Calls for the governor’s impeachment are picking up steam and at least one local lawmaker says its unlikely Robert Bentley could survive a vote in the state senate.
In his press conference last week, Bentley denied he had broken any laws. There are three active investigations into the governor’s office, one by federal agents, one by the Alabama Attorney General’s Office, and one by the Alabama Ethics Commission.
But even if Bentley hasn’t done anything illegal, that might not be enough to keep him from being impeached.
“I have never had a physical affair with Mrs. Mason,” Bentley said last Wednesday.
If lawmakers don’t believe that statement, they could impeach Bentley and remove him from office.
The Alabama Constitution says, “The Governor…. may be removed from office…. For any offense involving moral turpitude while in office….”
Moral turpitude would include adultery.
Recordings released last week of an August, 2014 phone conversation between Bentley would seem to indicate the two were having a physical relationship. Bentley, however, has denied a physical affair.
Speaking in Russellville today, the Governor reiterated that he won’t resign. If he doesn’t leave office voluntarily, though, he could be forced out.
“Within a day or two of when we got back last week, there was no one talking about impeachment,” said Sen. Rusty Glover, R-Semmes. “Now, I’m hearing there’s a really strong possibility of that.”
The legislature resumes from spring break next Tuesday. Any of the 105 house members could ask for a vote on impeachment. Wednesday, Rep. Ed Henry, R-Morgan County, said he would do so.
According to the Article VII, Section 173 of the Alabama Constitution, a vote would have to take place in 10-15 days. A majority, 53 votes, would send articles of impeachment to the Senate where a trial would have to begin within 10 days.
A simple majority of the senate could vote to remove Bentley from office.
“We need 18 votes out of 35 – we have 35 senators – in order to do so,” said Bill Hightower, R-Mobile. “I don’t think we’ll have a problem getting those votes if it comes to that.”
Supreme Court Justice Roy Moore would preside over that senate trial. He’s known as the “The Ten Commandments Judge.” Moore was once removed from office for refusing to remove his Ten Commandments monument from the Alabama Supreme Court building. It’s one of those commandments – “thou shall not commit adultery” that could lead to Bentley’s ouster, even before any of the three active investigation are concluded as to whether or not he broke any laws.