By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter
On Thursday, April 7, State Representative Ed Henry (R-Hartselle) was forced by criticism from his fellow legislature to withdraw the articles of impeachment resolution against embattled Alabama Governor Robert Bentley (R) in the powerful House rules committee. Rep. Henry will submit another resolution next week after rewriting it to address the concerns of his fellow legislators over the legislative process of impeachment.
House Rules Committee Chairman Mac McCutcheon (R-Capshaw) told reporters that he can’t speak on a timeline.
When reporters asked McCutcheon if he would like to have the impeachment process finished before the end of this legislative session, Chairman McCutcheon said, “Yes I would like to see this resolved.” McCutcheon said that Rep. Ed Henry is working on a resolution for impeachment that we will be able to use in the future.
McCutcheon said, “I don’t make quick decisions. My career was in law enforcement. I want to make sure that we have all the facts.”
Rep. McCutcheon said that he was embarrassed by Governor Bentley’s behavior. “It was very shameful that Gov. Bentley put us on the news like that.”
McCutcheon said that an impeachment investigation into Gov. Bentley is warranted and has merit. “We want to make sure that the process is right,” McCutcheon said.
Rep. Henry said that the Republican House Caucus had a very heated discussion about impeaching Bentley at Wednesday’s caucus meeting.
Henry said that the charges against Bentley need to be thoroughly vetted in a committee that can investigate. “Rules is not that kind of committee.” We have not done this in over a 100 years. The last impeachment was in 1915 and they did it in a Special Session.
Rep. Henry said that he wanted to have a framework in place and a resolution to submit for Tuesday. On the speed of the process, Henry said, “I don’t want it to linger and become a stigma for a long length of time.” My role is to encourage and to expedite the process.
Henry said that a new committee would be set up to investigate the charges against Bentley. Henry expressed confidence in the articles of impeachment that he presented to the Rules Committee can be proven: “I brought forward what I thought were very valid charges against the Governor I have no fear of them being vetted.”
Rep. Henry predicted, “The further we go down this road the more information that will come forward. It’s a process.”
Henry said that he found Governor Bentley’s conduct, “disgusting” but, “Not my main issue. My main issue is his competency.”
Rep. Henry said, “He has betrayed the trust of the people of Alabama, his family, and this legislature.”
Henry said that Bentley lied to the people of Alabama, he ran on no new taxes and then once elected said that the state needed $700 million in new taxes. Bentley said that he had no idea about the finances of the State, when every one of us had known what was going to come due. Henry said: “That was the first lie.”
Representative Henry said that when the first rumors of an affair came forward Gov. Bentley said that they were a bald face lie. He said it was fabricated, false, and said we were being deceived. After his wife of 50 years left he still said that there was no affair.
Rep. Henry said that he was at a Republican Steering Committee meeting with Gov. Bentley. He was begging the Party to support his tax proposal. He or his political aide recorded that conversation and then releases a version to the press to make him look good. Now we know that there was really an inappropriate relationship from the tapes and from Spencer Collier coming forward.
Rep. Henry said that he hoped that the special investigative committee would have subpoena power.
The Alabama Political Reporter asked Rep. Henry: Do the members of this special committee know that they are going to be on this committee so that they can take the weekend to begin making preparations?
Henry said no, that it has not been organized yet. There is an element of surprise. It hasn’t been decided. The committee will present its report to the full House. It only takes a simple majority of those voting for the impeachment articles to go to the Senate.
Rep. Henry said that one of the things that has slowed this down is that the legislature is rewriting the articles of impeachment provision in the 1901 Constitution. The caucus is insisting that the impeachment resolution will be aligned with the potential amendment that will be enacted this year (if it passes both Houses of the legislature and is ratified by the people in a November vote).
The legislature only has ten legislative day left to deal with impeachment, deal with a proposed gasoline and diesel tax increase, pass the education budget which is currently being considered by the Senate Finance & Taxation Education Committee, and every other issue that the legislature is considering.
House Majority Leader Victor Gaston (R-Mobile) said that the House will meet on Tuesday, April 12 and Wednesday, April 13, but there will not be a Thursday session.