State Rep. Juandalynn Givan, D-Birmingham, said Thursday that if he is guilty of the allegations made on Wednesday, that Secretary of State John Merrill, a Republican, should resign.
A former girlfriend of Merrill has come public on a rightwing news website about an affair she had with the Alabama secretary of state. In the interview, she alleges that Merrill made racist comments during their discussions.
“I am of the opinion that the woman is telling the truth,” Givan added. “We take these allegations very seriously.”
“It is not our business, as I said in the Robert Bentley business years ago, what he does in his personal life,” Givan said. “Regarding state issues, there should be a hard look to see if the secretary of state has broken any state laws.”
Givan said that the alleged racist comments by Merrill are most “troubling.”
“He holds one of the highest offices in the state,” Givan stated. “This was pillow talk. This was not a drive-by moment.”
“He has had an excellent relationship with the Black community,” Givan said of Merrill. “I served in the House of Representatives with John Merrill.”
“We have children online trying to get an understanding of what a sex toy is,” Givan said. “That is despicable.”
“As a lawyer, I try my best to be as fair as possible,” Givan said. “Being as a woman, being a woman of color, I do believe that those things were said.”
Givan said that she was troubled by Merrill’s “quick” acknowledgment of the illicit affair: “But he didn’t say anything about Black folks?”
“Why not say it?” Givan asked. “This is a woman who has laid in the bed that his wife has slept in.”
Givan said that Merrill should resign “if it is true or if there has been any misuse of government property.”
“It would be in the betterment of Alabama,” Givan said. “It is an embarrassment to the state, to his wife, to his son, to his children. If that had been me. they would have done asked me to resign.”
Givan was asked if a member was going to bring an article of impeachment against Merrill.
“I am hearing some rumblings,” Givan said. “I am sure that there will be hard discussions. I am sure there will be some hard discussions in the Republican Party as well. It would be in John’s best interest if he really loved this state he would step down.”
Givan said that Merrill’s alleged racist comments are a cause for concern “especially with the racially charged bills that are coming down. It makes me wonder as a citizen, as a woman, as a Black woman.”
“The racial issue was critical,” Givan said.
If an article of impeachment resolution was brought against Merrill it would be referred to the House Judiciary Committee under rules set up in 2016 for former Gov. Robert Bentley’s impeachment. Bentley resigned on the first day of formal impeachment hearings.
State Rep. Jim Hill, R-Odenville, chairs the House Judiciary Committee. APR asked Hill what his position was if an impeachment resolution is brought against Merrill. “No, I have not heard that, and I don’t want to hear that,” Hill said. Hill asked “on what grounds” an impeachment article would be brought on against Merrill. “That is a bridge we will cross, if and when we get there,” Hill said.
Merrill has already announced that he will not be a candidate for any public office in 2022. He is term-limited as secretary of state. His term will end in January.