By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter
Tuesday, October 25,2016 Alabama State Auditor Jim Zeigler (R) said that with two week to go before the election the wording of Amendment 6 on the Nov. 8 ballot is “completely insufficient.”
Auditory Zeigler, who opposes the controversial amendment six, said, “Voters cannot tell that it would make it almost impossible to impeach Gov. Bentley.”
Amendment 6 changes the state senate vote to convict an official on an impeachment charge from a simple majority to a difficult to achieve two-thirds majority.
Zeigler claims that you would never know that by reading the wording on the ballot, which is:
“PROPOSED STATEWIDE AMENDMENT NUMBER SIX (6) Proposing an amendment to the Constitution of Alabama of 1901, to become operative January 1, 2017, to repeal and replace Article VII, Impeachments. (Proposed by Act No. 2015-199) YES-Statewide Amendment No. 6 NO-Statewide Amendment No. 6.”
Zeigler asked, “Where does it let the voter know that the impeachment vote would be raised from a majority to a super-majority of two-thirds? Nowhere.”
The outspoken state Auditor said that, “The wording of Amendment 6 is misleading and irresponsible.”
Zeigler says he will vote no on Amendment Six and is encouraging others to do the same.
“It is difficult already to get the legislature to impeach and convict Gov. Bentley. If the rules are changed now to raise the vote required to impeach to two-thirds, it would make it almost impossible to impeach him. With the election two weeks away, it will be tough to get the word around that Amendment Six would make impeachment almost impossible. With no money for advertising, I will use news media and social media.”
Zeigler said, “There are 14 proposed constitutional amendments on the Nov. 8th statewide ballot. Because I will lead the ‘vote no’ campaign on Amendment Six, I will not make recommendations at this time on the others. That could cause confusion. I will later post information on all the amendments on my Facebook page, ‘Zeigler: Waste Cutter.’”
The legislature claims that they were modernizing the impeachment provision of the 1901 Constitution anyway and that it is just a coincidence that this amendment making it harder to impeach any public official appeared on the ballot in the midst of the entire Bentley-Mason sex scandal and that there is a criminal grand jury investigating the embattled Governor.
Critics of the legislature point out that the Alabama House of Representatives has not impeached anyone since 1915, the Secretary of State, and even then the Senate did not convict. They also point out that the Speaker of the House at the time this was passed was Mike Hubbard (R from Auburn), who was facing 23 indictments for criminal ethics violations so had a vested interest in making it much harder to impeach any elected official, including himself. Hubbard has since been found guilty by a jury of his peers and was removed by law. Critics also question why this amendment strips the legislature of the power to impeach a state school superintendent.
State Senator Paul Bussman (R-Cullman) still supports amendment six and is urging voters to vote “yes” on Amendment Six. Sen. Bussman wrote, “Impeachment is a very serious process. It should require 2/3 vote. The State school board should also be included in this process. I will vote yes.”
Zeigler has been a very vocal critic of Gov. Bentley and the impeachment process that has been stuck in the House Judiciary Committee since May.
Voters will get to decide on whether or not to ratify amendment six when they go to vote on November 8.