In the original letter, Attorney General Strange stated his request to suspend the impeachment proceedings against Governor Bentley due to unspecified “related work” that he was doing. AG Strange has said that he requested the committee to halt their proceedings because it was a “very public matter.”
Governor Bentley, who has been mired in various scandals relating to his illicit affair with his senior political advisor, and subsequent divorce with his wife of over 50 years, is expected to announce his appointment shortly after Senator Sessions is confirmed. Whoever Bentley appoints will have a significant advantage in the election to fill that seat in 2018 – which Strange has already announced he is running for, regardless. Bentley has interviewed around 20 candidates for the position already, but has given no indication of his preference for the appointment.
Even more worrisome, many of the ethics complaints and possible causes for the impeachment proceedings against Governor Bentley are due to accusations by a former top law enforcement officer, among others, that Bentley has frequently abused his power as Governor to cover up his affair – specifically by appointing, promoting, and hiring people that were willing to cross some lines for him that are in a legal grey area, at best – and , at worst, felony ethics violations.
Alabama State Auditor Jim Zeigler spoke with The Resurgent this afternoon, and provided his take on the situation: “Strange gets the impeachment stopped. Then he interviews with Bentley for the appointment to the U.S. Senate. Now, the House impeachment committee is holding up impeachment waiting on the Luther Strange go-ahead. That is a clear and serious conflict of interest and Constitutional violation. Impeachment is a basic Constitutional duty of the State House of Representatives. Alabama has all the ingredients for a Gov. Rod Blagojevich situation. When an Illinois U.S. Senator named Obama was elected President of the US, Gov. Blagojevich tried to sell the US Senate appointment for his own benefit. Gov. Blagojevich is now in federal prison. He was impeached and is not eligible for release until 2024. This is eerily similar to what Luther Strange and Bentley are now doing.” Zeigler, a populist grassroots Conservative that has used his position as a bully pulpit to call out corruption across the state, is rumored to be considering a run for the Governor’s seat himself.
In the past year, Alabama has lost the heads of two branches of their government – Speaker of the House Mike Hubbard was convicted in June on several felony ethics charges, and Chief Justice of the Supreme Court Roy Moore was removed from office by the Alabama Court of the Judiciary in September for ordering lower court judges to not comply with the US Supreme Court’s ruling on gay marriage. If Governor Bentley is impeached before July, that means that the heads of all three branches of government in Alabama will have been removed from office on ethics charges in less than one year.
It’s important to note that, if AG Strange is appointed to the Senate, Governor Bentley will appoint the new Attorney General.
Update: The original article indicated that the quote in the second paragraph was from a second letter dated the 26th. That was a mistake, the letter was from November.