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Court to hear arguments in former House speaker ethics case

May 3, 2019
FILE - In this Thursday, June 9, 2016, file photo, Alabama House Speaker Mike Hubbard enters the courtroom during his trial, in Opelika, Ala. The Alabama Supreme Court will hear oral arguments next month in former House Speaker Mike Hubbard’s last bid to overturn his ethics conviction and avoid a prison sentence. The court said Thursday, May 2, 2019 that oral arguments will be held June 4. Hubbard was one of the state's most influential Republicans, but his political career ended with his 2016 conviction on ethics charges. A judge sentenced Hubbard to four years in prison, but he is free on bond as he appeals. (Todd J. Van Emst/Opelika-Auburn News via AP, File)

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — The Alabama Supreme Court will hear oral arguments next month in former House Speaker Mike Hubbard’s last bid to overturn his ethics conviction and avoid a prison sentence.

The court set oral arguments for June 4 in the closely watched appeal.

Hubbard was one of the state’s most influential Republicans, but his political career ended with his 2016 conviction on ethics charges. The allegations included that he improperly asked lobbyists and company executives for work and investments in his businesses.

A judge sentenced Hubbard to four years in prison, but he is free on bond as he appeals. Hubbard’s attorneys are asking justices to issue a judgment of acquittal or at least grant Hubbard a new trial.

Hubbard’s lawyers argued the transactions were aboveboard business dealings and prosecutors stretched the intent of the ethics law in their case against the Republican.

“Hubbard simply did not violate the law as the Legislature enacted it. Certainly there is no evidence that he ‘intentionally’ did so, where he acted in accordance with reasonable understanding of the law as written and where he repeatedly sought Ethics Commission guidance,” his attorneys wrote in their brief before the state Supreme Court.

The Alabama attorney general’s office, which had asked for oral argument, argued Hubbard capitalized on his public office for personal gain.

“Hubbard asserts that he was just trying to ‘make a living as other citizens do.’ But private citizens cannot earn a living through jobs that involve minimal work and training over scotch. They cannot collect hundreds of thousands of dollars for occasionally calling a legislator,” the attorney general’s office wrote in their brief to the court.