This last week my news and social media feeds were full of opinions and images about the Brock Turner rape case. Beyond the absurdly light sentence the biggest issue was the disgusting lack of self-awareness and responsibility that Turner and his father showed for his actions.
While I’m not comparing the crime of rape to the crime of corruption, the issue of accepting personal responsibility for illegal actions that affect others is the same.
The two questions I pose today: Will former Speaker, convicted felon, Mike Hubbard accept the jury’s decisions of his guilt or like Brock Turner does he continue to make excuses and rationalizations for his behavior? Secondly, if he refuses to take responsibility, will the public continue to hold him and those who continue to support him accountable? Keep in mind that post indictments House Republicans voted 59-8 (with two members not voting) to keep him as Speaker.
Since the beginning of the investigation, through the time since the indictments have come down (October 2014), Hubbard has blamed countless people for his predicament and maintained that he did nothing wrong. He went so far as even to blame the ethics law he wrote, passed, then later broke as flawed. Even when hundreds of emails were released that showed him in his own words in black and white soliciting work and bemoaning the law he continued to maintain his innocence and play the part of the victim.
Will he (and so you know I suspect he will) show no remorse for his actions or their ramifications, which will be many? Will he finally admit that his actions will have lasting consequences for the institution of the state legislature, the Republican Party, those who supported him and those who came before and will come after him in the role of Speaker?
I’m constantly amazed by the way people throw around the fact that politicians throughout the state — and especially in Montgomery (though the City of Birmingham comes in a close second regarding the constant complaints) — are corrupt. It is because of actions and cases like these that so many people have such a negative opinion of an entire system that discounts the true statesmen who serve selflessly and honorably. Beyond the corruption itself it, is the continuation of this stigma that creates additional victims and places an undue burden on the legislative body as a whole.
If Hubbard gets to the sentencing hearing and maintains his innocence, do the people of Alabama continue to hold him accountable for his crimes? Will the media and Facebook call him out the way they have called out Turner? While a violent crime against an individual and a crime of ethics against the state are very different, the fact is a crime was committed, a jury found a defendant guilty, and the victims deserve respect and closure. In Hubbard’s crimes, the people and the state were victims, as he used his position as the Speaker of the House for his personal gain and it is the people who deserve for him to show up at his sentencing hearing and finally do the right thing.
The sentencing is July 8, 2016. Hopefully between now and then Hubbard decides to do the right thing finally. Hopefully, the recent public outrage over a lack of responsibility will motivate him to articulate some remorse and regret for his actions.