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2 years ago

‘Neglect of duty, corruption, incompetency’ — Here’s what’s in Bentley’s articles of impeachment

Alabama Governor Robert Bentley holds a press conference at the State Capitol in Montgomery (Photo: Governor's Office, Daniel Sparkman)
Alabama Governor Robert Bentley holds a press conference at the State Capitol in Montgomery (Photo: Governor’s Office, Daniel Sparkman)

MONTGOMERY, Ala. — On Tuesday, State Rep. Ed Henry (R-Harselle) announced in a press conference with several colleagues that the House of Representatives will pursue articles of impeachment against Gov. Robert Bentley (R-Ala.).

Now that the articles have been released to the public in-full, here’s what you need to know about the claims that could put the sitting governor on trial before the state senate.

Altogether, there are four articles (think “charges”) brought against the governor. They are as follows.

Article I: Willful Neglect of Duty
This article alleges the governor willfully neglected to faithfully execute the laws of the state and “has consistently acted in violation of the law to promote his own personal agenda.”

Statements made in a Tuesday press conference by Reps. Henry and Craig Ford (D-Gadsden) seem to indicate particular interest in whether Bentley obstructed justice in the state’s case against House Speaker Mike Hubbard.

Former Alabama Law Enforcement Agency head Spencer Collier claims Bentley told him not to cooperate with investigations brought forth by the Alabama Attorney General’s office.

Article II: Corruption in Office
Here, the authors of the resolution insist there is “credible evidence” the governor unlawfully used state property to cover up his inappropriate relationship with senior political advisor Rebekah Mason. It also alleges Bentley made important political decisions purely based on the furtherance of his relationship with Mason.

Mason gained a reputation over the last several years of being the governor’s most trusted adviser, and was even referred to as the “de facto governor” in some instances.

“From 2014 to the present it has come apparent to me that Mrs. Mason wields a level of influence over state government that I have never seen before,” Alabama’s former top cop Spencer Collier said. “I have received complaints from law enforcement, other government officials and members of Governor Bentley’s family.

“He made it clear to me that anyone that questioned Rebekah Mason’s influence would be terminated,” Collier emphasized after being fired.

RELATED: Alabama’s former top cop: Bentley mistress was ‘de facto Governor’

The resolution also questions the lack of transparency behind Mrs. Mason’s compensation and declares the entire scenario to be a “betrayal of the public trust.”

Article III: Incompetency
This section declares that Gov. Bentley’s recent actions have proven him to be dishonest, unprincipled, immoral, and incompetent. It also states that the governor has exercised “poor judgement” and made decisions “detrimental to the people of the state.”

While the relationship with Mrs. Mason seems to be the impetus for this article, the Republican Representatives – particularly Henry – insinuated that Bentley’s duplicity on the issue of taxes also played a role.

After securing reelection in November of 2014 on a George H.W. Bush-like platform of “no new taxes”, the governor instantly pursued a budget that called for numerous tax increases. Henry implied that Bentley’s dishonesty on taxes laid the groundwork for a pattern of betraying the public trust that only continued with his inappropriate relationship.

Economic developers have also said several companies considering expanding their operations into Alabama have backed away.

“We’ve got all this momentum with aerospace and Airbus suppliers are moving in and Google’s coming to the state and fiber broadband is going in and then boom — just like that the momentum is stopped by a scandal that none of us can do anything about,” said one local economic developer. “To say it is frustrating would be understating it.”

RELATED: Economic developers frustrated as Bentley scandal chases away companies, jobs
That sentiment was shared by numerous economic developers Yellowhammer spoke with last week, from heads of local economic development authorities to executives at large companies engaged in the state’s job recruitment and retention efforts.

House Minority Leader Craig Ford (D-Gadsden) agreed with the economic development pros, saying Bentley should step down because his impropriety is having a “crippling affect” on the state’s “ability to recruit jobs.”

Article IV: Offenses of Moral Terpitude
Here, the resolution cites the Alabama Supreme Court’s definition of “moral terpitude” which defines an act as “immoral in and of itself, regardless of the fact that it is punishable by law…”. The article contends that Bentley’s admitted extramarital relationship with Mrs. Mason qualifies as such an act and renders him ineligible to continue serving as governor.

Bentley has, in varying degrees, admitted to having some sort of relationship with his then-senior political advisor, but the full extent has not been revealed by either of them.

However, Yellowhammer News received audio of conversations between Bentley and Mason that appear to confirm some type of physical relationship existed.

“You know what?” Bentley can be heard saying to Mason on the phone. “When I stand behind you and I put my arms around you, and I put my hands on your breasts, and I put my hands on you and pull you in real close. Hey, I love that, too.”
RELATED: The complete Bentley-Mason affair audio recordings and transcripts

At this point it is a matter of degree, not one of existence.

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1 hour ago

Great News: Alabama black and white voters have far more in common than not

According to a report issued last week by the Public Affairs Research Council of Alabama, blacks and whites agree on most Alabama priorities with public education being most notable.

