After nearly three weeks of testimony from witnesses including high-profile names such as Gov. Robert Bentley, former Gov. Bob Riley, Senate President Pro Tem Del Marsh, the defense rested its case against Alabama House Speaker Mike Hubbard Thursday morning after calling but one witness — Hubbard himself.
Hubbard spent little more than an hour Thursday morning testifying, hoping to prove his innocence.
Early Thursday, prosecutor Matt Hart brought up an email Hubbard sent to Michael Mitchell, a Publix representative, asking to set up a meeting about Capitol Cups – a company Hubbard had a consulting contract with that paid $10,000 a month.
In the email, Hart told the courtroom that Hubbard called Capital Cups a constituent and even signed the email with his Alabama House Speaker title. The defense argued this was an automatically generated email signature.
Hart prodded Hubbard, asking if he mentioned in the email to Mitchell that he was working as a consultant for Capital Cups.
“No sir. Didn’t think it was relevant,” Hubbard replied.
Hubbard went on to testify that Mitchell was a friend who sadly died a few years ago of an aneurysm.
Hart quickly pointed out that Mitchell must not have been that good of a friend, as he just spoke with him a few days ago.
“Well I must have him confused with someone else,” Hubbard explained to the courtroom.
That was the last thing he was asked on the stand.
Closing arguments got underway in Hubbard’s trial shortly before 3 p.m. with the Deputy Attorney General Mike Duffy presenting for the prosecution and finishing in roughly an hour and a half.
Duffy’s main argument was Hubbard’s actions clearly violated the Alabama Ethics Law, saying that Hubbard “knew where the line was, and he crossed it.”
“The cornerstone of the ethics law is that public officials should not be able to make money off their offices,” said Duffy.
Hubbard “diminished the integrity of our government … because he wanted to make some money,” Duffy continued arguing that while chair of the Alabama Republican Party Hubbard intentionally directed business to his companies Craftmaster Printers and the Auburn Network.
“What matters is he asked for something he’s not allowed to ask for, and he took things he’s not allowed to take,” Duffy said before he asked the jury to told Hubbard accountable.
“I’m going to ask you to find this defendant accountable and find him guilty,” he said.
Next attorney Lance Bell began the closing arguments for the defense, where he made it roughly 45 minutes of the allotted two hours. He will wrap-up Friday morning.
Hubbard was indicted in October 2013 on 23 felony ethics charges of using his political office for personal gain.
If convicted, he faces a maximum penalty of two to 20 years incarceration and fines of up to $30,000 for each count. He would be removed from office if convicted of any of the 23 charges.
Hubbard has since maintained his innocence and continued to serve as Speaker of the Alabama House during the 2016 legislative session.