Prosecutors says Hubbard has made a lot of money in public office…
A lobbyist said Tuesday that his company handled what state prosecutors are calling illegal transactions between the Alabama Republican Party and indicted Speaker of the House Mike Hubbard, on the first day of Hubbard’s felony ethics trial.
Tim Howe, a lobbyist and partner with the Montgomery-based political consultant firm Swatek, Azbell, Howe and Ross, told attorneys that the Alabama Republican Party paid money to his intermediary media buying firm The Howe Group, which in turn wrote checks to Network Creative Media — an affiliate of Hubbard’s consulting firm, the Auburn Network — while Hubbard was the party’s chairman.
Howe’s firm, in exchange for handling the payments, received a 5 percent cut. Howe said he was unsure why the payments were handled as they were, though prosecutors previously said it was done to hide the fact that the party was paying Hubbard’s company.
“I know I got 5 percent. I don’t know how that got handled on either end,” he said.
Howe was the prosecution’s second witness. His business partner and former ALGOP executive John Ross took the stand about an hour before Howe on Tuesday afternoon.
Ross was questioned by Deputy Attorney General John Gibbs and lead defense attorney Bill Baxley about his knowledge of ALGOP payments to Craftmaster Printers, of which Hubbard holds partial interest, while Hubbard served as chairman.
Ross said he and others knew of Hubbard’s affiliation with the business, but decided to use it anyway for its low rates and reputable quality. He said the companies did a good job, from what he could recall, and that the party had used Craftmaster in the past before Hubbard served as chairman.
Special Prosecutor Matt Hart, in opening arguments Tuesday morning, accused Hubbard of funneling $961,431 to Craftmaster and the Auburn Network.
It happened in the Statehouse, just as the Legislature was about to vote on the state budget, a budget that included a clause that would greatly benefit Hubbard’s client, APCI.
Hubbard has pleaded not guilty to 23 felony ethics charges issued by a special grand jury in Lee County in October 2014.
The partners were summoned. A meeting was called with Hubbard’s chief of staff, and hands were wrung all around.
And what were they concerned about, prosecutor John Gibbs asked?
And then came the line:
“It could present ethics problems for all of us,” Howe said.
And the jury heard that. Loud and clear. This was a guy who just admitted setting up a company with his partners to hide money for Hubbard, who admitted taking a percentage just because he could. And he was the one worried about ethics.
He didn’t recall everything that was said in that meeting at the statehouse on the night the budget was passed. But he knew the gist of it:
“This is a problem.”
It was a bigger problem when Hubbard voted for the budget, even though it had that nugget for his client – a phrase that would give APCI a monopoly over Medicaid prescriptions in Alabama — buried inside. The language was later stripped out in conference committee, but the damage – at least the way prosecutors see it – was done.
The investigation into Gov. Robert Bentley, and the fallout of his relationship with former adviser Rebekah Caldwell Mason, is apparently moving to the grand jury.
A letter sent by a federal prosecutor to lawyers of people who have been questioned by the FBI in the Bentley affair, explains that George Beck, U.S. Attorney in Alabama’s Middle District, recused himself from the investigation. He has been replaced on the case by a U.S. Attorney from Georgia.
Jonathan Ross, assistant U.S. Attorney in the Middle District, wrote the letter under the subject “Grand Jury Investigation.” The note is the first evidence that Bentley’s relationship with Mason or his attempts to hide that relationship is being examined by a grand jury.
It has already been made clear that investigators from the FBI, the IRS, the U.S. Postal Service and state agencies have begun asking questions of former Bentley staffers, executive security officers and others who were at one time close to the governor.
Since 2003, said Westbook, the church commissioned two different studies to determine the best way to fix it.
“The conclusion of both,” he said, “was that it’s unrepairable.”
The church has been almost unanimous in the fact that we have to do something.
The studies found multiple points of failure, including in the tiles themselves, which are machine-made pressed glass, about the size of a thumbnail. They don’t have enough surface area for proper bonding to the surface of the building. The tiles were bonded to some sort of netting with an epoxy that didn’t work well with the smooth substrate wall – another point of failure, as the wall was too smooth to bond well with the cement.
“The church has been almost unanimous in the fact that we have to do something,” said Westbrook.
Earlier this month, the church voted overwhelmingly in favor of replacing the mosaic entirely – and making the new mosaic as close to the original work as possible.
“We wanted to respect those who created it,” said Westbrook.
“There was a lot of discussion” around whether to faithfully recreate the current mosaic or design something different, said Westbrook.
“Some view the mosaic one way and some another. But we think the common foundation for everyone here is what we started with.”
It will be the same, and yet not the same. The trustees have spent the better part of a year meeting with experts and potential contractors before coming up with a plan.
The new Cosmic Christ will be constructed from 4.3 million blown glass tiles, hand-cut in Italy by the Barsanti Marble Bronze Mosaic company. The original mosaic had just 1.4 million tiles.
CNN has a chyron that says, “It’s getting ugly”, this morning.
Where have these people been?
Reminder, this isn’t Trump people, this is liberals who demand he be silenced.
Donald Trump returned to the campaign trail with a force Tuesday, veering away from his recent calls for party unity to attack New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez, a rising star Republican and frequent critic of his campaign, as a poor leader who hasn’t done enough to stem economic problems in her state.
“You’ve got to get your governor to do a better job. She’s not doing her job,” Trump said at a convention center here, at one point joking that “maybe” he should run for New Mexico governor.
