While this blog is totally devoted to politics and issues on the national level, there are major political problems that my state, Alabama, is experiencing. As a professional political blogger who holds herself out as politically astute, I do feel that I have an obligation to address what’s taking place in Alabama.
The heads of all three branches of state government have been charged with wrong-doing and all three are Republicans. At the May meeting of my Republican women’s club, Republican Women of the South, this issue was addressed. It is what it is, and we have to continue, in spite of the adversity we’re facing, continue to emphasize to voters that with respect to how we govern ourselves, the Republican ideology of governance, passed to us by the founding fathers of this great nation is the best way we have in this imperfect world of governing ourselves.
For those of you who are not familiar with our “situation,” the following are summaries. You can read them in their entirety, skim them, or skip over them.
SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE, MIKE HUBBARD (from yellowhammernews.com)
On Friday evening, June 10, 2016, Alabama House Speaker, Mike Hubbard, a Republican from Auburn, was convicted of 12 of 23 charges by a Lee County jury. The jury deliberated for seven hours on various charges to decide if Hubbard had used his office for personal gain.
According to yellowhammernews.com, the following are a few of the 13 charges for which Hubbard was convicted:
- Voting on legislation with a conflict of interest that would benefit American Pharmacy Cooperative, Inc., a consulting client.
- Receiving money from a principal, American Pharmacy Cooperative, Inc., through a consulting contract.
- Receiving money from a principal, Edgenuity, through a consulting contract.
- Using office for personal gain through a consulting contract with Capitol Cups, a business owned by Robert Abrams.
- Lobbying the state Department of Commerce for consulting client Robert Abrams.
- Using state personnel to benefit consulting client Robert Abrams.
For a complete list, visit http://yellowhammernews.com/politics-2/breaking-alabama-house-speaker-mike-hubbard-convicted/.
With his conviction, Hubbard was immediately removed from office per state law.
According to Alabama Attorney General, Luther Strange, “This kind of result would have never been achieved had our office not put together the finest public corruption unit in the country. I’m proud of their work. “This should send a clear message in Alabama we hold public officials accountable for their actions.
According to House Minority Leader, Craig Ford, a Democrat from Gadsden, “This is a dark say 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.”
GOVERNOR ROBERT BENTLEY (from al.com)
Diane Bentley, wife of Alabama Governor Robert Bentley for fifty years, filed for divorce from the governor in August 2015. It was said that Mrs. Bentley almost didn’t attend her husband’s inauguration in 2014 because of tensions between the two.
In the wake of the divorce, some Montgomery lawmakers questioned whether or not Bentley misused any state property in connection to a rumored affair with his chief advisor, Rebekah Caldwell Mason, who was Bentley’s former communications director before becoming his political advisor.
In addition to the details of the affair between Bentley and Mason, questions arose regarding the source of Mrs. Mason’s employment. In September 2015, Mrs. Mason was employed by the Alabama Council for Excellent Government, a 501(c)(4) set up to promote the governor’s political agenda. Thus, the governor’s senior political advisor not being a state employee, raised questions as to access and accountability in the Bentley administration.
On March 22, Spencer Collier the recently fired head of the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency, confirmed to al.com that he had seen evidence of an affair between Bentley and Mason. Collier had been dismissed from his job as ALEA chief of what he said was refusing to lie for Bentley. The governor said that investigations found improper use of resources at ALEA.
After Collier’s statement, Gov. Bentley held a press conference where he admitted making what he described as inappropriate comments to Mrs. Mason. While he and Mrs. Mason both denied a physical affair, leaked audio tapes revealed that the two were indeed having a physical affair.
A wave of ethics complaints, as well as calls for Bentley’s resignation, hit the governor after his confession of inappropriate comments. The Alabama Ethics Commission conformed it had assigned an investigator to look into any possible misconduct by the governor.
In addition to the foregoing, the role of Mrs. Mason’s husband, John, a former Tuscaloosa weatherman who was appointed the director of the Office of Faith Based Initiatives, now Serve Alabama, in 2011. An investigation by al.com indicates he has another job that provides services to the University of Alabama.
Even though Mrs. Mason resigned her position as political advisor on March 30, her move did little to quiet her critics.
