— MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — Alabama's attorney general has subpoenaed financial records from the state Republican Party that show more than $800,000 in party money was paid to an Auburn printing company while one of its owners, House Speaker Mike Hubbard, was serving as the party chairman.
The records sought by the attorney general included an audit the party had done of its spending in the 2010 campaign. The party released the audit publicly Monday.
Hubbard said he was glad the party made the audit public because he has been requesting the release since October and is proud of what the party accomplished. But he said, "I'm sorry it finally took the attorney general to get it released."
Hubbard led the GOP through the 2010 election when the party won every statewide race and picked up a majority in the Legislature for the first time in 136 years. After that, Hubbard stepped down to become speaker of the House and was replaced as party chairman by former state Sen. Bill Armistead in early 2011. Armistead then ordered an audit of the party's spending in the 2010 campaign. He said Monday he did it because it's a good business practice and he wasn't looking for anything in particular.
The party's steering committee originally planned to keep the seven-page report private, but decided to release it Monday after the attorney general sought it and other financial records from 2010. Armistead said Monday he could not discuss the subpoena.
The financial report, conducted by Warren Averett, found that the party paid $83,524 directly to Craftmasters Printers, an Auburn-based company where Hubbard owns 26 percent. The audit also found that one of the companies hired by the party in the 2010 election, Majority Strategies, paid $752,262 to Craftmasters for help with printing, postage, mailing and shipping of direct mail campaign literature.
Armistead said there was nothing illegal with the expenditure through Majority Strategies, but Hubbard did not inform the party's steering committee that his business was earning income.
"I don't think it was proper to do that," Armistead said.
A member of the steering committee, Jerry Lathan of Mobile, agreed the committee was not aware. He said Monday he did not have enough information to know whether there was any comparison shopping for the printing.
Hubbard said it saved the party money to route the printing through Craftmasters because of economies of scale.
"I'm real proud of what we did. Our goal was to win races and to win them efficiently as possible, and that's what we did," he said.
A spokeswoman for the attorney general's office said it is not commenting on why Strange, a Republican, sought the records.
The subpoena comes as Armistead is campaigning for a second two-year term as chairman. He is opposed by Birmingham attorney Matt Fridy, who is backed by Hubbard, Lt. Gov. Kay Ivey and Gov. Robert Bentley. The more than 400 members of the party's executive committee will vote Feb. 2 in Birmingham.
Armistead said Monday he plans to have an audit of spending during his tenure completed before that meeting.
Besides noting the expenditures to Craftmasters, the audit said the party paid $132,000 to Southern Insights, a political consulting firm co-owner by Chris Brown, who serves on the party's steering committee.