Friday, State Auditor Jim Zeigler (R) announced that his state Auditor’s offices, which had been served an eviction notice by the state Legislature, has signed a lease for space in the building housing the Alabama Ethics Commission.
On Friday, April 13, Alabama State Auditor Jim Zeigler received legal notice that the state auditors were losing their office space in the Alabama State House. The working offices of the auditors had been in the State House since July 2007, but Zeigler received notice that they would have to move out by September 30, 2018, the last day of the 2018 fiscal year. The Alabama Legislative Council, which controls office space in the State House, legally notified Zeigler April 13 that his lease would not be renewed.
“This move is in order to expand the facilities available for legislative purposes,” the notice stated.
Zeigler said that he has been looking for a place to move his auditors since the notice of non-renewal.
An agreement to sub-lease unused space at the Alabama Ethics Commission was negotiated and finalized June 29. The sub-lease is for 744 square feet on the 3rd floor of the RSA Union Building. The space, leased by the ethics commission, has been partially vacant. Zeigler’s rent is $682 a month in 2018 and $697.50 a month in 2019 and 2020, and $713 a month in 2021.
Zeigler’s sub-lease was approved by Tom Albritton, director of the Ethics Commission, and Dr. David Bronner, CEO of the Retirement Systems of Alabama which owns the building and holds the principal lease for the Ethics Commission space.
“We are a small agency with low costs to Alabama taxpayers,” Zeigler said. “We get a lot done with little space and little staff.”
The Auditor’s main duty is to do property inventory on the over one billion dollars of state-owned property items valued at over $500 per item – state cars, computers, furniture and other movable property.
Zeigler has also declared himself to be a “watchman against government waste and mismanagement.”
That new role quickly put Zeigler into conflict with then Governor Robert Bentley (R) and the Montgomery establishment. Then Attorney General Luther Strange (R) halted a Zeigler investigation into alleged misuse of state property by Bentley, allegedly using state planes, helicopters, vehicles, and personnel to facilitate an alleged affair with married former staffer, Rebekah Caldwell Mason. Bentley retaliated with deep budget cuts to the Auditor’s office, cuts that were passed by the legislature. Undeterred, Zeigler pressed the House to impeach the governor. Zeigler then filed a complaint with the Alabama Ethics Commission, which after a lengthy investigation of its own found that there was probable cause to believe Bentley broke Alabama ethics and campaign finance laws. Bentley resigned five days later when the House Judiciary Committee began hearings on impeachment.
The Auditors have to be in their news offices in the RSA Union Building by October 1.
Zeigler faces general election opposition from Miranda Karrine Joseph (D) on November 6.