By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter
Tuesday, March 28, 2017, the Alabama House of Representatives released the Judiciary Committee’s schedule for the impeachment of Governor Robert Bentley.
The Special Counsel will release his report on April 7, 2017, and it will be made public by 5:00 pm. Hearings begin on April 10 and could run for days. The full House will not get the committee’s report until May 4, and that could, and likely will, be delayed by lawsuits and motions expected to be introduced by the Bentley defense team.
It would be May 9 before the full House could consider whether or not to accept the committee’s recommendations on Bentley’s impeachment. But, that would have to happen before the Senate could begin the process of acting on an impeachment resolution from the House, and we are still not sure what that all would entail.
We are still waiting on the Special Supreme Court to decide whether or not to restore Chief Justice Roy Moore. If restored, Moore will preside over the trial. If the Special Supreme Court votes to uphold Moore’s suspension, then acting Chief Justice Lynn Stewart would be the presiding judge. Presumably, Bentley would have at least thirty days to prepare a defense before the trial begins if impeached by the House.
State Auditor Jim Zeigler has been highly critical of the pace of the House Judiciary Committee, which has been working on this since last May. Auditor Zeigler said, “This impeachment schedule is far too close to the end of the Legislative Session. Gov. Bentley’s attorneys can simply run out the clock with scheduled objections and a possible lawsuit. Look for them to drag.” Zeigler warned, “If the Legislative Session ends with no impeachment by the State House, Governor Bentley will have dodged the impeachment bullet.”
Former Public Service Commissioner Terry Dunn was more confident in Bentley’s removal. Dunn told The Alabama Political Reporter: “I was told recently that they had the votes to impeach Bentley. So I guess we will see if they will follow through. Polls show that is the will of the people of Alabama. Bentley will resign when evidence is presented to avoid any further public humiliation, and there will be plenty.”
Governor Bentley will immediately be suspended from office if the House votes to impeach. Lt. Governor Kay Ivey would become the acting Governor.
Even if time runs out on the Regular Session, the Senate could hold a Special Session over the summer to consider whether or not Governor Bentley is guilty. The Senate could also find Bentley innocent of all charges and restore him to his office. They could find him guilty and recommend a more lenient sentence, like a reprimand.