By Wayne Ruple –
HEFLIN, Ala. — Standing only 26 miles from the Alabama-Georgia state line, a candidate for Attorney General told a crowd in Heflin recently, “Right now Alabamians are funding the education of Georgia’s children, funding the education of Tennessee’s children, funding the education of Florida’s children. Now in my opinion it’s only prudent to allow those folks who choose to participate in a lottery, ask that they have the option of doing so in Alabama so we can fund the education of our children.”
The candidate, state Representative Joe Hubbard, made his comments to a crowd gathered at the Cleburne County Democratic Headquarters in Heflin.
Cleburne County’s eastern edge adjoins the state of Georgia and residents have watched as locals and others from throughout Alabama make regular pilgrimages just across the state line to purchase lottery tickets.
Hubbard is not a newcomer to Alabama politics. His family has a long political history in the state. Hubbard himself is the great-grandson of Alabama’s former U.S. Senator Lister Hill, who was elected in 1937 to serve in Washington and went on to be instrumental in helping pass the Rural Electrification Act and Rural Telephone Act, which helped Alabama and other rural parts of the country gain access to electricity and telephones.
“Alabama was a third world country,” said Hubbard as he pointed out that the state had no electricity or telephones in the homes.
Hubbard noted that his great-grandfather also co-authored the Hill-Burton Act that brought hospitals to under-served areas of the nation.
“We didn’t have hospitals – there were only five hospitals in the whole state in 1956 when the Hill-Burton Act was passed,” Hubbard noted.
He said his father was a doctor who recalled many times picking up patients off train platforms were they waited on stretchers with tags on their toes after having traveled for days just to get medical care.
At the early age of 29 Hubbard was elected to the Alabama House of Representatives in 2010 after having graduated from Huntington College and receiving a law degree from Cumberland School of Law.
During his first year as a State Representative, he sponsored legislation to strengthen ethics and campaign finance laws and for those accomplishments he was named “Freshman Legislator of the Year.”
He was, in that year, the only Democrat in Alabama to unseat a Republican incumbent.
But during his past four years in Montgomery, Hubbard has not been impressed.
“If you want to feel a little less good about the state of our state and about the quality of our people in this state then go down to the legislature because its a sobering experience,” he said. “We can do better and we want to do better.”
With a strong desire to continue the family tradition of public service, Hubbard points to his own son and the other children of the state who inspire him to seek the office of attorney general.
“If not me, who? If not now, when? That is the ultimate question,” he said.
Also pointing to a state legislature out of control, Hubbard said that the only office which can hold them accountable is that of the attorney general.
“Our attorney general has dropped the ball. He has not stepped up to the plate. He has not taken on the responsibility. He has shrugged his duties,” Hubbard said of Attorney General Luther Strange. In “every major corruption investigation in the state of Alabama in the past four years, he has recused himself,” Hubbard said, while adding that the attorney general is involved with those under investigation.
Citing a grand jury probe in Montgomery County now looking at questionable payments made by four-year public institutions to elected officials, Hubbard said his Republican opponent Luther Strange can’t look into the allegations, “because he’s involved with those already under investigation.”
“In Lee County,” He added, “they’re investigating the top ranks of the Republican leadership for public corruption … and our attorney general says ‘no, I can’t investigate these boys.’ What message does that send to the young people when the state’s top law enforcement official won’t hold other public officials to account?”
“Where’s Luther when it comes to crime,” Hubbard asks, “meth labs, heroin rings, human trafficking?
“His main desire is to run little ole ladies out of bingo parlors. Our attorney general has much greater responsibility in the state of Alabama, to serve the people of this state instead of waging a useless and senseless war on bingo. All the time, the money, the manpower he’s wasting on this war on bingo is time, money and manpower that he has lost focusing on fighting crime, prosecuting corruption and not fought on defending victims and their families.
“Our attorney general needs to spend less time worrying about what our people are doing on their on time, and money and morals and worrying about how he can better protect the people of this state,” Hubbard said. “There are more people killed in Alabama by those high on drugs than those high on bingo.”
As examples of some of Strange’s shenanigans, Hubbard said Strange sees himself as above the law and is hiding something
Hubbard said a Strange staffer got a job in Washington. D.C. with a political organization as executive director, “and in that capacity she’s funneling him out of state gambling money in violation of Alabama law and when he got caught red-handed he says he gave the money back. But folks, the money is still missing. When he’s not fighting corruption, he is involved in it. It sends the wrong message when our attorney general is the one breaking campaign finance laws and he refuses to investigate because he doesn’t want to get caught.”
Questioned about his thoughts regarding Alabama’s new voter/photo ID law, Hubbard said the Republican legislators in Montgomery were unable to provide him one example of fraud at the ballot box. He said they passed the law “looking for a problem.”
© 2014, Glynn Wilson. All rights reserved.