By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter
On Thursday, April 28, State Representative Ed Henry (R-Hartselle) successfully resurrected his effort to impeach embattled Alabama Governor Robert Bentley (R) when he announced that he had reached the 21 signatures necessary to reintroduce his impeachment resolutions against Bentley, who has been charged with misusing state resources while committing adultery with his top political aide and alleged misstress, Mrs. Rebekah Caldwell Mason
In addition to Ed Henry, Representatives: Isaac Whorton (R-Valley), David Sessions (R-Grand Bay), Mike Ball (R-Madison), Jim Patterson (R-Meridianville), Tommy Hanes (R-Bryant), Ritchie Whorton (R-Owens Cross Roads), Mike Holmes (R-Wetumpka), David Standridge (R-Oneonta), Barry Moore (R-Elba), Danny Crawford (R-Athens), Allen Farley (R-Pleasant Grove), Jack W. Williams (R-Georgetown), Will Ainsworth (R-Guntersville), Craig Ford (D-Gadsden), Patricia Todd (D-Birmingham), Margie Wilcox (R-Mobile), Mack Butler (R-Gadsden), Becky Nordgren (R-Gadsden), Phil Williams (R-Harvest), Johnny Mack Morrow (D-Red Bay), Reed Ingram (R-Montgomery), and Arnold Mooney (R-Birmingham) have all signed the new impeachment resolution.
On Tuesday, April 26, the House passed a resolution, sponsored by Rep. Matt Fridy (R-Montevallo), establishing a new procedure for impeaching someone, which made impeachment more difficult. The House voted 72 to 19 to adopt Rep. Paul Beckman’s amendment to require 63 votes in the 105-member House to impeach someone. That is the same as a constitutional amendment. The House also adopted Rep. Mac McCutcheon’s amendment 79 to 10 to raise the threshold to introduce an impeachment resolution from 10 to 21 signatures.
Rep. Henry had introduced his resolution with just 11 signatures. Rep. Henry said that passage of the 21 signature requirement after his resolution to impeach Governor Bentley had already been introduced put his resolution in “legal limbo.”
State Representative Alvin Holmes (D-Montgomery) said, “There ain’t no law against having a girlfriend” and vowed to expose twelve members of the House for adultery (or worse) if the House made any move to impeach Gov. Bentley, even though he said in the same speech that he does not like Bentley and thinks he is a racist.
House leaders said that the rewriting of the impeachment rules were necessary so that impeachment would not become a political weapon and that it was too easy under the old rules to introduce an impeachment resolution, even though it has been over a hundred years since the Alabama House of Representatives has dealt with impeaching anyone.
Undeterred by all of the delaying tactics that the House leadership has thrown in the way, Rep. Henry went out and got the 21 signatures plus two extra. Rep. Johnnie Mack Morrow (D-Red Bay) asked to be the twenty first signature. Morrow has filed an ethics complaint against Bentley charging that the Governor vetoed legislation sponsored by Morrow because Bentley’s alleged mistress was angry at him because she failed the government class he taught twenty years ago.
Rep. Henry introduced his new impeachment resolution that complies with the new rules. The matter is now referred to the House Judiciary Committee which has until May 26, to issue a recommendation on whether or not the full House will come back to vote on impeachment.
Under the new rule, it would take 63 votes, instead of a simple majority, to pass the impeachment charges. If the House passes the resolution, it would then go to the Alabama Senate which would hold a formal trial to determine whether or not Gov. Bentley is guilty of the offenses for which he has been charged. The Senate could remove him from office. If that were to happen Lieutenant Governor Kay Ivey (R) would replace Bentley as Governor.
Speaker of the House Mike Hubbard (R-Auburn) who is facing a criminal trial on alleged ethics violations next month joked to Henry that we should make impeachment the state fruit.
Henry responded to that remark: “What would we make indictments?”
Original reporting by the Alabama Media Group’s Mike Cason contributed to this report.