican Party to steer business to his own struggling printing business, Craftmaster Printing.
     Hubbard said on Tuesday that the decision to use Craftmaster for an important political campaign in 2010 was a “group decision.”
     “We knew Craftmaster could do it,” Hubbard testified. “We could control every aspect of it.”
     Hubbard also testified that Republican candidates weren’t forced to use Craftmaster and that some of them did use other, local printers for small mailings.
     Under questioning from defense attorneys on Tuesday, Hubbard painted a portrait of himself as someone who “loved sports” and was skilled at managing a campaign.
     While a journalism student at the University of Georgia, Hubbard assisted with the Heisman Trophy campaign for running back Herschel Walker, he testified.
     “We had to do a campaign, because most people had not seen him play,” Hubbard said of Walker.
     Hubbard said that he later did the same for Auburn University running back Bo Jackson, after accepting a job with Auburn’s media relations department.
     Hubbard would later create a multimedia company called the Auburn Network, which brought Auburn sports broadcasts together “under one roof.”
     When Hubbard was told that he’d be losing his job with IMG Sports in 2011, he said that the prospect of the lost income weighed heavily.
     “It concerned me obviously,” Hubbard testified. “That’s when I sought advice from folks.”
     Among those that he contacted was former Alabama Gov. Bob Riley, who Hubbard described as being a “father figure” to him.
     “We were looking for other opportunities,” Hubbard testified. “I talked to several people I trusted.”
     Hubbard is specifically charged with soliciting a business client from Riley, who became a lobbyist after leaving the governor’s office.
     Hubbard also testified that he sought guidance from the Alabama Ethics Commission concerning his consulting work.
     In a letter to the director of the Ethics Commission, Hubbard wrote that he wanted to make sure there was “no conflict with my elected position.”
     The prosecution rested their case on Tuesday morning, following testimony by Riley and a special investigator with the attorney general’s office.

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