Legislators say they would not support impeachment

Published 4:58 pm Wednesday, April 6, 2016

By Neal Wagner | Shelby County Reporter

A Republican state representative has filed a resolution in the state’s House of Representatives to begin the impeachment process against Republican Gov. Robert Bentley.

During a press conference Tuesday in Montgomery featuring a bipartisan group of state legislators, state Rep. Ed Henry, R-Hartselle, outlined the resolution he has submitted to a House committee to consider in the coming days.

“We’ve never done this before. We’ve never tried to impeach a governor,” Henry said during the press conference. “We have had the impeachment process one time in 1915, and we’re basically building off of that. So it’s going to be a process, but the process starts today.”

After Henry files the resolution calling for the House to issue articles of impeachment, the resolution will be considered by the House Rules Committee. If the resolution passes out of the committee, it will be considered by the full House.

If the House approves the resolution outlining its grounds for impeachment against Bentley, the Alabama Senate will then serve as “a court of impeachment” with Chief Justice Roy Moore presiding, according to the state Constitution.

State Rep. Jimmy Martin, R-Clanton, said he does not think Bentley will be impeached, based on conversations with colleagues.

Martin said he does not support the effort to impeach the governor.

“I’m not in favor of removing him because he made a mistake and he’s apologized for his mistake,” Martin said.

Henry’s resolution claims Bentley has shown “willful neglect of duty, corruption in office, incompetency and offenses of moral turpitude.”

Bentley, who was originally elected governor in 2010 and re-elected in 2014, has admitted to making inappropriate comments to his former senior political advisor, Rebekah Mason, who has since resigned from the position.

“We’re looking at this governor who has essentially betrayed the trust of the people of Alabama through actions and lies that have caused us to have some doubt about his leadership,” Henry said. “And as such, the only course the people of Alabama have to address this issue is through the impeachment process.”

Bentley said Henry’s press conference “is nothing more than political grandstanding intended to grab headlines and take the focus away from the important issues the Legislature still has to address before the end of the session.”

“There are no grounds for impeachment, and I will vigorously defend myself and my administration from this political attack,” Bentley wrote in a statement.

State Sen. Cam Ward, R-Alabaster, who represents part of Chilton County, said he would not be in favor of impeaching Bentley unless Bentley committed a criminal act.

“It’s an ugly personal ordeal, but I don’t think anyone has proven yet that any crimes were committed. There are criminal investigations ongoing right now, and I think we need to follow those investigations,” Ward said. “(Impeachment) is a very high bar. If you start impeaching people just because of actions in their personal life, I think that’s a very slippery slope.

“I certainly don’t condone what he did in his personal life, but I’m not going to judge him for it either.”

The Clanton Advertiser Managing Editor Stephen Dawkins contributed to this report.