The impeachment process is moving slowly in Montgomery against Governor Robert Bentley. Meantime, lawmakers are working on another means of removing a top government official from office.
There is new interest in passing a voter recall law.
“I’ve had that recall bill before,” remarked Rep. Randy Davis, R-Daphne. “It’s been in my committee before. We’ve never really heard it.”
But thanks to Robert Bentley, thoughts are changing.
“Timing’s everything in politics and with what’s going on with the Governor it’s just added fuel to the fire,” said Rep. Will Ainsworth, R-Guntersville.
Ainsworth’s voter recall bill is making its way through the Alabama House.
“It boils down to giving the voters of Alabama the opportunity to hold elected officials accountable, which is a great thing,” he said.
The bill would require 30-percent of voters participating in the last election for a particular office to sign a petition. That would trigger a vote of the public that would determine if an elected official stays in office.
Robert Bentley is under investigation but at this point he hasn’t even been charged with a crime, not to mention convicted of one.
“There’s a lot of speculation and rumor and innuendo and you have wade through that,” said Rep. Mike Ball, R-Madison.
Many legislators say without an indictment as minimum, they have little appetite for impeachment. There are, however, accusations against Bentley of having an affair, going back on campaign promises, even being mentally ill. Some lawmakers say he’s lost the trust of the public. Ainsworth says it’s a perfect scenario for using recall.
“I know Representative Henry said if we had recall legislation in Alabama he would not have move forward with Articles of Impeachment,” Ainsworth said.
Rep. Ed Henry, R-Hartselle, said that he would introduce a revised impeachment resolution against the Governor this week.
Once introduced, the resolution would be voted on the next meeting day by the full House. A majority vote would set up a special House investigative committee to look into the allegations against Bentley.
Meantime, Ainsworth will continue to push voter recall.
“I think it’s definitely going to pass,” Ainsworth said.
He added it is unlikely that recall, if passed, could be implemented in time to factor into the Bentley scandal. But Ainsworth says it would be a valuable tool for the citizens of Alabama in the future.
Nineteen states have some sort of recall law. Only two governors in United States history have been recalled. A third, Wisconsin’s Scott Walker, beat his recall vote a few years ago.