“Alabama Priorities,” as it is named by PARCA, stated that most of the people in Alabama had similar concerns in previous surveys.

The report also revealed that Alabamians were not selecting their priorities based on political alliances, ideology, or racial differences.

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While there were many shocking finds within the new report, one thing that perhaps stood out the most was that nine of the top ten priorities for African-American voters were the same as that of white voters.

While there were many agreements on what Alabama deserves most, there were also differences. Higher education, which was the fifth highest priority for black voters, didn’t rank in the top ten for white voters.

While white voters ranked improving the state’s image as their tenth priority, it was not included on the list from black voters.

Included among the top ten priorities were healthcare, poverty and homelessness, crime and public safety, and tax reform.

The PARCA report was compiled of two different surveys. PARCA and Samford University partnered to conduct surveys that received 150 responses. The second survey was conducted through a partnership of PARCA and the University of South Alabama where surveyors took part in 468 interviews.

Alabama must capitalize on this opportunity. This is the perfect time for Alabama to come together as one and serve all communities by focusing on the issues that mean most to almost all of the people in Alabama.

For too long, our country has been divided because of political and personal differences. Race relations in the south have not always been the best, but now the opportunity to unite as one lies in the near future.

Alabama’s elected officials must focus on what means most to the people in this state. These are issues that we ALL can agree on. Alabama ranks 47th in education among other states. That’s terrible. It is time to focus on educating the children of Alabama and ensure that they lead this country to success.

Health and substance abuse also ranked among the top 10 priorities for Alabama voters and I can understand why. Substance abuse is very common in Alabama and that’s something we need to work on correcting. Too many families are being torn about due to the lack of awareness and understanding of what certain substances can do to an individual’s life.

For once, I can say that I am happy to see that Alabama voters, whether white or black, or Republican or Democrat, share similar ideology when it comes to deciding what issues need the most attention in our state.

With the right leadership, changes can occur. Let’s get this fixed so that next year we can produce an extremely different set of top ten priorities.

@RealKyleMorris is a Yellowhammer News contributor

2 hours ago

Alabama watchdog group SPLC to pay anti-extremist UK group in settlement

An American liberal watchdog group apologized and will pay more than $3 million under an agreement announced Monday after labeling a British organization and its founder as anti-Muslim extremists.

The nonprofit Southern Poverty Law Center of Montgomery issued written and video statements saying it was wrong to include the London-based Quilliam and Maajid Nawaz in a “Field Guide to Anti-Muslim Extremists.”

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Law center president Richard Cohen said his organization has done additional research and talked with human rights advocates since releasing the publication in 2016.

“We’ve found that Mr. Nawaz and Quilliam have made valuable and important contributions to public discourse, including by promoting pluralism and condemning both anti-Muslim bigotry and Islamist extremism,” said Cohen’s statement. “Although we may have our differences with some of the positions that Mr. Nawaz and Quilliam have taken, they are most certainly not anti-Muslim extremists.”

An agreement released online by Quilliam shows the Alabama-based law center is paying $3.4 million, which Quilliam says will be used to fight anti-Muslim bigotry and Islamist extremism.

Quilliam had threatened to sue, but its policy director David Toube said in an email the settlement offer came before any suit was filed.

Nawaz was once involved with radical Islamist groups but changed his views and started Quilliam, which describes itself as challenging both Islamist extremism and anti-Muslim bigotry. Nawaz tweeted a video in which he asked the law center to join its cause.

“Too much and for too long … many on the left have been trying to shut down any debate or critique or criticism around Islam especially by Muslims within Muslim communities,” Nawaz said. “Well, this moment should teach us all a lesson and allow us to work together to challenge the triple threat facing the world at the moment and that’s far-right extremism, far-left extremism and, from the heavens above, Islamist extremism.”

The Southern Poverty Law Center is best known for tracking United States-based radical groups including the Ku Klux Klan. Federal tax records show the nonprofit organization reported revenues of $132 million and net assets of $450 million for 2017.

(Associated Press, copyright 2018)

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3 hours ago

Survey: Electric vehicles make sense for Alabama drivers

As many as 50 million Americans are about to flip the switch over to electric automobiles with their next purchase, according to the American Automobile Association. A recent survey conducted by the AAA found that popularity of electric cars is trending upwards. With infrastructure and availability all here, Alabama can lead the charge toward electric vehicles.

In its survey, AAA asked Americans if they were considering electric vehicles for their next car purchase. The survey found that 20 percent of Americans say their next vehicle will be an electric car – up 5 percent from 2017.

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The Alabama Clean Fuels Coalition encourages Alabamians to make the move to an alternative fuel vehicle, such as an electric car. Electric vehicles offer nothing but benefits, from being more cost-efficient due to cheaper fuel to less expensive maintenance to being environmentally friendly.

