State Auditor Jim Zeigler has made a livelihood out of saying and doing dumb things, so maybe his latest escapade isn’t terribly surprising. It still warrants discussion, if for no other reason than as the state’s most outlandish public official, Zig continues talking about running for U.S. Senate against Doug Jones next year.
It’s not that I believe Zeigler has any real chance of winning a primary that will almost certainly involve candidates who are not pathologically dishonest, but since I’ve been wrong before about buffoonish candidates ultimately winning high office it’s important to revisit a few things.
But before all of that, let’s recap Zeigler’s antics this week.
When Arizona’s new U.S. Sen. Kyrsten Sinema took the Senate floor this week wearing a short dress and thigh-high boots, it flabbergasted more than a few Senate couture watchers. Her attire ignited the kind of firestorm only the internet can deliver. Some felt her outfit was a bit too sexy or risqué for the senate, while others thought she was being a strong woman and they all agreed they hated each other.
I will say, having worked for a bit on Capitol Hill, it would have been highly unusual to see thigh-high boots on the legs of any senator in the late ‘90s. Washington’s Patty “Mom in Tennis Shoes” Murray wasn’t about to end up as “the mom in your girlfriend’s boots.” Larry “Wide Stance” Craig would have broken an ankle while trying to work those high heels into the next bathroom stall, so that would have been unadvisable. And Strom Thurmond’s thighs hadn’t seen the sun in 65 years, so nobody wanted any of that white meat showing.
Times have clearly changed.
Whether or not he thought Sinema’s outfit too sexy for the Senate — is there really any such thing?! — or he just thought she looked real purty, Zeigler’s decision to post a couple of photos of her on his official Facebook page didn’t play well. The next thing you know, people are making comments about Sinema looking like a stripper or a prostitute and blasting Ziggy for “shaming” Sinema. He found himself slap in the middle of a controversy.
So then Zeigler did what he always does when his dumb ideas get him in trouble — he lied.
Zeigler told various media outlets he had actually posted the photos to draw attention to Sen. Doug Jones, who shows up near the edge of one of them. Please ignore the fact the post was headlined, “What newly elected AZ democrat senator Kyrsten Sinema wore to work.”
Zeigler was quoted as saying, “The wording of my post was Doug Jones does not represent the people of Alabama,” Zeigler said. “He represents the out-of- state senators. And I’ll continue to draw that distinction.”
How Jones was supporting out-of-state senators by being on the Senate floor with Sinema isn’t readily apparent. He doesn’t appear to be clapping, whistling or donning his own pair of racy boots. But in Ziggy World it’s enough just to say it.
He also tried to make himself sound noble, claiming he “stayed up” deleting comments on his FB page that were sexist or profane. Might have been easier to just delete the post rather than lose all that sleep, Jim.
All of this came on the same day Zeigler was trying to hold a press conference regarding his plan to repair Alabama’s highways without the gas tax increase the Legislature is contemplating. So now the “state agitator,” as he was introducing himself to people at last summer’s Pork and Politics, is writing legislation??? Doesn’t he already have a job?
But Zeigler never really wanted the auditor’s job. It was just the only one we were dumb enough to elect him to — twice. Prior to winning that position, he was a perennial loser in just about every election that came along. And now he envisions himself as a U.S. Senator.
Let’s take the Wayback Machine for a short ride to February 2018. Almost one year ago, Zeigler was forced to surrender his law license by the Alabama Bar Association and banned from reapplying for five years. That’s the same length of time lawyers who are disbarred must wait before they reapply.
When asked about this issue, Zeigler came up with a whopper. He claimed since he had decided not to run for attorney general, he no longer needed his law license and surrendered it so he wouldn’t have to pay malpractice insurance. Of course, the bar association told us retiring lawyers can simply go inactive and do not have to surrender their licenses.
Digging a bit, we learned he was the subject of a bar complaint and had been forced to pay back $10,000 in fees charged to one of his elder care clients. A letter from the bar’s fee dispute/firm dissolution committee said he did not complete work he charged for and also charged for work that didn’t require a lawyer.
But just as in the situation with his Facebook faux pas, Zeigler made up a ridiculous story to explain his actions. Are we really supposed to believe he voluntarily gave up his law license to avoid malpractice fees and wasn’t fleecing an elderly client? Are we really supposed to believe his FB post was aimed at Doug Jones and not blasting Sinema’s outfit?
Jim Zeigler loves to portray himself as a bold crusader who’s tougher than his political opponents, but the reality is every time he gets in a crack, he does the cowardly thing. In the situation with Sinema’s photo, why not just admit he was really trying to hammer a new Democratic senator whose clothing choices don’t fit his idea of what someone in her position should wear? Then, just for fairness’ sake, he could let her make fun of his short ties and frumpy suits.
Regarding the issue of his law license surrender, Zeigler still owes the people of this state an honest and detailed explanation of what exactly was going on in his legal practice. We don’t need anyone as a state auditor or a U.S. Senator who sets out to rip off the elderly. That issue isn’t going to go away.
But since Ziggy seems to have an interest in fashion, I do have a tip should the people of Alabama ever experience enough collective insanity to elect him to the U.S. Senate: Be sure to wear a pair of hip waders onto the floor, because the BS is getting deep.