Good morning! Hard to think about anything other than college football kicking off this week, but there is plenty of news today. Here’s your Daily News for Tuesday, August 28, 2018.
1. 11 of Hubbard’s 12 ethics convictions upheld.
- The Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals upheld 11 of the 12 guilty verdicts of former Alabama House Speaker Mike Hubbard.
- Hubbard was convicted in May 2016 on charges that he violated the state’s ethics laws by improperly using his office for personal gain.
- Hubbard’s defense team, led by former Alabama Attorney General Bill Baxley, argued vigorously that the trial court got it wrong and prosecutors acted improperly in gathering and presenting evidence.
- In the end, the appellate court disagreed, finding that there was sufficient evidence to convict on all but one count. The court found there was no evidence supporting the prosecution’s assertion that Hubbard was employed by a pharmaceutical company when he voted on a budget potentially benefiting them.
- Baxley told reporters he was “in shock” from the ruling and said Hubbard would appeal to the Alabama Supreme Court.
- The appeals ruling is a long and exhaustive 157 pages, and you can read it for yourself HERE.
- Of importance: The court made a point to say that parts of the state’s ethics code are flawed and problematic. For instance, the opinion points out that the state has 34 definitions of “principals” to which the ethics law applies. That was a confusing bugaboo before, during, and after the trial for state government officials, business leaders, and the lobbying community.
- “We strongly encourage the legislature to consider amending the law to better circumscribe the class of persons defined as principals, and to more clearly explain several of the other 34 definitions embodied in (the ethics law). … The language of Alabama’s ethics law should be clear as to which persons, businesses, and acts fall within its reach,” judges wrote.
- As if on cue, the Code of Ethics Clarification and Reform Commission is meeting today in the Attorney General’s office. They will specifically be talking about definitions, and I’d bet this principals thing comes up.
- Read the full story from AP’s Kim Chandler HERE.
- Read Brian Lyman’s story for The Montgomery Advertiser HERE.
- Read Mike Cason’s story for AL.com HERE.
2. Trump announces Mexican trade deal.
- President Donald Trump on Monday announced that the United States and Mexico are going it alone in renegotiating the North American Free Trade Agreement.
- That’s NAFTA, as you know, and the 24-year old deal also includes Canada.
- But Trump isn’t pleased with Canada’s performance in the tri-lateral talks so far, so he’s threatening to leave them out and even rename NAFTA. He said Canada can come back to the table “when they’re ready to negotiate fairly.”
- The United States – and specifically Alabama – could benefit significantly from the announced new trade terms with Mexico…
- For automobile manufacturing: fewer non-North American parts will be allowed and Mexico would have to pay employees more. That’s good for us.
- For agriculture: stricter requirements for Mexico for grading and using biotechnology in food production and safety. Also good for us.
- A fair and equitable trade agreement with Canada and Mexico – our second and third largest trading partners, respectively – could be economic lightning in a bottle.
- Congress still has to approve any deal, and top Republicans signaled they want Canada back at the table.
- Some within Alabama’s Congressional Delegation were quick to praise the preliminary deal.
- Congressman Robert Aderholt, who chairs Agriculture Appropriations in the House, said “President Trump has once again proven these critics wrong. The strength of the American economy, and the American consumer, comes with a lot of negotiating power. Power that has too often not been used, to the detriment of American workers. Those days are over.”
- Read the complete story from the White House HERE.
- Read a more detailed story from the New York Times with the political back-and-forth with Mexico and Canada HERE.
- Read details about what’s in the preliminary trade deal from Business Insider HERE.
3. Sessions stands alone.
- There was a time not long ago when basically every Alabama Republican officeholder wanted to be as close to Jeff Sessions as possible.
- Close in political association, close in policy, close physically in photo ops.
- Those days appear to be over, thanks to President Trump’s intense public criticism of Sessions.
- After the last week’s attacks on Sessions, the Congressional delegation isn’t defending the Attorney General quite like they once did.
- Politico’s Rachel Bade has a story about the difference in reactions between this year and last.
- Reps. Martha Roby had words of support. Rep. Gary Palmer talked positivley on the radio but also had support and criticism.
- Sen. Richard Shelby had nice things to say but kind of hit it on the nose if you read his comment carefully:
- “He’s an honest man and that’s very important in that job, but there’s some challenges down there as you know,” Shelby said.
- He’s talking about “down there” in Alabama. He’s talking about us.
- Full story HERE.
4. McCain’s last words and an unforced error.
- The late Sen. John McCain left some final words that were released and read aloud by his aide yesterday.
- It was half an emotional farewell, half a final word on his ideals and beliefs, and all of it worth your time and attention.
