Alabama house speaker Mike Hubbard, convicted on 12 felony charges in an ethics case , was released on a $160,000 bond on Friday ahead of sentencing that could see him imprisoned for up to 20 years on each count.
Hubbard, 54, who took the stand for three days in his own defense and described the case against him as a “political witch hunt”, was convicted on charges that he used the power of his office to improperly funnel huge sums in work and party money to his companies and his clients. Prosecutors accused him of making $2.3m off his party and position.
He faces a sentencing hearing on 8 July.
Alabama attorney general Luther Strange welcomed Hubbard’s conviction as a “good day for the rule of law in our state”. He added: “This should send a clear message that in Alabama we hold public officials accountable for their actions.”
Hubbard will be replaced by acting speaker Victor Gaston. In a statement, he said the incident “offers strong proof that the ethics reforms passed by the legislature in 2010 remain among the toughest in the nation”.
Though Hubbard is the first official convicted in the current corruption crackdown, he is not the only one under intense scrutiny. The state is facing a series of further investigations and potential dismissals that have turned its local government into something verging on a comedic spectacle.
Republican Governor Robert Bentley faces an investigation into his relationship with a top aide, with whom he has acknowledged engaging in sexually explicit conversations.
He has denied any physical relationship with the aide, Rebekah Caldwell Mason, though he could be heard on leaked recordings of phone conversations telling Mason:“When I stand behind you, and I put my arms around you, and I put my hands on your breasts.” After a pause, he added, “Hey, I love that too. Putting my hands under you.”
The state’s house judiciary committee is due to meet next week to discuss procedure and rules the committee will follow as it conducts an investigation, which could lead to impeachment proceedings.