By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter
Monday, August 8, 2016: State Auditor Jim Zeigler has asked that the House Judiciary Committee report at least one article of impeachment against Alabama Governor Robert Bentley, during the Special Session, that begins on August 15. Zeigler made the request to committee Chairman, Rep. Mike Jones (R-Andalusia) on Monday. Zeigler released the request in a speech to the Wetumpka Rotary Club on Tuesday.
Auditor Zeigler wrote, “I ask that you schedule a meeting of the House Judiciary Committee before or during the early stage of the August 15th special session. The purpose would be to consider at least one article of impeachment against Gov. Bentley. This would allow the full House to take up impeachment in the special session.”
The auditor continued, “There is widespread discouragement among Alabama citizens about the impeachment proceedings. Many believe that the impeachment proceedings are not moving ahead. The people want the air cleared on the Bentley administration sooner rather than later.”
Most legislature observers say, that former Speaker of the House, Mike Hubbard (R-Auburn), was skeptical of impeaching a sitting governor, and he slow rolled the process during the 2015 Legislative Session, so that nothing really got accomplished other than the legislature making it harder to impeach someone. House Rules Chairman, Mac McCutcheon (R-Madison), referred the articles of impeachment to the House Judiciary Committee near the end of the session.
On Friday, July 15, the Judiciary Committee met again to hire Jack Sharman to begin discovery on the allegations against Gov. Bentley, and begin collecting evidence. Chairman Jones said, that the next time the committee meets, it will be to collect evidence. Key players in the Bentley scandal including Gov. Bentley himself, and his alleged mistress, Rebekah Caldwell Mason, could be asked to testify.
The Attorney General’s office has called a special investigative Grand Jury, and the US Government has appointed a special prosecutor to look into the Bentley scandal. To this point, no one has been indicted for anything, that we are aware of, and we cannot say with certainty that Bentley is the target of either investigation.
Auditor Zeigler said that, “If an impeachment resolution is not reported out of your committee in time for consideration in the Special Session, it would likely mean that the full House would not take up impeachment until the February 7 regular session. That is simply too long to let this sore fester.”
Zeigler, who has been an outspoken critic of Gov. Bentley said, “I do not buy the notion that a committee consideration of impeachment at all deliberate speed is not doing it right. Nor do I buy that a slow process like the one now being done is a correct and deliberate process. Slowness does not mean doing it right and a speedy hearing does not mean doing it wrong.”
Zeigler concluded, “Please let me know if you will schedule a meeting of the judiciary committee to consider one or more impeachment articles. Thank you.”
The purpose of the Special Session is to consider a lottery to benefit the State General Fund.