OPELIKA, Ala. (AP) — Jury selection began Monday in the ethics trial of the Alabama House speaker, who stands accused of using his public office to enrich his private businesses.
Republican House Speaker Mike Hubbard faces removal from office if convicted of any of 23 felony ethics charges.
The high-profile trial comes as two other top elected officials in Alabama face scandal or accusations of wrongdoing. Chief Justice Roy Moore has been suspended from the bench over accusations that he violated judicial ethics by trying to block same-sex weddings, despite the U.S. Supreme Court decision effectively legalizing gay marriage. Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley has faced calls for his impeachment following a scandal involving his relationship with a former aide.
Some of the most prominent names in state politics and business are expected to be called as prosecution witnesses in Hubbard's corruption trial, including Gov. Bentley, former Gov. Bob Riley and many Alabama lawmakers.
Hubbard is accused of using his political office as speaker and past position as chairman of the Alabama Republican Party to benefit his clients and his printing and consulting businesses, either through legislative action, lobbying the governor's office, soliciting new clients and investments or steering campaign printing business his way.
Hubbard has maintained his innocence and said the transactions were proper.
Lee County Circuit Judge Jacob Walker is presiding. On Monday he began questioning nearly 100 prospective jurors for the trial. Opening statements are anticipated next week.