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Is Wednesday the beginning of the end for Robert Bentley?

By Josh Moon
Alabama Political Reporter

People at the Alabama State House like to know things.

Even when they don’t know things, they don’t mind at all if you happen to think that they know something. Anything, really.

With that in mind, there are a lot of people at the State House who know things about Gov. Robert Bentley’s impeachment.

They know that the House will definitely probably vote to impeach the Governor later this month. And they know that the Senate will then definitely probably sit on that impeachment process until the end of the session.

Or maybe neither body will do any of those things – the people at the State House know that too.

Ross Garber is Bentley’s attorney and he knows a thing or two.

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But mostly he knows, and he thinks the House Judiciary Committee should also know, that the governor is really getting the shaft in this impeachment process setup crafted by special counsel Jack Sharman.

Sharman actually does know some stuff, but he’s not going to tell any of us about it until he puts it in a report and releases it at 4:59 on Friday afternoon.

For some reason, Garber seems to think that he knows what’s in Sharman’s report, because at a news conference on Tuesday he kept referring to secret information that was told to “Sharman’s associate” that’s going to be included in the allegations against Bentley.

On the other hand, Garber might not know anything, and I say that because he literally said, “I have no idea what’s going to be in (Sharman’s) report.”

So, toss up.

But we all know that Garber’s definitely unhappy. For the second time in less than a week, he summoned reporters to room 217 in the State House for a Q&A and to give us stuff he had sent to the Judiciary Committee. This time, Garber wanted to show the impeachment hearing schedule he created. It allows for the cross-examination of witnesses and a thorough review of evidence, and also could bring an end to the process sooner than Sharman’s timeline.

Speaking of that Sharman schedule, if there’s one thing that Garber knows, it’s that that timeline created by Sharman is a real thumb in the eye to the people who care about due process and fairness.

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And if there’s another thing Garber knows, it’s that the committee is not filled with people who would willingly violate the law (the “law” in this instance being Bentley’s right to due process). Garber actually stated that during his press conference.

Poor thing. He apparently doesn’t know that the committee is filled with Alabama House members.

But what Garber should absolutely know is that it doesn’t matter how much of a fuss he raises about the Governor’s mistreatment. This whole process will probably be determined by what happens Wednesday morning at the Alabama Ethics Commission.

That Commission is set to announce its findings related to allegations – from a variety of sources – that Bentley misused State funds to facilitate and conceal an affair with a former staffer, and that he violated ethics laws by paying the staffer with dark money and accepting a contribution outside of the allowed time period.

One person who knows all of that is the man who, along with others, filed those complaints against Bentley, Alabama State Auditor Jim Ziegler. In an email to media on Tuesday, Ziegler made it clear that despite the threat of tornadoes, he would be at the Ethics Commission and ready to testify if called.

One thing I know: there will be cameras and reporters present, which means Jim Ziegler would fight through a tornado and a wild tiger and be in attendance to testify if the location of this hearing was the summit of Mt. Everest. And he’d do it while wearing an absurdly patriotic tie.

One more thing I know: By the end of Wednesday’s Ethics Commission meeting, we’ll all know a whole lot more about Robert Bentley’s future as Governor in this State.

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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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