Why is Impeachment Taking So Long? We don’t want to pay for Governor Bentley’s defense.
July 7, 2016
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“Bentley had 87 staffers sign secrecy agreements” “Alabama Governor Sex Scandal Now has Flight Logs”, “Gov. Bentley’s ‘dark money’ group” “Gov. Bentley took ‘defacto first lady’ on White House Dinner Date” “Mason Seeks to Avoid Incriminating Herself in Criminal Investigation” “Governor Bentley’s office reportedly under investigation on federal and state level.”
 
And, these headlines are only the tip of the iceberg. You’ve seen them all (and have probably forgotten more than you remember). It would be honorable before God and before the people of this State for Governor Robert Bentley to resign. But, he hasn’t and yesterday’s headline was even more distressing: we get to pay for the defense of a man who’s cheated on his wife, cheated on the State, broken multiple campaign promises, and allegedly sinking amid investigations on federal and state levels.
 
Governor Bentley and ALEA Sec. Stan Stabler will be using state money (money from taxpayers) to hire attorneys for their defense in court at $195 an hour up to $200,000 — when a responsible House would have sent impeachment to the Senate weeks ago. That $200,000 will go to Maynard, Cooper, and Gale — the same law firm that recently seemed offended by former House Speaker Mike Hubbard’s conviction and the same law firm whose members nodded their heads when any complication to the impeachment process was suggested during the committee meeting several weeks back.
 
Had resignation or impeachment moved forward as it should have in the Spring, we would be spared these headlines, these distractions, this unnecessary use of our money. Realizing that nothing happens on accident in #alpolitics and that there are often six digits behind every move, it’s natural for us to ask why it is that Governor Bentley is still in office? Are powerful lobbyists convinced for some reason or other that Governor Bentley should remain? Are the legislators complicating things because they really don’t think the Governor needs to be impeached? Or are lobbyists complicating things? Or maybe legislators are complicating the process because of the lobbyists (whether directly or indirectly)?
 
Whatever the reason, don’t be duped. Constitutional impeachment is not that complicated. Either legislators believe the Governor should be impeached or they don’t. They vote yes or they vote no. Impeachment doesn’t require a crime. (After all, if the Governor was a convicted criminal, he’d be removed from office automatically.) Impeachment is a political action accomplished by citizen legislators who believe that a constitutional officer is no longer fit or competent to lead the State, who believe that their constituents no longer trust the one whom they elected to make executive decisions in the State. If, by chance, some legislator took impeachment lightly by bringing far-fetched Articles, those Articles would be overwhelmingly voted down in the House, they’d never make it to the Senate for a legislative trial, and that legislator would be embarrassed before his colleagues and his constituents. All that to say, the impeachment of Governor Bentley is not a far-fetched idea so why the costly and embarrassing delay?
 
From the simple requirements of the Alabama Constitution for the impeachment process featuring Articles signed by one legislator, voted on by the House, and sent to the Senate for trial, the Articles initiated by Representative Ed Henry (R-Hartselle) have been given an increasingly complicated path — replete with committees, the governor’s lawyers, sub-committees, and outside counsel. We have former speaker, Mike Hubbard (R-Auburn), Representative Mac McCutcheon (R-Huntsville), Representative Matt Fridy (R-Birmingham), and Representative Mike Jones Jr (R-Andalusia) to thank for this.
 
I get that we need to have a process and that such an action is largely unprecedented. But, a process is only what one makes it. Why is the Judiciary Committee involved anyway? Why was the two-hour committee discussion a few weeks back largely focused on red-herrings raised by the Governor’s lawyers and precedent from Illinois? Why is it July 6th and the Judiciary Committee and consequent sub-committees are still turning their wheels while the Governor’s defense bill threatens to eat State money and business executives can’t find one headline proving they should trust Alabama’s top Executive? Why do we have a sub-committee finding special counsel (?) to hire for the Judiciary Committee? Sure – get counsel! But, we hire our legislators to do legislative tasks like this. While we’re at it, it’s great to be careful and learn from others but, since when have we cared how Illinois did things?
 
There is no doubt that some – whether they’re the Governor’s friends in high places, big money lobbyists, or legislators with skeletons in the closet – are doing all that they can to be sure impeachment never happens. Would you all make life easier, let the Articles come up for a vote, and vote NO if you don’t think the Governor should be impeached? The fact that you’re complicating impeachment under the seeming facade of working on it, suggests that each of you know quite well what is right, what is best for Alabama, and what the people want but, that you are too afraid to communicate that your loyalties lie elsewhere.
 
Just an observation –I hope I’m wrong.
— G.H.
Published July 6, 2016
Copyright The Goat Hill Observer

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