By Bill Britt
Alabama Political Reporter
There is a movement afoot in the Alabama House of Representatives to impeach Governor Robert Bentley, a mission which, if accomplished, will doom the 2017 Regular Legislative Session.
Bentley is an embarrassment, a fool, a liar and a cheat, and may have even committed crimes that are punishable by law.
Is believed to have used State resources to facilitate an affair with a married staff member Rebekah Caldwell Mason.
Manipulated Law Enforcement to accuse Spencer Collier of crimes he did not commit it seems.
May have violated the State’s FCPA by failing to report a $50,000 loan he made to his campaign in the required time.
Inappropriately paid the legal expenses for Mason and accepted reimbursement from the Republican Governor’s Association during a time when it was forbidden which according to the State’s Secretary of State can not do.
Bentley, who is fond of quoting scripture but loathe to follow its most basic tenets: He is a double-minded man, which the Bible teaches is unstable in all his ways. James: 1:8.
The rush to impeach will do more harm to the people of the State than Bentley remaining in office a few more months or even until the end of his term. This Legislative Session is the last of the quadrennium, in during which anything meaningful can be accomplished, as election season will commence once the Legislature adjourns sine die.
If the House does pass a resolution, the Senate will not go along with what amounts to a coup d’etat, because an impeachment is a complicated process as opposed to a hastily contrived Legislative resolution.
An impeachment is comparable to an indictment in regular court proceedings. The Fifth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States says in part: “No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia when in actual service in time of War or public danger.”
The House Judiciary Committee was charged with gathering facts, to determine if Bentley’s action rose to the level of a crime. That Committee halted its work at the request of then Attorney General Luther Strange. On at least two occasions, Strange muddied the waters by first asking the impeachment committee to delay its investigation and then by saying, “He” had never said Bentley was under investigation. Bentley elevated Strange to the US Senate with a stroke of his pen. Did the pair strike a corrupt bargain? We may never know, but I don’t think so. It was, however, a foolish pact between political enemies. Bentley was wrong for offering and Strange was foolish to take it.
Of course Strange may hope to find enough support from K Street lobbyists to overcome the war chest that businessman Jimmy Rane has ready to defeat him in 2018. Rane is already meeting with potential candidates and is even considering running himself, according to those in his sphere. In the age of President Trump, a candidate like Rane should easily catch fire with a barnburner campaign.
Strange had little to no support in Washington for his appointment. However, Bentley, either through weakness, incompetence or hubris didn’t listen to the counsel of DC lawmakers who wanted someone younger and preferably a woman. No doubt US Senate leadership wanted Rep. Martha Roby, a centrist Republican who could grow in the office and watched over Alabama’s interest in the Capitol.
Impeachment at this time is folly, unwise and dangerous. Does Bentley deserve to finish out his term in office? I don’t think so. But just because we wish a thing or even believe it is fair, doesn’t mean it is ultimately the best course of action.
All evidence suggests Bentley is under investigation by the Special Prosecution Division of the Attorney General’s Office. Attorney General Steve Marshall promised to recuse himself if there is an investigation (and he should because Bentley appointed him) and to tell us if there isn’t.
Almost an entire Legislative day was wasted on the resolution to impeach Bentley. I understand the desire, but the timing is wrong. Let the process play out under the Judiciary Committee, and let the Attorney General’s Office do its job.
For the sake of the people of Alabama, go to work for them during this session. They know Bentley is a fool and worse. And you know he is irrelevant.
Just because the Governor is a fool, don’t you act foolishly.