OPELIKA, Ala. (AP) — State prosecutors are urging a judge to deny former Alabama House Speaker Mike Hubbard’s request for early release from prison, arguing his “belated apology” for his ethics conviction is not enough.
In a Wednesday court filing, the state attorney general’s office opposed Hubbard’s request for release from prison after serving a year of his 28-month sentence. In seeking early release, Hubbard wrote a letter to the judge apologizing for his conviction. Several community figures, including Heisman Trophy winner Bo Jackson, wrote letters supporting his release.
The state wrote that Hubbard’s apology is a good thing, “but it is not a basis for early release.”
“It is a positive step that Hubbard recognizes that his crimes harmed society as a whole. But he is wrong to think the best way to repair that harm is for the Court to release the very man who caused it after he has served less than half his sentence. By Hubbard’s logic, a remorseful arsonist should be released early if he expresses the desire to rebuild the home he burned down,” state lawyers wrote.
Several community figures wrote letters to the judge supporting Hubbard’s release, including Jackson and Opelika Mayor Gary Fuller. Hubbard worked on the 1985 Heisman campaign for Jackson and Jackson called Hubbard “one of my closest and most loyal friends.”
“There is absolutely no benefit to the citizens of Alabama for Mike to be incarcerated and forced to be non-productive,” Jackson wrote.
Hubbard’s attorney argued his sentence of over two years behind bars is out of line with punishments handed down to other officials convicted of violating the state ethics law. “My conviction has severely damaged and embarrassed me and and my family, friends, former constituents, community, church, the legislature and the state of Alabama. For this, I am severely sorry and respectfully ask forgiveness from everyone affected,” Hubbard wrote to Lee County Circuit Judge Jacob Walker.
The Republican was one of the state’s most powerful politicians until the ethics conviction in a corruption case ended his political career. Hubbard, the architect of the GOP’s takeover of the Alabama Legislature in 2010, was a legislator from Auburn and former chairman of the Alabama Republican Party. He was elected House speaker soon after Republicans won control of both legislative chambers.
A jury in 2016 convicted Hubbard of violating the state ethics law, including using his public office for personal financial gain. Prosecutors accused Hubbard of leveraging his powerful public office to obtain clients and investments for his businesses, violating the prohibition against giving a “thing of value” to an elected official.
During the trial, his defense maintained the contracts were legitimate work and unrelated to his position as House speaker.