Hubbard singing different tune on ethics law
Published 11:37 pm Wednesday, September 16, 2015
Alabama House Speaker Mike Hubbard is … guilty of putting his interests ahead of those of people of Alabama.
When Hubbard engineered the great Republican takeover of the Legislature in 2010, he was chairman of the Alabama Republican Party. He contends that as party chairman, his actions should not fall under the ethics law and that the law itself is unconstitutionally vague.
That’s a different story than the one he was telling in 2010. Immediately after the Republicans took their first majority in the Legislature in more than a century, they passed a sweeping ethics package during a special session. Hubbard praised the new ethics law as a major step forward for Alabama, saying it would help end the state’s reputation for corruption. “We promised the people of this state they would see a difference in the way their government operates,” he said in a statement after the bill was signed into law. “This new Legislature is committed to being more transparent, more accountable and more responsive to the people’s needs than ever before.”
Fast forward to today. Hubbard stands accused of using his offices as speaker and as Alabama Republican Party chairman to benefit his businesses.
Hubbard, it’s alleged, solicited investments and clients and lobbied the governor’s office. His defense claims that’s constitutionally protected free speech and that the law doesn’t “provide the citizens of Alabama fair warning as to what constitutes legal versus illegal conduct.”
Laws generally are passed with good intentions, but sometimes there are unintended consequences. It would be folly to suggest otherwise.
It is not our place to judge Hubbard’s guilt or innocence on the ethics charges, but we do not buy the claim that the law is “unconstitutionally vague and overboard.” The ethics reform package was designed to clean up state government. If Hubbard used his official position to lobby the governor’s office and the Department of Commerce, we’re pretty sure he knew he was at the very least in a gray area, if not completely over the line.
To now say he didn’t understand the law he helped pass is the worst kind of story to tell the people of the state.