The Latest: Alabama House Speaker's former staff chief talks

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Posted: May 25, 2016 4:34 PM
The Latest: Alabama House Speaker's former staff chief talks

OPELIKA, Ala. (AP) — The Latest on the ethics trial of Alabama Speaker Mike Hubbard (all times local):

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3:30 p.m.

The former chief of staff for the Alabama House Speaker Mike Hubbard has testified in the ethics trial of his former boss.

Josh Blades testified Wednesday that he was upset and concerned about "legal implications" after learning that language added to a 2013 budget bill could have benefited one of Hubbard's clients.

Blades said he learned later that a group that would get the work was paying Hubbard through a consulting contract. The language was stripped in conference committee.

Blades also said he was uncomfortable because he thought the speaker meant money when Hubbard told him he had "one hundred thousand reasons" to help a company with a patent application. That company was a client of Hubbard's.

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12:15 p.m.

The ethics trial of Alabama House Speaker Mike Hubbard is turning to language in a state budget bill that prosecutors say could have benefited his clients.

It was an amendment that set requirements for any pharmacy benefit manager that might be hired by the state Medicaid Agency. Alabama's Medicaid commissioner has said the state agency did not request that language.

At the time, the American Pharmacy Cooperative Inc. had Hubbard on a $5,000-a-month consulting contract, but he did not recuse himself from voting.

The clerk of the Alabama House of Representatives testified Wednesday that Hubbard voted for the amendment as part of a 2013 budget bill that passed 83-15. A conference committee later stripped the language.

Prosecutors have accused Hubbard of using his political positions to make money and obtain financial favors from people with business before the Alabama Legislature. Defense lawyers say the transactions were proper.

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11:00 a.m.

A former business associate says Alabama House Speaker Mike Hubbard had consulting contracts worth tens of thousands of dollars each month with several companies, but he was unsure what Hubbard did for the money.

Testimony is continuing Wednesday in Hubbard's ethics trial. Chris Hines, a former vice-president at Hubbard's broadcast and publishing company, the Auburn Network, testified he didn't know what Hubbard did for the companies. Hines testified that one check had a notation for "lobbying."

Prosecutors are accusing Hubbard of using his political positions to make money and solicit financial favors from people with business before the Alabama Legislature. His defense argues that the transactions were proper.

Under cross-examination, Hines noted the contracts specified that Hubbard would not do in-state work so to not run afoul of ethics laws.

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10:00 a.m.

Testimony has resumed in the ethics trial of Alabama House Speaker Mike Hubbard. Hubbard's business partner testified Wednesday that their printing company was deeply in debt. Barry Whatley says they came up with a plan to seek new investments of $150,000 each from wealthy individuals to pay off debt.

Whatley said the nine owners of Craftmaster would be responsible for the debt if it couldn't be paid.

Hubbard is accused of using his position as GOP chairman and house speaker to generate $2.3 million in work and investments for his companies. His defense has argued that all the transactions were within bounds of the state ethics law.

On cross-examination, Whatley said Craftmaster had a good reputation and that Hubbard did not seek to be paid a commission on the Alabama Republican Party campaign work that came to the company.

Hubbard draws a salary of about $54,000 as a legislator speaker of the house.

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4:32 a.m.

Prosecutors and defense lawyers are offering jurors opposing views of Alabama House speaker Mike Hubbard as he stands trial on felony ethics charges.

Prosecutors told jurors in opening statements Tuesday that Hubbard made some $2.3 million illegally off his elected office and past chairmanship of the Alabama GOP.

But the defense argues that Hubbard was scrupulously honest, even asking for an ethics opinion before accepting money as a consultant.

Two lobbyists who once served as executive directors of the state party took the witness stand first for the state, and prosecutors say they'll continue calling more witnesses Wednesday.

Hubbard would be removed from office automatically if convicted on even one of 23 charges accusing him of using the speakership and GOP chairmanship for personal financial gain.