Carroll Hubbard back in news for all the wrong reasons

Published 11:10 am Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Carroll Hubbard, a disgraced former U.S. congressman from Western Kentucky who grew up in Ashland, is back in the news for a harassing communications investigation.

In what was originally an anonymous letter sent to another attorney, the former Congressman called the attorney and her spouse “pitifull (sic) fat, ugly lesbians.”

Retired Kentucky Supreme Court Justice Bill Graves of Paducah told the Courier-Journal in Louisville last week that while Hubbard’s recent conduct does not sound “wholesome” or “professional,” he may have had a First Amendment right to send the letter.

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A person is guilty of harassing communications in Kentucky when, with intent to “intimidate, harass, annoy, or alarm,” he communicates with a person “anonymously or otherwise . in a manner which causes annoyance or alarm and serves no purpose of legitimate communication.” The crime is a misdemeanor punishable by a maximum fine of $250 and up to 90 days in jail.

Whether Hubbard’s inflammatory letter to his opposing attorney leads to formal charges against the 80-year-old former congressman and gubernatorial candidate remains to be seen, but it is another blemish on the record of the former nine-term U.S. Representative who was one of the early favorites for the 1979 Democratic nomination for governor before he tripped over his ego and misdeeds.

Since then it has been mostly downhill for Hubbard, who spent much of his childhood in Ashland. He pleaded guilty in 1994 to charges stemming from an investigation into a House banking scandal. He admitted he obstructed justice by staging a burglary of his district office to make it appear his campaign and House bank records had been stolen, and that he misappropriated more than $50,000 in campaign money for illegal use. He also admitted ordering his congressional staff to perform personal and political tasks for him while they were being paid by the government.

Hubbard was disbarred following his guilty pleas. In 2001, the Kentucky Bar Association’s board of governors voted 16-0 against reinstating Hubbard to practice but the Kentucky Supreme Court found he was of “good moral character” and voted unanimously to return his law license.

Hubbard is back in the news after being accused of sending an anonymous letter to another Paducah attorney, Alisha Kay Bobo, his opponent in a heated family law case. The letter included photos of Bobo and her same-sex spouse at a fundraising event and described them in disparaging terms.

When Bobo on Jan. 31 asked in court if his handwriting was on the letter, Hubbard initially said no. When reminded he was under oath, he refused to answer. He eventually cited his Fifth Amendment right not to incriminate himself after Family Court Judge Deanna Wise Henschel reminded him of that constitutional right.

Bobo told Courier Journal the mailing was “appalling” — especially coming from an attorney.

Except for Hubbard’s past ties with this community, this story would attract little interest in this part of Kentucky. It is just another example of how pride, prejudice and arrogance continue to cause a once respected and somewhat effective member of the U.S. House of Representatives to fall from grace. How disappointing that is for those of us who once thought Carroll Hubbard showed great promise — promise that was never fulfilled.

The Daily Independent of Ashland