FCC won’t revoke radio licenses held by convicted ex-speaker
AUBURN, Ala. (AP) — The Federal Communications Commission will not revoke radio broadcast licenses held by former Alabama House Speaker Mike Hubbard, after ruling that Hubbard’s convictions on ethics charges did not automatically disqualify him.
Administrative Law Judge Jane Hinckley Halprin ruled this month that the enforcement bureau had not proven that Hubbard’s felony convictions render him, and by extension Auburn Network, unqualified to hold the licenses.
“The crimes of which Mr. Hubbard is guilty are not trivial; indeed, he is currently incarcerated as a result,” Halprin wrote, but noted that policies are clear, “that not every felony is disqualifying.”
“In short, a careful review of the criminal record and all the evidence submitted fails to persuade the Presiding Judge that Mr. Hubbard does not possess the character to remain a Commission licensee.”
Hubbard established the Auburn Network, Inc. in 1994 and holds the licenses for “News Talk 1400” WANI in Opelika and “Wings 94.3” WGZZ in Waverly along with three FM translator stations that rebroadcast the signals. According to commission filings, after his conviction, Hubbard agreed to sell the stations to Frank Lee Perryman for $775,000. But a decision on the license transfer request was held in abeyance while the revocation was decided.
Hubbard is serving a 28-month prison sentence after being convicted in 2016 of violating the state ethics law, including using his public office for personal financial gain. He is imprisoned at Limestone Correctional Facility. His earliest release date is Jan. 8, 2023.
Prosecutors accused Hubbard of leveraging his powerful public office to obtain clients and investments for his businesses, violating the prohibition against giving a “thing of value” to an elected official. His defense maintained the contracts were legitimate work and unrelated to his position as House speaker.
Hubbard last year filed a motion seeking early release from prison, but a judge has not acted on that request.