ALABAMA SUPREME COURT JUSTICE, ROY MOORE (from atlantic.com)
An Alabama judicial oversight body has filed a formal complaint against Alabama Supreme Court Justice Roy Moore, charging that he had flagrantly disregarded and abused his authority in ordering the state’s probate judges to refuse applications for marriage licenses by same-sex couples.
Justice Moore was immediately suspended from the bench and faces a potential hearing before the state’s Court of the Judiciary, a panel of judges, lawyers, and other appointees.
For his orders, the Alabama Judicial Inquiry Commission charged Moore with six counts of violating judicial ethics.
Moore’s January 2016 order followed a complex legal battle over marriage equality in Alabama. First, a federal district court struck down Alabama’s bans on same sex marriages in February 2015, but stayed its ruling while the U.S. Supreme Court considered the issue in Obergefell vs. Hodges. The following month, the Alabama Supreme Court upheld the marriage bans in a separate case and ordered the probate judges in the state to comply with them.
After the U.S. Supreme Court issued its landmark ruling in Obergefell last June, the district court lifted the stay on its own ruling and blocked the probate judges from denying marriage licenses to same-sex couples.
Six months later, while the Alabama Supreme Court continued to deliberate, Moore intervened through his administrative role as the state’s chief justice and ordered the probate judges to enforce the marriage bans on January 6.
The Alabama Supreme Court eventually dismissed the case in March with a one sentence order, to which Moore attached a 94 page dissent in which he described Obergefell as “immoral, unconstitutional, and tyrannical.
Yes, this is embarrassing and I wish it wasn’t happening. My state is getting a black eye (so what else is new) and my chosen political party is getting a black eye. Folks are going to be talking about the Alabama GOP for years to come.
After many years of trying to convince voters to elect more Republicans to office, the Republicans took over the administrative, legislative, and judicial branches of state government. Their mantra was to rid the state of the political corruption that had plagued it for 136 years of Democrat rule. In less than a decade where Republicans were the majority partly in all three branches, corruption was again or still plaguing state government.
The private sector and the public sector are two completely different animals. Except for a six month stint at UAB, I have worked in the private sector for my entire career. However, having friends who work in the public sector, I’ve been able to pick up on those differences. With respect to government and private businesses, the two are run very differently. Many of the Democrats I know work in the public sector and you will generally find most public sector jobs filled by Democrats. The opposite is true for private sector jobs. Most private sector jobs, especially at middle and higher levels, are filled by Republicans. Many state government positions are not considered full time jobs. Many elected positions, especially in House of Representatives, have been filled by Republican business folks who now work in both the public and private sectors. There are things you can do as a business person that you can’t as a government worker. Could someone get things mixed up? I think it’s certainly possible.
Many professions in both the public and private sectors require that individuals in that profession adhere to codes of ethics. While I was in insurance claims, I earned the CPCU (Chartered Property & Casualty Underwriter). Part of earning this designation was studying ethics and adhering to a code of ethics. Ethics is not easy. It’s not common sense or doing what you think is right. You’re conscience can’t be your guide. You must know the codes and perform your job within the boundaries of those codes or you can find yourself in trouble.
The Republican run state of Alabama “ate its young.”
In addition to the above, it was a Republican run Attorney General’s office that prosecuted Mike Hubbard, producing the evidence against him to the jury and convinced the jury beyond the shadow of a doubt that Speaker Hubbard was guilty on 13 of 23 counts.
Also, keep in mind the Republican philosophy of governance…issues should be handled in the private sector or the lowest level of government possible. While the Republican Party is made up of individuals and some of those individuals may not be the most exemplary in character, less government and rugged individualism is by far the best method, as the course of history illustrates, of governing. Perhaps we should follow the teachings of the current president of the United States when he asked the American people not to judge all Muslims by the actions of a few. Don’t abandon the Republican way of governance just because of the actions of a few who happen to be concentrated in the state of Alabama.
In all seriousness, folks, this house cleaning happened just six years after the Republicans took over as the majority party in Alabama; whereas, the Democrats were the majority party for 136 years, and nothing like this took place. It’s time to start over and start afresh. For those who have aspirations to run for state office or any political office for that matter in the near or far future, make sure you know what you have to do to fulfill the responsibilities of your position.