Author: Lee Hedgepeth

Gubernatorial leadership, forthwith

For Alabama’s political leaders, it’s crunch time. For newly seated Gov. Kay Ivey, it’s a time of governmental transition and transformation: an opportunity to seize, while she can, the leadership vacuum on Goat Hill left in the wake of Robert Bentley’s fall from power, and so far she seems to be doing a pretty good job. Real leadership, though, is a choice she’s had to actively make, and it has come at a price. Before Bentley’s resignation — before he knew the drip, drip, drip of scandal, cover-ups and eventual investigations would drown him — the ex-governor tried to...

Read More

Governor resigns amid personal, political failures

While former Gov. Robert Bentley’s resignation ended what was nearly the first impeachment of a top politician in Alabama history, the cloud of the Republican’s misdeeds will likely loom large in Montgomery for some time to come. Last Friday, the House Judiciary Committee’s special counsel, Jack Sharman, released a 131-page report that is the result of multiple interviews, statements and other evidence collected by the committee totaling thousands of pages. The report and its accompanying exhibits provide an intimate view of the tangled web Alabama’s 53rd governor had woven for himself prior to his formal fall from power. Capitol...

Read More

These magic moments: 10 nuggets from the Bentley scandal

Much of the report released by Jack Sharman, special counsel to the House Judiciary Committee, which considered former Gov. Robert Bentley’s impeachment, has been widely reported. It’s 131 pages, and the thousands of pages of accompanying evidence have been required reading for Alabama’s political press over the last week. Still, though, there’s plenty of material — lots of magic moments — that haven’t yet been brought to the public’s attention. Here are 12 you should know about from the report. You may want to sit down. 1. In one of the recordings handed over to the impeachment committee by...

Read More

Ethics commission says Bentley violated law, recommends charges

After more than nine hours in a closed-door session on Wednesday, the Alabama Ethics Commission found probable cause that Gov. Robert Bentley broke state ethics and campaign finance laws on four occasions. The commission began its regularly scheduled meeting at 9:30 a.m., then went into executive session to hear testimony from a number of witnesses including Bentley, whose staff and security attempted to shield him from the press’ view. Bentley has been under fire since his admittedly inappropriate relationship with former staffer Rebekah Caldwell Mason went public over a year ago. While Bentley has admitted to having “inappropriate conversations”...

Read More

Impeachment attorney to present findings on governor’s misconduct

A report scheduled to be released this week by the lawyer for the legislative committee considering the potential impeachment of Gov. Robert Bentley may bring the Alabama House closer than ever before to a vote on the Republican leader’s political future. Jack Sharman, special counsel to the House Judiciary Committee, is set to present the findings of his investigation into potential misconduct by the two-term governor to the body on Friday, over the objections of Bentley’s legal team. Bentley’s chief attorney in the matter, Ross Garber, says impeachment is a “grave” decision that cannot be made quickly or taken lightly, and calls the committee’s special counsel “out-of-control.” “The citizens of Alabama went to the polls,” Garber told media at a press conference in Montgomery. “They cast their votes for governor. Their votes shouldn’t be thrown out because of an unelected private lawyer.” Garber is no stranger to political maelstroms, having represented former South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford in the impeachment proceedings against him; As governor, Sanford had disappeared with his mistress in Argentina for over a week, but Garber was able to help prevent Sanford’s impeachment by a large margin. Now, Garber is defending Bentley, who is accused of misusing state resources in association with his admittedly inappropriate relationship with former top aide Rebekah Caldwell Mason. In this fight, Garber is hitting hard at the counsel on the opposing...

Read More