- An excerpt:
- I’ve tried to serve our country honorably. I’ve made mistakes but I hope my love for America will be weighed favorably against them. I’ve often observed that I am the luckiest person on earth. I feel that way even now, as I prepare for the end of my life. I’ve loved my life, all of it. I’ve had experiences, adventures, friendships, enough for 10 satisfying lives, and I am so thankful. Like most people, I have regrets. But I would not trade a day of my life in good or bad times for the best day of anybody else’s.
- It’s no secret that McCain and President Trump had a long-running feud. Usually in death it’s best to let bygones be bygones.
- That’s why it was baffling to me that it took the White House the better part of two days to convince the president to lower flags to half staff and issue a statement.
- It was unseemly and unnecessary.
- To many, Trump’s rough edges and fighting spirit are the thing they love the most about him. But it comes with consequences.
- Gotta ask yourself: if Trump never gets personal criticizing McCain, doesn’t he and Republicans succeed in delivering on their campaign promise to repeal ObamaCare?
5. News briefs.
- The suspect in a deadly shooting at a Florida video game tournament had previously been hospitalized for mental illness.
- That’s according to court records in his home state of Maryland reviewed by The Associated Press.
- The shooting at the Madden Football event killed two and injured ten.
- Full story HERE.
Michael B. Jordan in Montgomery
- “Black Panther” and “Creed” film star Michael B. Jordan is in Montgomery shooting a movie and people are pretty excited about it.
- Jordan stopped by Valiant Cross Academy to visit students and take pictures, which you can see HERE.
- Jordan is filming “Just Mercy,” which is based on Equal Justice Initiative founder Bryan Stevenson’s effort to overturn the death penalty sentence of Walter McMillian.
Dems in a pickle on ICE
- Many liberal activists are pushing Democratic politicians to support abolishing the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency.
- Those calls have caught on in Congress and on the way-to-early presidential campaign trail.
- But, it might not be a political winner among actual Democratic voters.
- A new poll finds only a quarter of Democrats nationally support eliminating ICE. That creates a political pickle for Democratic politicians trying to please the activist liberal base.
- Full story HERE.
One funny thing: Cohen gets OJ.
- Comedic duper Sacha Baron Cohen used his comedic forces for good and got one over on O.J. Simpson.
- He’s the same guy who duped some Congressmen and Roy Moore for his Showtime show last month.
- This time he plays an Italian billionaire joking with O.J. about them both being “ladykillers.”
- It’s awkward and pretty funny. Watch a preview HERE, but be warned there’s some bad language and, I mean, they’re talking about killing people.
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Court upholds 11 of Hubbard’s 12 ethics convictions.
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – ‘Just Mercy’ begins filming in Montgomery.
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – US and Mexico tentatively set to replace NAFTA with new deal.
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – McCain’s final statement: Americans have ‘more in common.’
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – After cascade of criticism, Trump honors McCain’s service.
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Concern that IRS rule may hurt private school scholarships.
MONTGOMERY ADVERTISER – ‘Black Panther’ star Michael B. Jordan visits Montgomery school during ‘Just Mercy’ filming.
MONTGOMERY ADVERTISER – Appeals court upholds most of Hubbard’s ethics convictions.
MONTGOMERY ADVERTISER – Air Force innovation center opening in Montgomery.
DOTHAN EAGLE – Phyllis Edwards: Goal of school restructuring to get system ‘back on track’.
DOTHAN EAGLE – Webb man killed, several injured in major accident on Highway 231 South.
YELLOWHAMMER NEWS – ‘Right for Alabama:’ ALGOP adopts first-ever state party platform
YELLOWHAMMER NEWS – Dale Jackson:The media’s reversal on McCain is a transparent attack on Trump.
DECATUR DAILY – Montgomery doctor linked to Ed Henry sentenced in separate case.
FLORENCE TIMES DAILY – Muscle Shoals Millage Vote: The cost of progress.
ANNISTON STAR – Maddox renews debate call in Anniston speech.
AL.COM – Alabama Criminal Appeals Court upholds Mike Hubbard conviction on 11 counts.
AL.COM – Popcorn mixed with herbicide given away at Alabama store, health officials say.
AL.COM – ‘Black Panther’ actor Michael B. Jordan surprises kids at Alabama school.
AL.COM – Huntsville area has second earthquake of the year.
AL.COM – John McCain and Alabama’s Jeremiah Denton: Late Senators, both Vietnam POWs, had strong bond.
WASHINGTON POST – Trump turns McCain’s death into another political firestorm about Trump.
WASHINGTON POST – Mollie Tibbetts’s father decries vitriol against Hispanics, saying they’re ‘Iowans with better food’.
WASHINGTON POST – Top student loan watchdog resigns over Trump administration policies.
NEW YORK TIMES – Trump Reaches Revised Trade Deal With Mexico, Threatening to Leave Out Canada.
NEW YORK TIMES – The Trump Tax Cuts Were Supposed to Depress Housing Prices. They Haven’t.