By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter
Tuesday, October 4, 2016, Alabama Governor Robert Bentley took to Twitter to announce: “My Administration is fully cooperative, but we will not go against The Constitution.”
The embattled Governor was referencing a WSFA Channel 12 (in Montgomery) news story written by Hannah Lane, in which Bentley denounces the Judiciary Committee’s subpoenas of him along with current and former members of his administration. Gov. Bentley called it “frightening” that the House Judiciary Committee would subpoena people to testify against him and his conduct, while they are investigating, possibly recommending impeachment to the full House.
The Governor has made national headlines for his “inappropriate relationship” with his aide, Mrs. Rebekah Caldwell Mason. Bentley said that he has nothing to hide and has cooperated with the committee, but called the fact gathering by the committee, an “illegitimate and unconstitutional process.”
Bentley told WSFA’s Hannah Lane that the people of Alabama believe in freedom, “And they don’t want government encroaching into their private lives.”
On Friday, July 15, the Judiciary Committee met and hired Jack Sharman to initiate discovery on the allegations against Gov. Bentley and begin collecting evidence. Key players in the Bentley scandal including Gov. Bentley himself and 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. The Alabama Ethics Commission is also investigating the Governor. So far, no indictments have been made.
The committee is reportedly looking into articles of impeachment against Gov. Bentley for Corruption and neglect of duty.
Some Bentley critics think the Judiciary Committee has already been too lenient to Bentley.
State Auditor Jim Zeigler, a vocal critic of Bentley, said in a statement that, ‘A speedy investigation and trial is needed. If it takes as long to investigate Bentley as it did Mike Hubbard (over two years), Bentley’s term would be almost over.”
Zeigler said, “The people of Alabama deserve to have the air cleared about the Bentley administration. They want and need impeachment sooner rather than later.”
The House Judiciary Committee chairman, Rep. Mike Jones (R-Andalusia) has said that once the evidentiary process begins, the committee may hold daily meetings until the work is complete. They will most likely make a recommendation on whether or not to indict Bentley to the full House of Representatives in the 2017 Regular Legislative Session.
If the full House votes to impeach the 73-year-old Governor, the Senate would hold a trial to determine guilt or innocence. If found guilty by the Senate they could remove or censure the Governor without removing him from office.
The Alabama Legislature has not impeached anyone since 1915 so there is very little case law on which to base an opinion on whether or not the House has subpoena powers.