By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter
Monday, April 25, State Auditor Jim Zeigler (R) issued a statement saying that the press and public can attend his questioning of Alabama Governor Robert Bentley (R), in regards to his inappropriate relationship with married subordinate, Mrs. Rebekah Caldwell Mason.
Zeigler said, his State Auditor’s meeting to receive documents from Gov. Robert Bentley, and take his testimony under oath, will be a public meeting.
State Auditor Jim Zeigler said, his research indicates that such a meeting would not fit under any recognized exception to public meeting laws, would be in public office space, and involve public officials and public documents.
Zeigler said, “It is the public’s business, and we will allow news media and citizens to attend.”
Zeigler has ordered Bentley to produce documents and give sworn testimony at 10 a.m., May 2, in the State Auditor’s office in the State Capitol Building.
Governor Bentley has told the press that he will not honor Zeigler’s summons. The Governor said in a statement, “The appropriate legal process is through the Alabama Ethics Commission, where the Auditor has already filed a complaint, and we are fully cooperating in every way. I do not intend to respond further to Mr. Zeigler.”
Despite the announcement from the Governor, Zeigler is continuing on as if there will be a hearing. The State Auditor is asking those desiring to attend the examination to e-mail his office with the number of attendees in each group. He says space is limited in the State Auditor’s office, and that a larger examination room may be needed.
Zeigler says he is now studying options to enforce the order if Bentley does not comply by May 2. The conservative auditor said, “We will take action after May 2, if the order is not complied with. Since I set the May 2 date and time for compliance, I cannot do anything until that time has passed.”
Zeigler, who is an attorney, is claiming that he has these powers under the Code of Alabama 36-16-2: “The Auditor has authority to require information on oath, to be administered by him, from any person touching any claim or account he is required to audit.”
Whether or not the Governor walks down the hall to the Auditor’s office, Zeigler said, “I will be in my office May 2 at 10 a.m. with a court reporter, and a Bible to swear in the Governor.”
Zeigler is investigating 11 areas of inquiry for which Gov. Bentley is required to produce documents, including: expenditures and flight and passenger manifests for State aircraft; Governor’s Discretionary Funds; Emergency Funds; Non-Disclosure and Confidentiality Agreements; Serve Alabama’s budget; visitor logs for The Blount Mansion; and any/all telephone records for phones used to communicate with Rebekah Caldwell Mason.