Bill Would Give Governor Power to Appoint State Auditor, Agriculture Commissioner

March 22, 2016

By Bill Britt
Alabama Political Reporter

MONTGOMERY—A proposed amendment to the State’s 1901 constitution, would give the authority to appoint the State Auditor and Secretary of Agriculture and Industry to Governor Bentley.

Currently, the State constitution states that these public offices are filled by a vote of the people, something that State Rep. Paul Beeckman (R-Prattville) would change with HB432.

john-mcmillanWhile the State Auditor office is of small consequence in the greater scheme of government, the Secretary of Agriculture and Industry is a very powerful position, currently held by John McMillan.

State Auditor, Jim Zeigler, says he believes HB432 targets him personally and the bill’s inclusion of the Agriculture Commissioner “could be a strategy to make it look like they are not targeting me.”

Insiders around the hill believe just the opposite saying, the bill is actually a carrot, not a stick, being offered to McMillan as an incitement to stay on as Agriculture Commissioner, and not run for Governor in 2018.

McMillan, who had just returned Montgomery from a trip to Cuba promoting Alabama’s poultry and timber, said he was not familiar with the bill, other than that it existed.

Beckman says the bill has nothing to do with Zeigler, personally: “We are not singling out Jim Zeigler, with this bill.” According to Beckman he introduced the bill to see how the State might save money on elections, create great efficiencies and spur conversation on the matter.

He did find it interesting that Zeigler constantly asked for more money for his office, yet spends a great deal of time on Facebook talking about the things he wants to do. “He seems to have a lot of time on his hands,” said Beckman.

jim-zieglerZeigler thinks he is being singled out because he is an outspoken critic of Governor Bentley.
“Having the Governor appoint the State Auditor would be the fox guarding the hen house,” said Zeigler.

There is a general consensus that Zeigler will run for Governor in the next election cycle. There is a strong consensus that if McMillan tosses his hat into the ring, he will be a top-tier candidate, given his long career in public service, and steady, proven leadership.

Beckman said HB432 has generated conversation, but even if adopted this session, it would not go into affect until after the 2018 elections.

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