OPELIKA, AL (WSFA) - In a stunning move, Alabama House Speaker Mike Hubbard Tuesday took the stand in his felony ethics violations case as the first witness for the defense. Hubbard, who remained steady and calm, was sworn-in and answered questions from his attorney, David Knight.
Hubbard, who wore his House of Representatives pin, answered Knight's questions with more ease than likely any other witness that has taken the stand so far. The defendant faced the jury and spoke directly to them, and the jury responded with engagement, honing in on every word Hubbard said.
Testimony started with Hubbard talking about his journey to where he is now, how he first knew after taking a trip with his Boy Scouts group that he wanted to work in radio. He discussed how his success running Heisman campaigns at Georgia caught the attention of Auburn, and he was hired to work for Auburn after graduating from Georgia, helping with a successful campaign that saw Bo Jackson win the Heisman in 1985.
It took less than 20 minutes of testimony to build up to Hubbard's first election and then election as Chairman of the Alabama Republican Party. He casually described the GOP's group meeting to choose Craftmaster to print everything in 2010 to save the party money. It was also a move to consolidate vendors to essentially spend less and have more control.
The speaker stressed that using Craftmaster Printers - a company he partly owned - was a group decision within the Alabama Republican Party, and frequently said "We" instead of "I" when talking about decisions related to the party.
Hubbard spoke to the jury when addressing the difficult emails between he and former Alabama Gov. Bob Riley. Hubbard said he was worried and poured his heart out without knowing the government would put it online for the world to read.
Hubbard said he was looking for work and went to the Alabama Ethics Commission to draw up a letter he could present to potential clients about the ethics laws, which was granted. He also noted a meeting with the Southeast Alabama Gas District (SEAGD), for which he was earning $12,000 per month in consulting fees, and the ethics commission prior to entering that contract.
Hubbard was on the stand for about two hours Tuesday and a full day of testimony from him is expected Wednesday, the eleventh day of the trial.
The speaker is accused of 23 felony ethics violations, and a conviction on any count would see his automatic removal from office.
4 counts of using of his office as Chairman of the Alabama Republican Party for personal gain
1 count of voting for legislation with a conflict of interest
11 counts of soliciting or receiving a thing of value from a lobbyist or principal
2 counts of using his office as a member of the Alabama House of Representatives for personal gain
4 counts of lobbying an executive department or agency for a fee
1 count of using state equipment, materials, etc. for private gain.
Hubbard's testimony came after the prosecution rested its case earlier in the day.