By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter
Saturday, April 16, Alabama Auditor Jim Zeigler spoke at the Common Sense Campaign’s Tax Day Rally at the Fowl River Community Center in Theodore on the status of the effort to remove embattled Alabama Governor Robert Bentley (R).
Zeigler said, “The House of Representatives will not pass a resolution of impeachment before they adjourn by May 16 and go home. The Articles of Impeachment by Rep. Ed Henry have not been considered by a House Committee. They will not reach the House floor for a vote.”
Zeigler did say that, “It appears that the House will consider a resolution next week to start a committee investigation of impeachment grounds.” But stated, “It would not even be started good when the legislature adjourns Sine Die and goes home in May.”
Zeigler said that. “The Senate cannot act at all on an impeachment trial unless the House first passes an impeachment resolution. That likely will not happen until sometime in 2017.” Zeigler said that allowing the dysfunction in the Governor’s office to linger until 2017 is not acceptable to the people of Alabama.
Zeigler said that he has filed an ethics report to trigger an investigation of Gov. Bentley but is under a gag order so cannot comment on the ethics investigation. Zeigler said that it does not appear to him that an investigation of the Governor is being made by the state attorney general. Likewise Zeigler said that, “We see no indication of any investigation by the US Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Alabama. Zeigler said that both of the recall measures are not making progress in the legislature.
Zeigler proposed his own recall measure named, “EXECUTIVE RECALL,” which he predicted would have a much greater chance of passing both House of the Legislature. His recall proposal would only apply to the seven statewide constitutional officers. The legislature would not be held to the same standard and thus would be more likely to vote for it.
The last time the legislature even attempted to remove anyone via impeachment was 1915 when they attempted to remove the Secretary of State. That resolution did not pass the House. Only 15 Governors have been removed by impeachment in the history of the United States. Only two Presidents have been impeached (the last being President Bill Clinton (D)); though no President has ever been removed from office. President Richard Nixon (R) resigned before the US House of Representatives could vote on impeachment for his role in the Watergate break in and cover up.
The last Governor of Alabama to resign from office was Gov. Guy Hunt (R) in 1993; but that was only after a jury convicted him of using money donated to his inauguration fund for personal gain. Gov. Don Seigelman (D) has spent several years in federal prison for his actions while Governor; but his trial and conviction occurred after he had left office.
Gov. Bentley admits having an “inappropriate relationship” with top political aide Rebekah Caldwell Mason; but denies that he did anything illegal or even physical. The then First Lady Dianne Bentley recorded the now infamous telephone conversation in August of 2014. She demanded that the Governor end the relationship with Mrs. Mason. He adamantly refused. She filed for divorce a year later.
Presumably to cover up the affair, the Governor’s office attempted to sabotage the prosecution of Mike Hubbard by ordering Alabama Law Enforcement Agency Secretary Spencer Collier to refuse to give the Attorney General’s office a requested affidavit in the case. After defying Gov. Bentley, Collier was put on leave. Bentley appointed his bodyguard, Stan Stabler, to head ALEA on an interim basis. Stabler claims to have discovered wrongdoing by top ALEA officials so fired or transferred six. An angry Collier denounced Bentley and Mason and exposed the affair. Bentley fired Collier who is reportedly about to Sue Bentley.
Zeigler has been an outspoken critic of Gov. Bentley since elected in 2014.