Alabama governor asks court to halt impeachment process
- Author: Leroy Wright Apr 11, 2017,
Apr 11, 2017, 1:22
An Alabama state court on Friday rejected Governor Robert Bentley's request to block a legislative committee from releasing evidence about wrongdoing stemming from his relationship with a former aide to be used for impeachment proceedings.
The development was the latest in a wild week in Alabama politics as the Republican governor battled the Republican-controlled Alabama Legislature over his possible impeachment.
Governor Robert Bentley reiterates that he is not resigning during a news conference on the capitol steps in Montgomery, Ala., on Friday April 7, 2017.
In its ruling, the Supreme Court stayed a temporary restraining order issued by a circuit court judge on Friday that had halted the impeachment process until hearings could be held on Bentley's claim that lawmakers did not give enough time to present an adequate defense. He says he assumed these were communications with Rebekah Mason due to their timing in relation to phone calls between Mason and Governor Bentley, but he never actually saw Mason's name associated with these texts. Bentley said Monday that he had been humiliated as "embarrassing details" of his personal life were made public over the previous year.
The last-minute legal maneuvers come amid a damaging report released by the panel's special counsel, Jack Sharman. The report will be given to the House Judiciary Committee as the committee weighs whether to recommend impeaching Bentley. Bentley has acknowledged making personal mistakes but maintained he did nothing illegal or to merit his removal from office.
Attorney David Byrne told the judge that the governor is not being treated fairly in the quickly moving process.
Because of the Alabama Supreme Court's action, the impeachment hearings will proceed as originally scheduled at 10:00am Monday. Jones in a statement said it was a "great day for the Constitution of Alabama".
Sharman and Alabama Law Institute Director Othni Lathram argued in court Friday that the Constitution delegated powers to pursue impeachment entirely to the Alabama Legislature.
The committee's report accused Bentley of ordering state law enforcement officers to track down copies of an embarrassing recording that suggested an affair with Mason.
Impeachment hearings for Alabama Gov.
The governor's lawyer called the report an "amalgam of hearsay rumor and innuendo".
On Wednesday, the Alabama Ethics Commission found that Bentley probably violated ethics and campaign finance laws.