By: Ed Cason, AL.com
Gov. Robert Bentley
State Rep. Ed Henry, following through on plans he announced last week, outlined articles of impeachment he will introduce against Gov. Robert Bentley. The governor said he would vigorously defend himself against a move he called a “political attack.”
Henry, a Republican from Hartselle, was joined at a news conference today by Rep. Craig Ford, D-Gadsden, minority leader in the House, and Reps. Mike Ball, R-Madison and David Standridge, R-Hayden. The five-page resolution charges Bentley with willful neglect of duty, corruption in office, incompetency and offenses of moral turpitude.
“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.”
Henry said he would not seek a vote on the resolution today but hoped for a vote next week.If the House approves the resolution, it would refer the charges to the Senate, which would hold a trial on whether to remove the governor from office.
Bentley has come under fire after the release of audio tapes of his sexually suggestive comments to former senior political adviser Rebekah Caldwell Mason, who resigned last week.
The governor says he has no plans to resign and has done nothing to warrant removal from office. Bentley released a statement this afternoon saying he would vigorously defend himself and there are no grounds for impeachment. He called today’s press confererence “political grandstanding.”
“There is a lot of work to do before I end my term in office in 2019,” Bentley said. “I have laid out a strategic plan for success, and I will continue to focus my efforts on making Alabama a great state.”That is what the people of Alabama overwhelmingly elected and re-elected me to do. I will continue to work hard for them every day.”
It’s unclear how much support there is for the impeachment resolution and whether it has time to be resolved with 12 meeting days left in the legislative session.
Rep. Mac McCutcheon, chairman of the Rules Committee, told the Associated Press that Henry’s impeachment resolution would be accompanied by a resolution establishing an investigatory commission, which would examine if there are grounds for impeachment.
Rep. Ford, minority leader in the House, said the impeachment resolution was not a partisan issue. “This is not about the governor’s personal conduct. This is about the allegations against him, including that he obstructed justice within the Alabama state law enforcement agency,” Ford said.
“We believe there is enough probable cause to warrant asking the state Senate to try this case, and if guilty, remove the governor from office.”
Former state Law Enforcement Secretary Spencer Collier has accused Bentley of telling him to lie to the attorney general’s office about the status of an investigation. Collier made allegations about Bentley on the same day the governor fired him. The governor said he has not told any employees or cabinet members to lie.
At today’s news conference, Ball said the impeachment resolution was an effort to use one of the checks and balances of governments to resolve a “crisis of confidence.