Former governor testifies during indicted speaker’s trial

Published 3:00 am Tuesday, June 7, 2016

OPELIKA, Ala. (AP) — Former Alabama Gov. Bob Riley testified on Monday that requests the House speaker sent him asking for help finding a job were sometimes serious and sometimes part of a running joke between the two old friends.

As the state ethics trial for House Speaker Mike Hubbard resumed Monday, a state prosecutor continued to quiz the former governor about the emails in which Hubbard appears to repeatedly ask Riley for a job and lament that a 2010 ethics law would prevent him from working directly for the former governor’s new lobbying firm. The exchanges were tense between Riley, a man Hubbard has described as his political mentor and father figure, and a prosecutor who is trying to prove Hubbard violated the state ethics law with his requests to Riley.

“I need to be a salesman for GB&R. Except for those ethics laws. Who proposed those things?! What were we thinking?” Hubbard wrote to Riley in 2011.

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“Of course it was a joke,” Riley said as he responded to questions by prosecutor Matt Hart.

Hubbard led Republicans’ 2010 push to win control of the Alabama Legislature for the first time since Reconstruction. After winning a majority, the GOP-controlled Legislature passed a tougher ethics in a special session called by Riley.

But with prompting from Hart, Riley also acknowledged what he told a grand jury: Hubbard was also serious about seeking help finding a job after being laid off by his primary employer, Auburn’s IMG Sports Network.

“Mike and I talked about Mike working for me for two years,” Riley said. “There was a point where it was serious. … When he lost the IMG contract, he began to be serious about finding a way to support his family.”

Hubbard did not work for Riley’s lobbying firm, but prosecutors are attempting to show that he improperly used his office to solicit jobs and obtain clients. Hubbard, 54, faces 23 felony ethics charges accusing him of using the power and prestige of his political offices to benefit his companies and clients and to try to obtain $2.3 million worth of work, investments and financial favors. Hubbard argues the transactions were within the bounds of the ethics law and exemptions for normal business dealings and longstanding friendships such as the one he had with Riley.

Riley said Hubbard’s troubled financial situation was something they discussed often. “We talked about getting work with people we had both known for years,” Riley said. The exchanges between Hart and Riley got testy at times. Hart cut off Riley’s attempts to offer lengthy answers.

and asked permission to treat Riley as a hostile witness. Riley raised his voice when Hubbard asked if he had ever given Hubbard a “warning” about not running afoul of state ethics law.


“It’s not a simple question for one reason. You’re asking a question not knowing the context of the question. It’s the same thing you did in the grand jury,” Riley interjected.


Riley eventually said he did offer a cautionary warning. Riley asked Hart if he wanted him to elaborate. Hart replied no.


Hart also questioned Riley about emails the pair exchanged about ongoing legislative and state business while Riley was a lobbyist and Hubbard was speaker. Hubbard in one email mentioned potential clients for Riley and Riley suggested a family friend to serve as attorney for the House caucus.


Hubbard was also trying to persuade a client of Riley’s __ the owner of a trucking company — to relocate a facility to southeast Alabama, where Hubbard did industrial recruiting for a municipal-owned gas utility. One of the charges against Hubbard accuse him of being paid to lobby the governor’s office on behalf of the project.