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THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 8, 2007
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Candidate for GOP chair did business with party

By Phillip Rawls
Associated Press Writer

MONTGOMERY — House Minority Leader Mike Hubbard, the only announced candidate for chairman of the Alabama Republican Party, has done lots of business with the party, which in recent campaigns paid an ad agency and other firms in which he is associated.

But he said Wednesday it hasn't been profitable for him partly because of financial breaks he gave the party in its business. And if he is chair of the state GOP, he said, he will make sure there is no conflict of interest with Republican funds.

Campaign finance reports filed by the party show it has spent $881,673 during the last two years with companies where Hubbard is an officer.

"Any stuff we have done for the party, we have either lost money or broken even," Hubbard, R-Auburn, said.

A Republican campaign consultant said the spending raises questions about whether the governor's choice for chairman should be seeking the post.

Jack Campbell said serving as party chairman is usually a personal sacrifice, and the chairman's "main concern is building the party and publicly responding to the Democrats' agenda at both the state and national levels. This will probably not be the case with Mike Hubbard."

The State Republican Executive Committee meets Saturday in Montgomery to elect a successor to party Chairman Twinkle Andress Cavanaugh, who did not seek another two-year term in the unpaid post.

Hubbard is the only announced candidate. Others considered it but decided against it after Gov. Bob Riley endorsed Hubbard, who was his inaugural committee chairman.

Hubbard is president of the Auburn Network Inc., which includes the Studio 197 audio production firm and the Network Creative Media ad agency. He also became a director of Craftmaster Printers in Auburn in 2005, according to his last financial disclosure form filed with the State Ethics Commission.

The Republican Party's finance reports, filed with the secretary of state, show $881,673 in expenditures with those firms in 2005 and 2006.

Hubbard said he was not a party leader when the work was done.

If elected Saturday for a two-year term as chairman, Hubbard said the 2008 election would be much different from 2006, with much fewer races on the ballot. As for spending decisions involving his businesses, he said he would involve others.

"I wouldn't be where I would make the decision," he said.

He said the party and many Republican candidates use his ad agency to place ads because he doesn't charge them a commission. Hubbard said the Republican Party has used Craftmaster Printers for years, and he is not involved in the company's day-to-day management.

Cavanaugh said the party sought bids from companies that wanted to handle mailing and would sign a confidentiality agreement to protect the party's mailing lists that are used by its candidates. Craftmaster Printers was initially the only company that offered a bid for 2006, but the party's steering committee later approved a second printing company, she said.

"The party has to protect our list. We spend a lot of money developing a list of people who support the Republican Party," she said Wednesday.

Cavanaugh said Hubbard went beyond the call of duty to help the party, including using his legislative campaign fund to provide money.

"Mike Hubbard was the definition of a team player," she said.

Campbell has directed several campaigns in Alabama, including the 1994 campaign that made Perry Hooper Sr. Alabama's first Republican chief justice since Reconstruction.

In last fall's campaign, Campbell's clients included Pete Ward of Lineville, the Republican nominee in House District 37, who lost a race to Democratic incumbent Richard Laird of Roanoke. Campbell said Hubbard raised money as the House minority leader to help Republican legislative candidates, but wouldn't assist Ward.

Hubbard said Campbell has hard feelings from that legislative race. Hubbard said he told Campbell that defeating Laird was not a priority for House Republicans, and they were focusing campaign funds on other races.

Campbell said he's concerned that if Hubbard is party chairman, "his job will be to bash Democrats on a daily basis, and that will hurt his fellow Republicans who, unfortunately, have to work with the Democrats to get anything accomplished in the Alabama Legislature."

Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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