(Quin Hillyer, Liberty Headlines) With Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley earning international headlines by resigning Monday in the wake of a scandal involving sex, misreporting of campaign finances, and multiple allegations of misuse of state resources along with illegal intimidation tactics, all three branches of Alabama government have seen top officials evicted in the past year.
All three officials were Republicans, leaving the party’s officeholders in bad odor at a time, ironically, when the state party itself at the organizational and elective levels is seeing such record success that the entire, 22-member state Steering Committee was re-elected in March.
Bentley becomes the second Alabama Republican governor in a quarter-century to resign due to ethics violations, following Guy Hunt in 1993. More recently, former Democratic Gov. Don Siegelman was released in February from six years in a federal penitentiary for a bribery conviction after he lost a re-election bid in 2002.
The other officials ousted in the past year were state Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore and House Speaker Mike Hubbard. Moore was suspended last September, on the grounds that he violated state ethics guidelines by issuing a directive to state probate judges to ignore federal court orders to award same-sex marriage licenses. (Moore had been evicted from the same post 13 years earlier after directly defying federal court orders to remove a 5,280-pound monument of the Ten Commandments from the state courthouse – but then was elected again in 2012.) Three weeks ago, Moore won the right to an expedited appeal of his suspension.
Hubbard, meanwhile, was convicted last June on ethics charges for co-mingling his business affairs with his lawmaking actions.
But neither of those scandals was as salacious or multi-faceted as Bentley’s…..
[later in the article]….
From there the story took far too many strange twists and turns to recount here, but one stands out. With the state House of Representatives having opened an investigation as part of a potential impeachment process, state attorney general Luther Strange – also a Republican – suddenly asked legislators to suspend their inquiry in November because it might interfere with an investigation his own office was conducting. The lawmakers complied. Later, when U.S. Sen. Jeff Sessions was nominated by President Trump to be U.S. Attorney General, Strange said (strangely) that his unspecified probe might not involve Bentley at all.
Strange did not explain how a House impeachment inquiry concerning the governor could have interfered with an AG’s investigation if the latter proceedings had nothing to do with the governor.
With one probe suspended and the other murky at best, Gov. Bentley then appointed Strange to fill the Senate seat vacated by Sessions. On April 6, seven Alabamans officially asked for an ethics probe into that appointment, suggesting an illicit deal between Bentley and Strange.