Memo reveals infighting in Ala. corruption probe

Published 3:00 am Friday, September 19, 2014

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — A state prosecutor told a co-worker that he was going to take down Speaker of the House Mike Hubbard and “dismantle the Riley machine,” according to unsealed court documents.

The unsealed documents also show that a member of the attorney general’s office was subpoenaed to a special grand jury and advised by his lawyer to not answer prosecutors’ questions, citing his right against self-incrimination.

Deputy Attorney General Matt Hart made the comments about the House speaker to Sonny Reagan, according to a July 22 memo Reagan wrote to the chief of the administrative division in the attorney general’s office.

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The memo was included in court filings unsealed Wednesday. They are related to Reagan’s unsuccessful effort to block a subpoena to appear before Hart’s grand jury.

Reagan is a lawyer specializing in gambling litigation. He worked in Gov. Bob Riley’s administration before becoming a deputy attorney general on Attorney General Luther Strange’s staff. Reagan sought to quash the grand jury subpoena, claiming it was retaliation for his disputes with Hart.

“Matt has told me repeatedly how he plans to take down Hubbard and dismantle ‘the Riley machine’ and has revealed to me grand jury information, or information described to me as grand jury information,” Reagan wrote.

The document shed some light on a yearlong public corruption probe that has focused on Hubbard, one of the most powerful men in state politics. It also put a spotlight on internal turmoil within the attorney general’s office.

Hubbard, R-Auburn, was the architect of Republicans’ 2010 takeover of the Alabama Legislature and is a long-time ally of Riley’s. The investigation has put a cloud over him as he seeks to win another term as speaker.

A judge denied Reagan’s motion to block the testimony. The Court of Criminal Appeals declined to review the matter on Sept. 5 and unsealed the filings.

Strange has stepped aside from the corruption investigation. It is being led by acting Attorney General Van Davis with Hart as a key prosecutor. Strange did not respond to a request for comment.

Hart declined comment.

A lawyer for Hubbard said his legal team will seek an investigation.

“Every citizen of Alabama should be offended and deeply disturbed that rather than following the well-established grand jury process, certain representatives of the Alabama attorney general are instead conducting a political inquisition with the articulated purpose ‘to take down Hubbard,’” said Hubbard’s lawyer, Mark White.

Davis issued a subpoena Aug. 14 for Reagan to appear before a Lee County grand jury. Reagan’s lawyers sought to block it, saying it was done in retaliation for filing the complaint against Hart.

Hart told the judge Reagan was not a target.

The unsealed court flings also show Reagan was advised to not answer questions before the grand jury, citing his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination.

“We find this whole situation to be baffling and troubling,” Reagan’s lawyer, Bill Baxley, said Wednesday.