MONTGOMERY, AL (wsfa) - WSFA 12 News is gathering reaction from many state officials at this hour after learning of the death of former Governor Guy Hunt.
Guy Hunt 's election as governor was unusual to say the least. The history books will remember the unusual beginning and unfortunate end of his political career. A stalwart Republican dating back to the early 60's, Hunt benefited from a rift in the Democratic party during the 1986 gubernatorial election.
Unhappy Democrats showed their displeasure by electing the little known GOP candidate from Cullman County. He was the first Republican governor since 1872.
Governor Hunt enjoyed some early successes with the legislature when the lawmakers passed a number of bills he submitted. He championed industrial recruitment and constantly promoted the Republican party in the state.
In 1987 U.S. News and World report named him one of the country's best governors.
Hunt ran for re-election in 1990, against Democrat Paul Hubbert, the politically savvy head of the powerful Alabama Education Association. Hunt won with 52 percent of the vote.
In his 1991 inaugural address Hunt spoke of the challenges facing the state and the need for education reform.
Shortly after that inauguration, things started to go badly for him, however. The State Ethics Commission began an investigation into his use of state airplanes to fly to religious events where he was given "love offerings." During that investigation, prosecutors revealed that Hunt had used $200,000 of inaugural funds for his personal use.
In April 1993, Hunt was tried, convicted and forced to leave office. He was the first governor in state history to be removed from office. The judge sentenced him to five years probation and a $211,000 fine, though he did not require jail time. Lt. Governor Jim Folsom, Jr. became governor serving the remaining 20 months of Hunt 's term.
In 1998, Hunt received a full pardon when sympathetic Alabamians donated more than $200,000 to repay his fine and court costs.
In the years following Hunt lived a quiet life in his home town of Holly Pond in Cullman County making limited public appearances.
Several years ago, hunt was diagnosed with the lung cancer that eventually lead to his death.
Hunt died in a Birmingham hospital around 3pm Friday at the age of 75.
Governor Bob Riley issues statement:
Governor Riley has ordered all flags on state buildings to be lowered to half-staff to honor the former governor.
Lt. Governor Jim Folsom, Jr. issues statement:
Attorney General Troy King issues statement -
Steve Feaga ( Prosecuting attorney in Hunt's trial) -
Emory Folmar ( Frmr. Montgomery mayor / Republican Party Finance Dir. & Chairman) -