By Lee Hedgepeth
Alabama Political Reporter
Governor Robert Bentley showed up to testify before the Alabama Senate Confirmations Committee, which was scheduled to meet on Wednesday at 4:30, to consider appointees to Alabama State University’s Board of Trustees. The problem was – as the Governor himself put it – “No one showed up except me.”
The Governor has appointed four new members to the ASU board, all of which are already serving in their new capacity. Only a meeting and rejection by the Senate Confirmations Committee would prevent their continued work at the HBCU.
The appointees are business owners Larry Thornton of Birmingham and Fitzgerald Washington of Tuscaloosa, Macon County Superintendent Jaqueline Brooks, and Montgomery attorney Robert Gilpin.
Washington is an replacement appointment for Thomas Figures, a Mobile attorney and brother-in-law of Senate Minority Leader Vivian Figures. The three others are reappointments to the board.
After his attempted testimony in the State House, the Governor – who is a former state legislator and therefore has floor privileges – headed to the Senate chamber to make a personal push for the approval of the committee.
Afterwards, outside the Senate, the Governor stopped and gave a statement on the issue, shedding light on his appointments and on the days’ events.
“Unfortunately, the meeting was published for 4:30 this afternoon,” the Governor said in reference to the committee meeting. “The agenda was not published, and no one showed up – except me.”
His statements can be seen here.
Members of the Senate Confirmations Committee include Senators Waggoner, Smith, Allen, Bedford Blackwell, Dunn, Fielding, Glover, Orr, Scofield, Ward, Whatley, and Senate Pro Tem Del Marsh.
The Senate was indeed in session at the time, though, which may well have prevented most of the lawmakers from making the meeting.
Senator Ward, who has said that Bentley’s being on the chamber floor over the appointees was “highly unusual” had a bill on the floor for debate during the confirmation meeting time.
After Governor Bentley made his comments, members of the press including APR caught up with the chair of the committee, Vestavia Republican Jabo Waggoner, who said that he had no intention of calling for another meeting “right now.”
“He is the chairman and he can call it, but there are a lot of forces involved in this process other than Senator Waggoner, so I’m not blaming Senator Waggoner.”
In his comments, Governor Bentley did mention that Senator Ross, D-Montgomery, “does not agree” with his decision.