Jury finds Mike Hubbard guilty on 12 counts in ethics trial

Mike Hubbard and wife Susan Hubbard walk to the Lee County Justice Center for day three of trial on Thursday, May 26, 2016 in Opelika, Ala. Todd J. Van Emst/Opelika-Auburn News/Pool Photo

OPELIKA, Ala. (WIAT/AP) — A verdict has been reached by the jury; they have found Mike Hubbard guilty on 12 of 23 counts in the ethics trial.

Hubbard’s conviction means he has immediately lost his position as House Speaker, as well as his House seat.

The jury found him guilty on one count of legislator conflict of interest, eight counts of lobbying for personal gain, one count of use of position for personal gain, and two counts of legislator illegal fees.

“We hope this verdict tonight restores some of the confidence in the people of the state of Alabama that public officials at all levels in the state of Alabama will be held accountable for their actions, especially those that would betray the public trust,” said W. Van Davis, the acting attorney general in the case.

Mike Hubbard looks over at his wife Susan Hubbard while Lee County sheriffs deputies wait to take Hubbard into custody after found guilty on 12 of 23 counts on Friday, June 10, 2016 in Opelika, Ala. Todd J. Van Emst/Opelika-Auburn News/Pool
Mike Hubbard looks over at his wife Susan Hubbard while Lee County sheriffs deputies wait to take Hubbard into custody after found guilty on 12 of 23 counts on Friday, June 10, 2016 in Opelika, Ala.
Todd J. Van Emst/Opelika-Auburn News/Pool

Speaker Pro Tempore Victor Gaston, R-Mobile, will take over the duties of House Speaker and serve as the Acting Speaker of the House. In the next legislative session, regular or special, state representatives will elect another House Speaker. House of Representatives spokesperson Clay Redden says the governor will have to call a special election to fill the vacant House seat.

The jury, which arrived at the verdict after nearly seven hours of deliberation, acquitted Hubbard on 11 other counts.

Prosecutors accused Hubbard of using his political offices as speaker and as former chairman of the Alabama Republican Party to try to obtain $2.3 million in work and investments. The charges included that he directed GOP campaign work to his printing company; solicited investments and help to find employment from lobbyists and company executives; and used the power of his office to benefit his clients through legislative action or lobbying the governor’s office.

Hubbard since his indictment in 2014 had steadfastly maintained his innocence. His defense argued that the transactions were legal and within the bounds of the state ethics law and its exemptions for normal business dealings and friendships. His defense noted that the transactions involved people who were longtime friends.

Mike Hubbard stands and awaits directions from Lee County deputies on Friday, June 10, 2016 in Opelika, Ala. Todd J. Van Emst/Opelika-Auburn News/Pool
Mike Hubbard stands and awaits directions from Lee County deputies on Friday, June 10, 2016 in Opelika, Ala.
Todd J. Van Emst/Opelika-Auburn News/Pool

Alabama lawmakers have started issuing statements.

Attorney General Luther Strange says:

“This is a good day for the rule of law in our state. This kind of result would never have been achieved had our office not put together the finest public corruption unit in the country. I’m very proud of their work. This should send a clear message that in Alabama we hold public officials accountable for their actions.”

House minority leader Craig Ford says:

 “This is a dark day for Alabama. Mike Hubbard led Republicans to a supermajority on a platform of cleaning up corruption in Montgomery. But instead of cleaning up corruption, Mike Hubbard and the Republican leadership in all three branches of our government have embraced corruption. They have forgotten they are supposed to serve the people, and not the other way around.”

Acting Speaker Victor Gaston, R-Mobile, says:

“The Alabama House is not defined by the actions of any one member, it is defined by the motto that appears on the wall of our Chamber, “Vox Populi,” which means “Voice of the People.”  This incident, no matter how regrettable, offers strong proof that the ethics reforms passed by the Legislature in 2010 remain among the toughest in the nation.  I know that every House member, regardless of party, will keep Mike Hubbard and his family in our prayers as he begins this next, most difficult chapter in his life.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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