FCC won’t revoke radio licenses held by former convicted speaker

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The Federal Communications Commission will not revoke the radio broadcast licenses held by former Alabama House speaker Mike Hubbard after deciding that Hubbard’s convictions on ethics charges did not automatically disqualify him.

Administrative Law Judge Jane Hinckley Halprin ruled this month that the law enforcement office had failed to prove that Hubbard’s felony convictions made 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 accordingly,” Halprin wrote, but noted that the policies are clear, “that not all crimes are disqualifying.”

“In short, a careful review of the criminal record and all of the evidence presented fails to satisfy the Presiding Judge that Mr. Hubbard lacks the character to remain licensed by the Commission.”

Hubbard formed Auburn Network, Inc. in 1994 and owns the licenses for “News Talk 1400” WANI at Opelika and “Wings 94.3” WGZZ at Waverly, as well as three FM translator stations that rebroadcast the signals. According to commission documents, after his conviction, Hubbard agreed to sell the stations to Frank Lee Perryman for $775,000. But a decision on the license transfer request has been put on hold until the revocation is 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 Institution. Its earliest release date is January 8, 2023.

Prosecutors accused Hubbard of leveraging his powerful public office to secure clients and investments for his businesses, violating a ban on giving a “thing of value” to an elected official. His defense argued that the contracts were legitimate work and unrelated to his position as Speaker of the House.

Hubbard filed a motion last year asking for early release from prison, but a judge did not grant the request.

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