Longtime state Rep. Alvin Holmes is criticizing House Speaker Mike Hubbard for the lack of diversity on his staff.
Holmes, in a letter to the Auburn Republican, accused Hubbard of discrimination for having no blacks on his six-person staff and pushed for him to immediately rectify the situation.
“Mr. Holmes is known for making many ridiculous and unfounded accusations. This is one of them. The speaker’s office hires based on qualifications, not on race,” Todd Stacy, communications director for Hubbard, wrote in an email to the Montgomery Advertiser.
Stacy confirmed that none of the six employees in Hubbard’s office are black, but sent information from the human resources office in the House of Representatives indicating that about 48 percent of the 62 House employees are black while 50 percent are white.
Holmes, D-Montgomery, said 27 of the 105 members of the House are black and about 30 percent of the state’s population is black.
“When he was elected speaker of the House, he was elected with a unanimous vote, black and white,” Holmes said of the December 2010 vote for Hubbard.
Holmes said he talked to Hubbard earlier in his short time as speaker and encouraged him to hire black employees.
“He told me he was going to be fair,” said Holmes, who was elected in 1974 and is the longest serving member of the House.
Holmes said there is an U.S. Supreme Court ruling that states that the patronage system used for political appointments cannot be used for low-level employees such as clerks and secretaries.
Holmes said it does not look good for the state for the speaker’s office to only have white employees, especially in light of the national spotlight on the state’s crackdown on illegal immigration.
Hubbard’s staff includes a chief of staff, attorney, a legislative analyst, a policy analyst, communications director, and an executive assistant.
Holmes said Hubbard hired more staff than previous speakers even though the duties are the same.
Hubbard previously told the Advertiser that he expanded the number of employees in the speaker’s office from four to six, but will keep the budget essentially the same because those working for him will be paid less.
Holmes said his complaint is not the result of any issues with the people currently working for Hubbard and said they were competent and he respected them.
Holmes, who is the civil rights and affirmative action chairman for the Alabama Legislative Black Caucus, said he was writing on behalf of the caucus.
Holmes sent copies of the letter to the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Attorney General’s Office and to Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange. The lawmaker said that if Hubbard did not correct the situation that he would file an official complaint with the U.S. Attorney General and file a federal lawsuit.
– posted by Sebastian Kitchen