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The terrible optics of appointing Strange to the US Senate

By Josh Moon
Alabama Political Reporter

Gov. Robert Bentley announced Thursday morning that any attorney general’s office investigation into his possible misdeeds is now over.

The Governor didn’t use those exact words.

Instead, he said he was appointing AG Luther Strange to take over the US Senate seat vacated by new US Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

And one means the other. If not in reality, certainly in perception.

Thursday’s press conference, in which Strange and Bentley ducked questions about the investigation, with Strange again making the odd statement that he’s never said his office was investigating the Governor – a statement that’s the textbook definition of a non-denial denial – and Bentley citing the pre-Trump election timing of a letter from Strange that halted impeachment proceedings against the Governor.

Of course, that letter asked the proceedings to stop because Strange said it could interfere with matters his office was investigating. Members of the impeachment committee told the media that the AG’s office was conducting its own investigation of Bentley, and that’s why they were asked to stop.

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APR’s Bill Britt has reported on sightings of the Governor and his security details heading into meet with a grand jury.

All of it related to Bentley’s “inappropriate relationship” with his former staffer, Rebekah Mason, who was in attendance at Bentley’s State of the State address on Tuesday evening. Mason and her husband, who heads up Bentley’s Office of Faith Based Initiatives, also accompanied Bentley to Trump’s inauguration in DC last month.

It’s like an episode of the old TV show “Dallas,” except none of us will wake up to find Bobby in the shower and realize it was all a dream.

Instead, we get to keep right on living with this national embarrassment.

It doesn’t matter how many times Bentley and Strange talked about their long-standing friendship. Or how many times the two dismissed questions about an investigation of the Governor.

It doesn’t matter whether any of that is actually true.

Because in this particular instance, perception is reality. And that perception/reality is that Bentley just killed an investigation into his dealings by appointing the AG to the US Senate.

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That’s the sort of thing that voters remember come election time.

Josh Moon is an investigative reporter and featured columnist at the Alabama Political Reporter with years of political reporting experience in Alabama. You can email him at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter.

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