Hubbard disgraces House, should resign as speaker

Published 11:02 pm Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Amid all the sniping about who said what and in what overheated language among prosecutors in the attorney general’s office, it is easy to become distracted from the real issue at the heart of this week’s proceedings in Lee County – the conduct of House Speaker Mike Hubbard. The lawyerly sparring makes lively reading, but no one should forget what it’s ultimately all about.
Despite all the back-and-forth about alleged prosecutorial misconduct and inflated rhetoric about going after Hubbard in a political vendetta, one central fact remains: The speaker of the Alabama House of Representatives stands accused of serious wrongdoing, with the accusation coming not from political foes, but in the form of 23 indictments handed down by a grand jury, a group of citizens with no allegiances to any of the parties on either side of the case.
Those Alabamians heard evidence against Hubbard and determined that the evidence was sufficient to warrant his being tried. An indictment is not proof of guilt, and while it is important to bear that in mind, it does not discount the significance of an indictment. As does any defendant in a criminal case, Hubbard enjoys the presumption of innocence; it is the prosecution’s obligation to prove guilt to the satisfaction of a jury.
Regardless of the eventual legal outcome of this case, Hubbard has already suffered an irreversible defeat in the court of public perception. His hypocrisy in decrying the very ethics laws he championed in the Legislature and ceaselessly touted as evidence of Republican-led reform is appalling. What he once hailed as a shining light to defend the public interest suddenly became – when applied to him – impermissibly vague and unconstitutional.
Hubbard has shown himself willing to make any argument that might help him beat the charges, no matter how much it might otherwise discredit him. He has argued that the ethics law shouldn’t apply to the chair of a political party, which he used to be, even though the Legislature expanded the law to cover party chairs 20 years ago – without challenge at the time or since.
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