By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter
Thursday, March 6, 2017, US Senate President Pro Tem Del Marsh (R-Anniston) called on embattled Alabama Governor Robert Bentley (R) to resign in the aftermath of a damning finding by the Alabama Ethics Commission on Wednesday that Bentley probably committed four class B felonies consisting of one ethics violation and three violations of campaign finance laws. On Friday, Bentley faces the likelihood that even more sordid details of his relationship with former top political advisor and alleged mistress, Mrs. Rebekah Caldwell Mason, will be released with the lengthy report by special counsel Jack Sharman.
An impassioned Sen. Marsh said that we are at a point right now where we are stagnant in this State and that we have got a lot of important business that can’t get done because of the impeachment cloud that is hanging over Alabama.
Senate President Marsh said I hope the Governor would do what is best for the people of Alabama and step down. Marsh said that Bentley dragging this process out further: “Doesn’t do us any good…This has gone on long enough.”
Senator Marsh said that the Legislature still has not passed the budgets or the prison bill. “We have a problem in this State with overcrowding.” Marsh said that the prison bill faces possible rejection in the House and blamed it on, “The Governor’s inability to lead.”
Governor Bentley made his plan to borrow hundreds of millions of dollars in new thirty year bond debt to build four experimental max prisons part of his Great State 2020 plan
Marsh tried to distance the Bentley administration from the prison bill. Marsh said, “The prison bill that left this body was the Senate Prison bill.” Marsh said that the Bentley plan had too much bond indebtedness for the State and claimed that the Senate has brought that down to $320 million from Bentley’s $800 million construction request. Sen. Marsh said that the Senators worked on crafting that bill and they addressed vocational training and mental health concerns in the prison bill that passed the Senate and is now before the House.
State Representative Ed Henry (R-Hartselle) told reporters that he thought that the prison bill was, “on life support” in the House.
Sen. Marsh said that Bentley does not have the ability to lead anymore and blamed a combination of this scandal and his personality. Marsh said, “I have not talked to the Governor in weeks.” Marsh said that Bentley does not communicate with the Legislature.
Marsh joins state Auditor Jim Zeigler (R), Rural Caucus Chairman David Standridge (R from Hayden), Rep. Henry, former Public Service Commissioner Terry Dunn (R), and other Republican leaders in calling for Bentley to end this and resign.
Former Commissioner Dunn said in his own statement, Alabama’s reputation for corrupt politicians unfortunately continues. I’m not surprised by the charges brought forth by the State Ethics Committee, they were long overdue. Bentley and his hypocrisy has been an embarrassment to the State and the people of Alabama. The State Ethics Committee should be commended for sending a message to politicians that Alabamians deserve better from their elected officials and no one is above the law. I have been calling for Bentley to resign since 2015. Bentley needs to go now to lesson the cost to the State.”
Speaker of the House Mac McCutcheon (R-Monrovia) did not join that chorus and said that that the Governor has got to make that decision.
Bentley has since rejected calls for him to resign to spare the State any more unpleasantness. Bentley’s legal team disputes the findings of the Ethics Commission and dismissed the charges as not rising to the level of importance necessary for impeachment.
We have been told that the Sharman report will be released on Friday at 5:00 pm.
The impeachment hearings before the House Judiciary Committee begin on Monday at 10:00 am in room 200 of the State House.
Sen. Marsh reportedly is contemplating a run for the Governor’s office in 2018. Bentley is term limited from running again even if he somehow survives the impeachment hearings and the three ongoing criminal investigations.