OPELIKA, AL (WSFA) - Closing arguments started Thursday afternoon in Alabama House Speaker Mike Hubbard's ethics trial.
Deputy Attorney General Michael Duffy broke down the charges into four categories and used graphics to explain the state's case in detail. His focus was on what does and doesn't matter in this case.
Duffy said it doesn't matter that Hubbard's businesses did good work and that the money didn't go directly into Hubbard's pocket, and it doesn't matter whether private or public funds were involved or whether the things Hubbard did were good for the state.
"Did it go to his pocket, or did it go to his business? It's still illegal," Duffy stated.
He also said the loan and friendship exceptions in the ethics law don't matter because they don't apply.
"This is not about friendship, ladies and gentleman, this is about business between people who know each other… a $150,000 investment isn't a gift," Duffy told the jury.
What matters, Duffy said, is a business of Hubbard's received the money, Hubbard had conflicts of interest, he solicited things of value from lobbyists and he used his position to benefit his clients. These are all violations of the ethics laws, and the evidence shows that beyond a reasonable doubt, Duffy argued.
Duffy told the jury Hubbard wasn't "credible," pointing to inconsistencies in testimony from witnesses, and said Hubbard used his office for his economic development contract with the Southeast Alabama Gas District because that's the only thing he had to offer.
Duffy ended by reading a portion of the ethics laws that details the purpose behind the laws.
"This defendant ran all over this with his conduct. He didn't care about any of it. He has diminished the integrity of our government…because he wanted to make some money," Duffy said.
"He had a right to make money," Duffy said. "But not at our expense."
Defense attorney Lance Bell's approach to closing arguments was much different. He's also a less familiar face to the jury, having done little of the questioning of witnesses during the trial.
Bell spoke softly and casually to the jury, even sitting in the witness stand for a while, saying it was scary to sit through this trial and listen to the state's case. He accused the defense, who he referred to as "the government," of singling a citizen of Alabama out.
Bell attacked the state's expert witness, former Alabama Ethics Commission Director Jim Sumner. He said Sumner gave different interpretations of the ethics laws in the courtroom than he gave in opinions to Hubbard. He pointed to Sumner, who was in the audience in the courtroom, and told the jury the state's case would fall apart without Sumner's testimony.
"The only thing they've got is the guy in their pocket, Mr. Sumner, sitting right there with them," Bell said.
The state objected to the statement about Sumner, and the judge later told the juror to disregard it.
The state and defense were allotted two hours each for closing arguments to be used between Thursday and Friday. Duffy used about 85 minutes, and the defense used about half that time. They are both expected to continue with their arguments Friday.
The defense rested Thursday morning after calling Hubbard as their only witness.
Here is a summary of the 23 charges Hubbard is facing (a conviction on any count would lead to his automatic removal from office):
COUNT 1: Used position as chairman of the Alabama GOP to obtain money or business for Craftmaster Printers.
COUNT 2: Used his position as chairman of the Alabama GOP to obtain money or business for Auburn Network.
COUNT 3: Used his position as chairman of the Alabama GOP to obtain money for Craftmaster Printers (through Majority Strategies).
COUNT 4: Used his position as chairman of the Alabama GOP to obtain money for Auburn Network (through the Howe Group)
COUNT 5: As a member of the House voted for Senate Bill 143 and knew he had a conflict of interest
COUNT 6: As a member of the House solicited or received money from APCI from a lobbyist, subordinate of a lobbyist or principal (APCI)
COUNT 7: Used his position as a member of House to obtain money from SEAGD for Auburn Network
COUNT 8: As a member of the House received compensation from SEAGD to represent SEAGD before the Alabama Department of Commerce
COUNT 9: As a member of the House received compensation from SEAGD to represent SEAGD before the Governor
COUNT 10: As a member of the House solicited or received money from Edgenuity and/or E2020 for Auburn Network
COUNT 11: Used his position as a member of the House to obtain money from Robert Abrams (CV Holdings) for Auburn Network
COUNT 12: As a member of House received compensation from Robert Abrams (CV Holdings) to represent Abrams before the Alabama Department of Commerce
COUNT 13: As a member of the House received compensation from Robert Abrams (CV Holdings) to represent Abrams before the Governor
COUNT 14: As a member of the House used public property for the benefit of Robert Abrams for Hubbard's (Auburn Network's) financial interest
COUNT 15: As a member of the House solicited an investment in Craftmaster Printers from Dax Swatek (lobbyist)
COUNT 16: Solicited $150,000 investment in Craftmaster Printers from Will Brooke (Board Member of the Business Council of Alabama)
COUNT 17: Solicited $150,000 investment in Craftmaster Printers from James Holbrook (Sterne Agee Group)
COUNT 18: Solicited $150,000 investment in Craftmaster Printers from Jimmy Rane (President of Great Southern Wood)
COUNT 19: Solicited $150,000 investment in Craftmaster Printers from Robert Burton (President of Hoar Construction)
COUNT 20: Solicited assistance with obtaining new clients for Auburn Network from Bob Riley
COUNT 21: Solicited consulting assistance and support for Auburn Network from Minda Riley Campbell
COUNT 22: Solicited assistance with obtaining new clients for Auburn Network from Billy Canary.
COUNT 23: Solicited assistance with obtaining new clients for Auburn Network and/or financial advice regarding Craftmaster Printers from Will Brooke.