Show Cause order freezes Bentley impeachment hearings until mid-May, pending appeal

Cheryl Sanders
April 9, 2017

The Alabama State Supreme Court has ruled and the Robert Bentley impeachment procedures can now continue Monday.

The stay allows the House Judiciary Committee to move forward with its scheduled hearings for impeachment beginning at 10 a.m. on Monday.

Representative Mike Jones R-Andalisia, said that he was pleased with the decision. The justices had found that "the Alabama legislature is free to conduct its business as prescribed in the state constitution", he added.

Before the hearings Friday, Bentley held a hastily-called news conference on the capitol steps to address the public and ask for forgiveness. The report says her suspicions of an affair were confirmed when Bentley mistakenly sent his wife a text that read "I love you Rebekah" with a red-rose emoji.

HJC special counsel Jack Sharman said the separation of powers prevented the judicial branch from getting involved, but an attorney for the governor appealed to the judge's emotions saying "they just want you to roll over and do nothing".

The governor's legal team has argued that the proposed hearings are fundamentally unfair and do not give the governor the adequate opportunity to respond to accusations.

The House Judiciary Committee asked Bentley for "a list of his cell phones or mobile devices", but he declined to provide such a list, according to Sharman's report.

"Given the significance of the issues it is certainly appropriate that the Supreme Court hear this matter quickly".

Bentley tried to block the report's release, but it was posted online Friday afternoon. The Alabama Ethics Commission Wednesday found probable cause that the governor had violated ethics and campaign finance laws, and referred charges to the Montgomery County District Attorney for consideration.

"We appreciate the Court's consideration of this serious case and are gratified by the result", said Ross Garber, attorney for the governor.

The Judiciary Committee's report on Friday accused Bentley of ordering state law enforcement officers to track down copies of an embarrassing recording that suggested an affair with the Mason.

Sharman also wrote that Bentley obstructed the legislative investigation by refusing to cooperate and redacting text messages and other material requested by the committee.

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. He wrote that Bentley's loyalties shifted from the state to himself as he tried to keep the relationship quiet. He said it appears to be an "amalgam of hearsay, rumor and innuendo". Dianne Bentley's chief of staff told Sharman that Bentley threatened her because he believed she had something to do with the recording.

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