Governor Bentley rides the impeachment seesaw

Sometimes he’s up, sometimes he’s down. When it comes to a possible impeachment of Alabama Governor Robert Bentley, things teeter one way, and then they don’t. Or vice versa.

Governor Robert Bentley by Jamie Martin, via the Governor’s office.

This week, two members of the Alabama House of Representatives filed a resolution to impeach Governor Bentley, citing misuse of state funds, failure to hold a timely special election and ethical violations in regards to his relationship with former political advisor, Rebekah Mason.

Bentley has been accused of having an affair with Mason and using state funds to facilitate it. Secret recordings between the two were released. The Governor has denied any wrongdoing. Yes, it’s a mess. But, let’s get back to that seesaw.

Reps. Corey Harbison, R-Cullman, and Randall Shedd, R-Fairview, via The Cullman Times

After a “lengthy” talk with Bentley, Reps. Corey Harbison, R-Cullman, and Randall Shedd, R-Fairview, decided to put the impeachment resolution that they drafted on hold. This isn’t the first time an impeachment has been requested, and it’s not the first time one has been put on hold. Are you getting dizzy yet?

Last year, the House Judiciary Committee  looked into impeaching Bentley, too. They initiated a probe and sought subpoenas. That investigation came to a halt back in November, though, when then Attorney General Luther Strange wrote a letter to the Alabama House Judiciary committee, urging them to stop their impeachment proceedings. They did.

Former Attorney General Luther Strange, now a Senator, appointed by Governor Robert Bentley, right. Photo via US News & World Report.

Media outlets reported that Attorney General Strange asked for the suspension because he was conducting an investigation of his own. Strange later denied any investigation.

Former AG Strange was then appointed to fill the Senate seat of Jeff Sessions, who was recently confirmed as the United States Attorney General under President Trump. That left the stalled investigation up in the air and political pundits, both local and national, scratching their heads over what was going to happen next. Can you keep up? Or down? It’s quite a ride.

To fill former AG Strange’s seat, Governor Bentley appointed Marshall County District Attorney Steve Marshall.

Attorney General Steve Marshall and Governor Robert Bentley. Photo via WKRG.

In the wake of the latest impeachment developments, newly-appointed Attorney General Marshall has now recused himself from any investigation into the Governor. And, we’re down again.

House Speaker Mac McCutheon, R-Capshaw, released the following statement on the issue:

“Because an impeachment resolution has been filed, the House has a constitutional duty to gather needed information, examine the facts and take a public vote on whether to forward articles of impeachment to the Senate. As a retired law enforcement officer, I am hesitant to take any immediate action that would impede, hamper, or compromise an on-going investigation being led by the Attorney General’s Office. But, as Speaker of the House, I am determined that we will fulfill our constitutional obligation.”

The key word here is “filed”. Since a resolution was filed, the House must, by law, perform an investigation. That means the seesaw is back up, but who knows how long it will stay there.