Day 11: Prosecution challenges Hubbard’s testimony

Day 11: Prosecution challenges Hubbard’s testimony

OPELIKA, AL (WSFA) - Alabama House Speaker Mike Hubbard strongly denied intentionally violating any laws and said he is "absolutely not" guilty in front of the jury in his ethics trial Wednesday.

So far, Hubbard has testified about five hours and will continue Thursday morning.

Hubbard took the stand in his defense Tuesday afternoon. He's charged with 23 felony ethics charges that include using his position for personal financial gain.

When the prosecution got it's chance to cross examine Hubbard Wednesday afternoon, they immediately challenged the defense's argument that Hubbard was struggling financially on his part-time salary from the state and forced to find ways to generate more income.

State prosecutor Matt Hart worked to make Hubbard appear greedy to the jury by showing Hubbard was expressing financial distress while making about $31,000 a month. The jury also learned Tuesday that Hubbard had a household income of more than $300,000 a year.

Hart also asked Hubbard about his properties in Auburn, Lake Wedowee, Loachapoka and Florida.

The prosecution is also trying to point out problems they see with Hubbard's testimony to the defense. They say he contracted statements he made in 2014 and also contradicted testimony from other witnesses.

The biggest notable contradiction in Hubbard's testimony so far, according to Hart, involved a lobbyist who testified that Hubbard asked him to invest in Craftmaster Printers. Hubbard strongly denied it ever happened. This is also the only charge in the indictment Hubbard has flat out denied.

Hart also argued Hubbard contradicted other witness testimony involving language added to the Medicaid portion of the general fund budget in 2013 that likely would have affected one of Hubbard's clients, American Pharmacy Cooperative.

Hubbard testified he didn't see the language until just before the vote on the budget, but one of his former staffers testified earlier in the trial that he was in meetings with the speaker about the language. Another staffer said he drafted the language and showed it to Hubbard to approve.

The defense provided each of the jurors with a copy of the budget and tried to stress the language in question is a few lines in a very large document that controls the funding for everything in the state, except education.

Hubbard explained he went on to vote in favor of the budget because it was only one part of a "very important piece of legislation," and he didn't think it was a conflict for him because his work for APCI was out of state. Hubbard also mentioned that then-representative Greg Wren was the person who put the language into the bill.

"It didn't affect me one way or the other if the language was in there," Hubbard testified.

The prosecution has tried to show Hubbard hid his consulting contracts, including the one with APCI, from his staff and colleagues in the legislature.

Hubbard confirmed his chief of staff, Josh Blades, and others involved in the meetings about the budget language didn't know he had a contract with APCI until the day of the vote.

"As I said, I don't communicate my private business with anyone, especially my staff," Hubbard said.

The defense went through each of Hubbard's four consulting contracts. Hubbard has stressed that each of the companies reached out to him about consulting and all of them, except SEAGD, were for work outside of the state.

The defense quickly touched on several of the witnesses who had previously testified and who are named in the indictment. Hubbard said any advice or investments he solicited from Will Brooke, Jimmy Rane, Bob Burton, former Gov. Bob Riley, Minda Riley Campbell and Billy Canary were because he was friends with those people and not because he was Alabama's House Speaker.

Hart took that head on and brought up countless examples in emails to show the jury that, yes, Hubbard is friends with these people, but it was also clear their relationships extended into the political world.

Hart highlighted Hubbard's interactions with Riley in emails and fired questions about help Hubbard gave to the former governor and his lobbying business, constantly referring to Riley as Hubbard's "friend, the lobbyist Bob Riley."

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