Governor Robert Bentley said Friday he will not appear before State Auditor Jim Zeigler to testify under oath about his alleged affair with aide Rebekah Mason and other matters.
On Thursday, Zeigler ordered the Governor to appear before him on May 2, citing state law that gives the state auditor the power to call state employees to testify about state expenses. Specifically, Zeigler wanted Bentley to testify about any state funds used involving Mason and her husband Jon.
But Bentley is having none it. In a statement he said, “The appropriate legal process is through the Alabama Ethics Commission where the Auditor has already filed a complaint, and we are fully cooperating in every way. I do not intend to respond further to Mr. Zeigler.”
Zeigler says the law is unclear about the punishment for refusing to testify before the state auditor.
“If he declines to show up we’re studying the appropriate measure for enforcing the legal matter,” Zeigler said.
Zeigler said he took the action against the Governor because of the dwindling impeachment movement in the House. Two weeks ago Representative Ed Henry introduced an impeachment resolution but it went nowhere. This week a new resolution was introduced that would create an investigative committee anytime eleven representatives favored impeachment.
The resolution does not mention Bentley by name, and its sponsor says it’s more about setting a framework to deal with future impeachments.
The governor doesn’t seem too concerned.
“There has never been any reason for impeachment,” Bentley said. “There’s just not any of it out there. Some of it was political grandstanding. And some people got out so far on a limb so they’re trying to make it easy on everybody.”
Zeigler calls the House’s impeachment efforts, or lack thereof, “disingenuous” and “irresponsible.”
He says he’s being responsible in summoning the Governor to testify
“I am going forward because no one else is.”