By Christine Mai-Duc
Mike Hubbard, the speaker of Alabama's House of Representatives, was arrested and indicted Monday on 23 felony corruption charges, according to the state attorney general's office.
Hubbard was indicted by a grand jury in Lee County on charges that he used his office for personal gain, solicited things of value from lobbyists, and accepted payments to represent firms before other state agencies.
He surrendered Monday at the Lee County Jail, prosecutors said. And according to tweets Monday night from a debate scheduled between Hubbard and his Democratic challenger, Shirley Scott-Harris, Hubbard was in attendance.
Most of the allegations involve two of Hubbard's businesses, Auburn Network and Craftmaster Printers. According to the indictment, Hubbard solicited four investments of $150,000 in his printing business from various businessmen and individuals, and also used a state computer, email and time for personal benefit.
Hubbard, who was first elected to the House of Representatives in 1998, is up for reelection this year.
"If there was any doubt by anybody that this is a political witch hunt, it became crystal clear today when these allegations were brought two weeks before an election," Hubbard said in a statement released by his attorney. "I'm sleeping well at night because I know the people of Lee County can see this for what it is and that's politics at its worst."
In another statement, his attorney, J. Mark White, called the case "political persecution" and said Hubbard "expressly and emphatically denies any wrongdoing."
"We will vigorously defend against these baseless charges," White said. Alabama House Minority Leader Craig Ford denied that the prosecution was politically motivated, pointing out that the investigation was being led by Republican Atty. Gen. Luther Strange's office.
"You never want to see anything like this happen to anyone," Ford said in a statement. "It shakes the people's faith in their elected leaders." If convicted, Hubbard faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison and fines of up to $30,000 for each count, prosecutors said.
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