MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - Political leaders across Alabama are reacting to the indictment and arrest of Alabama House Speaker Mike Hubbard. Hubbard, a former chairman of the Alabama Republican Party, was charged with 23 felony ethics violations.
Alabama Governor Robert Bentley released the following statement:
"The people of Alabama need and deserve to know the facts in this case. I ask that everybody withhold final judgment until all the facts are known and the legal process has run its course."
Alabama Republican Party Chairman Bill Armistead released the following statement:
"America is the greatest country in the world, and one of the most sacred principles that we have in our criminal justice system is that an individual is innocent until proven guilty. The timing of this indictment, just two weeks before the election, causes one to wonder why now, unless it is for political purposes. But, we saw the same thing four years ago. Just weeks before the general election in 2010, 11 people were indicted in a federal corruption case involving gambling legislation. Of those 11, none were found guilty other than the two who pled guilty."
"No one needs to rush to judgment. Right now, all we have is a list of charges. We don't have the Speaker's position on these matters and to speculate about them would be unfair to him and an exercise in futility, since we do not know whether any of these charges are true. Again, everybody in our system of justice who is accused of a crime is presumed innocent and must be proven guilty 'beyond a reasonable doubt' in order to be convicted."
"While it is sad that this has occurred, life goes on for the rest of us and we have an election coming up in two weeks. Our focus will be getting our candidates elected. I am proud that we have the strongest crop of candidates in the history of the Alabama Republican Party, from local county offices to U.S. Senator. We will not be distracted by our opponents who will want to use this situation to smear our candidates and our party. I must remind everyone that these charges and indictments are against one individual, not the party and not our candidates."
"It saddens me that this has happened. In addition to being Speaker of the Alabama House, Mike Hubbard is a human being and anytime something like this happens it is a human tragedy, regardless of the ultimate outcome. My family and I will be praying for Mike and his family. We hope for a swift and just outcome to these matters."
Former Alabama Governor Bob Riley
released this statement:
Mike Hubbard has been one of the strongest and best leaders Alabama has ever seen. He led the Republican Party through one of its grandest hours and it is disappointing to see that his hard work, devotion, and loyalty to the party are now being called into question. Mike has been a leader in passing legislation to make Alabama more business friendly and in passing reforms to make our schools better for our children. He has been a valued supporter and confidant since my first campaign for Congress in 1996, and my daughter Minda has worked with Mike on campaigns to support Republican candidates long before he ever became Speaker. At no point have I have ever had reason to question Mike's integrity, which is why I cooperated fully with the investigation and answered each and every question posed to me by investigators. My family and I have been privileged to call Mike a dear friend for almost 20 years, and we extend our unequivocal support to Mike and his family during this difficult time. I recognize there is a process that now must move forward, and I am grateful that Mike will now have the opportunity to defend himself in court.
Nancy Worley, chairman of the Alabama Democratic Party, said she was surprised by the number of counts against Hubbard.
"This is a very serious matter which will hopefully be processed through the judicial system in a fair manner and justice will be served in the end," Worley said.
Representatives John Knight and Thad McClammy
learned the news Monday night that Mike Hubbard had been indicted. A WSFA 12 News crew gave them their first glimpse of the court documents at an event hosted by the Montgomery Transportation Coalition.
The lawmakers said the release of allegations at this stage in the game raises red flags. They also cited the scandal in 2010 when just weeks before the general election, nearly a dozen people were indicted in a federal corruption case involving gambling legislation.
"It seems mighty strange right before the election cycle that something like this would take place. I haven't had a chance to really look at it. I hate to see anything like this happen to anyone politically or otherwise," said Rep. John Knight. "If somebody has done something wrong then certainly, they should be indicted and whatever the consequences are, they're there but nothing should be done strictly for political reasons or political motives. It seems like, in this state, we continue to have political motives when it comes to the prosecutorial process of the state Attorney General's Office."
"It really is an impediment on good people who are really interested in public service because in many instances, it's at a great sacrifice not only to the individual, but to their families and to their communities. I've served with Speaker Hubbard for a number of years and he's an effective politician," added Rep. Thad McClammy.
Other state lawmakers weighed in on the indictment and allegations lodged at Mike Hubbard.
"It puts a cloud over the entire legislature until it can be heard and straightened out," said Rep. John Rogers.
"I know Mike Hubbard well, he's a friend of mine. I think that the charges are inconsistent with the Mike Hubbard I know and I'm looking forward to the presentation of both sides getting their day in court and seeing what the jury decides and I would not be surprised at all, I expect that he'll be acquitted," added Rep. Jack Williams.