The presumptive Republican presidential nominee also argued Martinez has put her state at risk by accepting Syrian refugees in New Mexico.
“Syrian refugees are being relocated in large numbers to New Mexico. If I was governor, that wouldn’t be happening,” Trump said, renewing his push for a temporary ban on refugees. He urged greater vetting and control of refugees, warning the alternative is “we are not going to have a country.”
Trump’s comments came as Martinez, who is currently head of the Republican Governors Association, has notably declined to say if she will endorse him as the GOP nominee. She and other state Republican leaders were no-shows at Trump’s raucous rally here Tuesday — his first campaign visit to New Mexico — which was repeatedly interrupted by protesters both inside and outside the venue.
Smart. And, as usual, completely off base…
Mike Lonergan, Martinez’s press secretary, responded to Trump’s attacks in a statement late Tuesday night: “Apparently, Donald Trump doesn’t realize Governor Martinez wasn’t elected in 2000, that she has fought for welfare reform, and has strongly opposed the President’s Syrian refugee plan. But the pot shots weren’t about policy, they were about politics. And the Governor will not be bullied into supporting a candidate until she is convinced that candidate will fight for New Mexicans. Governor Martinez doesn’t care about what Donald Trump says about her – she cares about what he says he will do to help New Mexicans. She didn’t hear anything about that today.”
Martinez is the nation’s first Latina governor, and New Mexico’s first female governor. She is considered a rising star in the Republican Party and is frequently mentioned as a possible vice-presidential candidate.
Meanwhile, Paul Ryan will endorse Trump for some reason…
It’s unclear when the endorsement will take place, but Ryan has a briefing on the House GOP agenda scheduled later today in Washington.
Ryan spokeswoman AshLee Strong, when asked today whether Speaker Ryan is preparing to endorse Trump, said, “There’s no update and we’ve not told the Trump campaign to expect an endorsement.”
It has been widely reported that Trump and Ryan haven’t seen eye to eye on several issues.
The Wisconsin Republican has frequently condemned Trump’s campaign, including his proposed temporary ban of Muslim immigration, which Trump has since called a “suggestion,” and Trump’s initial resistance in denouncing the Ku Klux Klan after former grand wizard David Duke said he supported Trump.
Why? Who knows.
Sweden has a terrible idea and Americans will love this.
Most Europeans support the idea of a “basic income” paid to every individual to cover their basic needs, according to the first EU-wide survey on the subject. Governments would pay the same amount of money to each person, regardless of whether they work.
The poll, conducted by German company Dalia Research in April, was the first EU-wide survey to address the proposal of a basic income, defined in the poll as “an income unconditionally paid by the government to every individual regardless of whether they work and irrespective of any other sources of income.”
The preliminary results found that about 58 percent of respondents were aware of the idea of a basic income, and 64 percent would vote in favor of the policy in a referendum.
Let me understand this… In America: The 18-year-old fast food employee wants the government to force his employer to provide them 15 dollars an hour, healthcare, overtime and NOW they also want paid time off too?
I can’t wait until American voters get wind of a guaranteed income.
Internet tough guys being bullied by an Internet tough guy with more money…
Mark Cuban is just the sort of VP pick that could soothe the deep uneasiness Democrats ought to feel.
Cuban is not Sarah Palin, “the last looks-great-on-paper maverick running for vice president,” as my colleague Peter Weber put it. Cuban is a smart and savvy businessman who can talk about the modern American economy at least as well as any professional politician. And while he’s certainly outspoken — that’s part of his charisma — he’s also well spoken. None of that infamous Palin word salad from him. Plus, the Trump phenomenon suggests few voters prioritize deep Washington experience or policy chops. (Have they ever, really?)
Cuban is super-rich, and maybe that’s a problem for Democrats obsessed with inequality. But, again, Trump’s success suggests a huge chunk of voters can be persuaded to view that as a feature, not a bug. And Cuban is hardly the poster boy for inherited wealth. His father wasn’t worth $400 million like Fred Trump. Cuban is a guy from a middle-class Pennsylvania family who made it big through his own entrepreneurial efforts. That’s a great American story, whether you’re a Democrat or Republican or independent.
It’s hardly a stretch that a ticket with Cuban, owner of the Dallas Mavericks and possessor of more than a bit of smash-mouth swagger, might do far better among men than Clinton-Warren or Clinton-Some-Quite-Pleasant-Male-Cabinet-Secretary. Right now, Clinton’s huge edge with women is equally balanced out by a huge gap with men.
Clinton-Cuban also might be a bit more palatable for all those Republicans or lean-Republicans who despise Trump and really, really don’t want to vote for Hillary or leave the presidential box unchecked. After all, Cuban has expressed concern about the national debt and about government regulation hurting innovation, even recently writing an essay on the latter issue for the George W. Bush Institute. (Indeed, some #NeverTrumpers tried to get Cuban to run third party.) Cuban might even allow Democrats to peel off some Trump voters. Like Trump, Cuban is an outsider who supposedly “tells it like it.” Indeed, cartoonist Scott Adams — who uncannily predicted Trump’s continuing success — has mentioned Cubanas the perfect veep for Trump. Basically, Cuban is Trump without all the bigotry … and without the insane policies … and with probably more dough.
Six months ago, Mark Cuban on either major party ticket might have seemed like a crazy idea. It was only the last election, after all, that America rejected a super-rich businessman. But times are changing fast. Kanye West 2020 is looking more realistic by the moment.
Now college students want bad grades demolished…
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