Speaker Hubbard declines to explain meeting with Dunn, $144K lobbying contract

 

Mike Hubbard, the Speaker of the Alabama House or Representatives, and by most accounts, the second most powerful person in state politics.

By Eddie Curran

In late September, I sent the following letter to Speaker Hubbard. I called his office and confirmed that it had been received. I was told by one of his chief of staff that  I would be receiving a response within several days. No response was received, I made follow-up contacts but never received a response.

Sent Sept. 27, 2013

Attn: Mike Hubbard

 

Alabama House of Representatives District 79

 

cc: Josh Blades and Rachel Adams

 

Dear Rep. Hubbard,

 

Earlier this week I did an in-depth video interview with Terry Dunn on a number of subjects related to criticisms of him as a result of his efforts to hold formal rate hearings regarding Alabama’s regulated utilities, including Alabama Power.

 

I will, shortly, be publishing a web-site that will include, among other things, that interview. I will also publish my questions to you and your responses.

 

Dunn recounted an incident that I thought interesting and am therefore contacting you to get you response to what he told me, or your account of the meeting, and related matters.

 

He told me that he was invited to your office to meet with him. He told me that he was asked not to bring any staff. He told me that he believed the two of you would be meeting privately. Dunn told me that he was surprised that several members of your staff attended the meeting.

 

He said members of your staff read from newspaper stories in which Dunn was quoted. He said members of your staff took notes during the meeting. He did not say that you mentioned any utility. However, he said you told him he was taking his job too seriously and that he should back off.

 

My questions:

 

1. Do you deny that you or a member of your staff sought the meeting?

 

2. Do you deny that you or a member of your staff requested that Dunn come alone?

 

3. Why did you seek a meeting with Terry Dunn?

 

4. What did you say to Terry Dunn during that meeting?

 

5. Do you deny that members of your staff attended the meeting?

 

6. Do you deny that members of your staff participated in the meeting, including reading comments from newspapers and/or quotes that Terry Dunn had given?

 

7. Do you deny that members of your staff took notes during the meeting?

 

8. Have you participated in efforts to recruit candidates to run against Terry Dunn?

 

9. Do you approve of the well-known efforts to portray Terry Dunn as a liberal who has close ties to the environmental community?

 

10. Have you in any way participated in these efforts?

 

11. Obviously you are aware of the efforts as they have been widespread. Would you disagree with this statement: The real purpose in portraying Dunn as an environmentalists as a means of discrediting him in the eyes of conservative voters who in general do not consider themselves environmentalists?

 

12. Are you aware of any evidence that Dunn’s views and his policy considerations are in any way related to “environmentalism”?

 

13. Do you think Terry Dunn is wrong to question Alabama Power’s rate of return, which is the highest of any electric utility in the country and far above the national average?

 

14. Would you agree that a decrease in Alabama Power’s rate of return — say, to 11.5 percent, still above the national average — would result in lower power bills for Alabama citizens and small businesses in the state?

 

15. If you oppose efforts to lower the company’s rate of return, please explain why.

 

16. Please describe your relationship with Cliff Sims and Yellowhammer News. Do you or any affiliated companies have any investment or ownership in Yellowhammer?

 

17. To your knowledge, has Terry Dunn, while in office, negotiated any consulting agreements similar in any way to the $144,000 per year economic development/consulting contract that you had with the Southeast Alabama Gas District?

 

18. Do you believe you would have received this contract if you were not the speaker of the Alabama House of Representatives?

 

19. Though you clearly don’t know Terry Dunn well, do you believe that Dunn is the sort of public official who would enter into such an agreement or, rather, that he would find such an arrangement ethically untenable?

 

I look forward to your responses. I tried to reach Josh Blades yesterday and asked for a return call but did not receive one. I intend to publish these questions on the web-site, and hope to also be able to include your responses.

 

Sincerely,

 

Eddie Curran

 

In Part Four of, “Mr. Dunn Goes to Montgomery,” Dunn describes the meeting with Hubbard.

It has been widely reported — that is to say, in all major Alabama print outlets — that a Lee County grand jury is being presented evidence of possible crimes by Hubbard. There have been no charges, there may well never be, and even if there are, that’s still a giant step from “found guilty.” Nevertheless, it’s odd, or, perhaps not, that an outlet that claims to cover state politics like a rug has failed to report the first thing about the grand jury.

Here are portions of two typical fluff pieces in Yellowhammer News about Hubbard.

 

Now, a story Yellowhammer News apparently missed, and keeps missing, which is to say, Yellowhammer has yet to report it.  This story in the Al.Com papers reported Hubbard’s $144,000 a year consulting contract with the Southeast Alabama Gas District, and a second contract promoting the interests of independent pharmacists. Both contracts were routed through the Auburn Network, which Hubbard owns.