Mike Hubbard trial day 5: Hubbard didn’t seek approval before making deals, former ethics chief testifies

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In the long-awaited trial of indicted Alabama House Speaker Mike Hubbard, more than 20 witnesses were called during the first four days of trial last week.

Fellow legislators, business partners, politicians and state executives testified about their knowledge of Hubbard’s actions, providing testimony for many of the 23 charges Hubbard faces.

The state endeavors to prove Hubbard used his office for personal gain and used his position as Speaker of the House, and formerly as chair of the Alabama Republican Party, to solicit jobs and investments in businesses with which he was involved.

A conviction on any one of the charges would remove the speaker from office.

The charges carry potential sentences of two to 20 years and fines of up to $30,000 for each count.

The trial resumed Tuesday after the long Memorial Day weekend as prosecutors called Jon Sanderson, a financial officer for investment firm Sterne Agee from 2012 until March 2016.

Sanderson testified to writing a check in November 2012 to Hubbard’s company Craftmaster on behalf of the Sterne Agee Group for $150,000, explaining he was instructed by CEO Jim Holbrook to write the check during a meeting.

“During the meeting, Mr. Holbrook slid a piece of paper over to me that had Craftmaster Inc. written on it and he whispered to me that he needed a check written for $150,000 right then,” Sanderson explained.

Sanderson said the incident was “not totally out of the ordinary.”

Mike Hubbard trial_Jim Sumner testifies

Jim Sumner on the witness stand Tuesday, May 31, 2016. [Photo Credit: AP, Pool | Todd Van Emst]

Later in the morning, former Ethics Commission Director Jim Sumner was an expert witness on the ethics law.

Sumner testified that Hubbard did not notify or seek advice from the Alabama Ethics Commission regarding consulting contracts he held with the American Pharmacy Cooperative Inc., Edgenuity and Capitol Cups.

“I did not know about those companies until I saw the indictment,” Sumner said of Hubbard’s contracts with Edgenuity and Capitol Cups.

Next, executive vice president of the online learning company, Edgenuity, Michael Humphrey, testified part of the reason his company hired Hubbard as a consultant was due to his position as a lawmaker.

“I would say part of the reason was that he’s a legislator,” said Humphrey. “He was a legislator with the ability to work outside Alabama. I wanted to take advantage of his relationships.”

Humphrey clarified the company never intended to use Hubbard’s consulting services within the state of Alabama.

The trial continues Wednesday.

Witnesses expected on Wednesday:

  • Billy Canary: Business Council of Alabama president and CEO
  • Dax Swatek: lobbyist
  • Bob Riley: former governor of Alabama
  • Minda Riley Campbell: daughter of former Gov. Bob Riley
  • Robert Bentley: Governor of Alabama
  • Greg Canfield: Department of Commerce secretary

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