The shape of things to come?

By Bill Britt
Alabama Political Reporter

Several decisions over the next few weeks and months could significantly affect Alabama’s future for generations. Among these are, the appointment of Senator Jeff Sessions’ replacement, the Special Supreme Court’s ruling in Chief Justice Roy Moore’s appeal and the findings of the Montgomery Grand Jury concerning Governor Robert Bentley.

Bentley is publicly holding casting-calls to find Sessions’ replacement upon his confirmation as US Attorney General. From a novice State representative to Chief Justice Moore himself, Bentley is parading potential candidates around like beauty pageant contestants. Each day the press publishes an ever-expanding list of hopeful nominees. It seems more like a charade than a selection process. Identifying the next junior Senator from Alabama is serious business, with little in common with the spectacle it now seems to have become. Perhaps, Bentley is using the Senate interviews to line up support for the billion dollar prison bill he plans to push in a special legislative session. Perhaps it is simply to hide his real intentions. With this Governor, the only thing you know for sure is that you don’t know.
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Emails Reveal BP Funds Crooked Path To Beach Mansion

By Bill and Susan Britt
Alabama Political Reporter

MONTGOMERY—A lengthy email chain between department heads and members of the Governor’s staff shows how BP oil spill funds were transferred through the State’s Emergency Management Agency to the Department of Finance, eventually landing at the Governor’s Beach Mansion.

After lawmakers and reporters began questioning the project in 2015, Governor Robert Bentley had the State’s top law enforcement agency, ALEA, designate the projects information as “Sensitive Security Information.”
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New Developments in Bentley Investigation

By Bill Britt
Alabama Political Reporter

MONTGOMERY—The investigation into Governor Robert Bentley has taken a new turn, with the recusal of US Attorney for the Middle District of Alabama, George Beck. Those with knowledge of the investigation believe that Beck’s recusal is due to his long association with donors, consultants, and advisors, who have been been involved in various capacities with the Bentley administration.

While much of the probe into allegations against Bentley has been under the FBI’s Public Integrity Section (PIN), ultimate oversight has now been given to John A. Horn the US Attorney for the Northern District of Georgia. PIN oversees the federal effort to combat corruption by prosecuting elected and appointed public officials at all levels of government.
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Hammett Out of Governor’s Administration

By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter

Friday, October 2, Alabama Governor Robert Bentley (R) announced changes to a new leadership team for the Governor’s Office, with the goal of continuing to serve the citizens of Alabama, by creating jobs and making State government more effective and efficient.
 
Governor Bentley said in a statement, “Each member of our senior executive staff plays an important role in helping me serve the people of this state.  Our team brings a wealth of knowledge and experience, as well as a heart for the people of we serve, to the Governor’s Office. The leadership team will work to strengthen our efforts to make Alabama stronger and better for all Alabamians.”
 
Administration Chief of Staff Seth Hammett is leaving the cabinet to return to the private sector.
Gov. Bentley said, “I appreciate Seth Hammett’s service as Chief of Staff, and his dedication to serve in my administration.  We made great strides in economic development and workforce training during the 2015 Regular Session, and I appreciate Seth’s guidance and experience in both fields.”
 
Seth Hammett said, “I want to thank Governor Bentley for his trust in me and the opportunity to serve as his Chief of Staff over the last year.  Under his leadership and direction, we have made many improvements the way State government operates and have tackled many difficult issues together.  It has been a richly rewarding experience to serve in this capacity and once again, work for the people of this State.”
 
Governor Bentley is forming a new leadership management team responsible for carrying out the core operations of the Governor’s Office.  The team will be co-led by Deputy Chief of Staff for Administration Blake Hardwich and Deputy Chief of Staff for Policy Jon Barganier.  Barganier will serve as the primary point of contact for the Governor’s Office.
 
Seth Hammett was a longtime Democratic member of the State House of Representatives and was the last Democratic Speaker of the House.  As Speaker Hammett was able to cobble together votes.  Those abilities were tested in the Bentley administration which was trying to get Republicans and Democrats to come together behind a plan to raise taxes by as much as $550 million a year.  That went nowhere.  Most Democrats opposed the tax increases because the program did not include a lottery or Medicaid expansion.  Most Republicans opposed the tax increases because it violated their core principles of small government.  In the end only $82 million in tax increases were passed…much less that the $150 million a year in trust fund budget raid money that ran out in 2015.
 
Many Republicans were critical of why Bentley would invest so much power in any Democrat and felt that Alabamians elected Republicans to lead so top jobs should go to Republicans.

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