Alabama’s relationship with Mercedes-Benz could be a factor in the state’s future with electric vehicles, too. The automaker announced in January it would be rolling out an electric version of each of its vehicles by 2022. With Mercedes – and most other automakers – launching more electric options, there have never been more alternative fuel vehicle options than we have today.

The Tuscaloosa County facility is the only Mercedes plant in the United States, and it will play a central role in the production of these electric vehicles. As these electric vehicles begin to be produced by the people of Alabama, the next logical step is for them to begin driving them as well.

There has never been a better time to switch over to electric. It is a common misconception that it is a hassle to charge your electric car, whether that be at home or on the road. Charging at home can be done through a 120-amp power supply, which is the same three-prong outlet that powers your television.

The Alabama Clean Fuels Coalition is determined to make driving an electric vehicle in Alabama comfortable by assisting in getting proper infrastructure in place. Alabama currently has 84 electric charging stations, and a total of 198 charging outlets scattered across the state in almost all major cities.

More and more charging stations will continue to pop up across the state as more electric vehicles hit the streets. Current electric charging stations can be found at convenient locations in public, and some residential areas. The new Tesla charging stations in downtown Birmingham are just one prominent example. Several online sites, such as plugshare.com, provide charger locations.

The Alabama Clean Fuels Coalition serves as the principal coordinating point for clean, alternative fuel and advanced technology vehicle activities in Alabama. The ACFC is part of the national network of nearly 100 Clean Cities coalitions that bring together stakeholders in the public and private sectors to deploy alternative and renewable fuels, idle-reduction measures, fuel economy improvements and emerging technologies.

According to Alabama AAA PR and Marketing Director Clay Ingram, our state is warming up to electric vehicles as the technology and infrastructure begins to develop at a rapid pace.

“We have come a long way in accepting this, in a short number of years,” Ingram said. “We love our vehicles in Alabama, and I think there is a lot of room for (electric vehicles) as the technology continues to develop.”

With an average gas price of $2.91 – its highest cost since 2014. Gas prices are expected to increase over time without any anticipation of dropping. The average American spends $1,400 on gasoline a year, while average electric vehicle charging costs are $540 annually. Unlike gasoline cars, electric vehicles don’t typically require oil changes, fuel filters, spark plug replacements or emission checks. In electric vehicles, even brake pad replacements are rare due to the fact regenerative braking returns energy to the battery.

With all the aforementioned factors in mind, it is no surprise that the AAA estimated a below-average cost of ownership with electric vehicles. Electric cars also are the least expensive when it comes to yearly maintenance.

Since the 1970s, lawmakers in the United States have been putting effort into facilitating the research and growth of electric cars. The urge to reduce carbon emissions has given electric car production a lift. Electric vehicles emit an average of 4,500 pounds of CO2, with gasoline cars emitting more than double that.

This current shift to electric will not only have an environmental impact, but also an economic one. According the U.S. Energy Information Administration, the United States has made progress in importing less oil, but still imports nearly 20 percent of what is consumed. The increasing use of electricity as an alternative fuel will further push the United States toward economic independence from foreign countries.

The benefits to driving an electric car are endless! To learn more about the Alabama Clean Fuels Coalition and advice on purchasing an alternative fuel vehicle, please visit www.alabamacleanfuels.org.

Mark Bentley is the executive director of the Alabama Clean Fuels Coalition.

3 hours ago

The Pauline passage doesn’t address the justice of penalties for breaking laws

Scholars and pundits have made their thoughts well-known on the Trump Administration’s biblical arguments for “zero-tolerence” immigration enforcement.

Here I offer one more targeted to the structure of the argument that Attorney General Jeff Sessions made last Thursday.

For review, here are his words, which have enticed the most responders.

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Sessions shapes up his parameters as “to discuss some concerns raised by our church friends about separation of families.”

He continues: “Illegal entry into the United States is a crime, it should be and must be, if we’re going to have a legal system and any limits whatsoever. People who violate the law of our nation are subject to prosecution. If you violate the law, you subject yourself to prosecution.”

Sessions then invokes St. Paul, whose instructions to the church in Rome he summarizes as to “obey the laws of the government because God has ordained the government for his purposes.”

Here is my primary observation:

The Romans 13 passage is far too broad to address the justness of separating families. St. Paul’s guidance does perhaps provide a defense for the prosecution of illegal immigrants but certainly does not imply that should one break a secular law, any consequence is permissible, simply because a secular authority sanctioned it.

Truly, Paul speaks nothing of the justice of such consequences in this passage. As a result, the only piece of the immigration enforcement puzzle given any measure of justification by St. Paul is the notion that those who have entered illegally have broken a law.

In short, Sessions ventures from making a case for the justness of separating the children from their parents to making a much broader case that laws ought to be applied because God gave secular authority to enlist them.

Sessions’s use of the Pauline passage would not be completely useless for making a broad case for immigration enforcement but considering his starting point, the passage simply does not extend to imply what he implies which is that the result of prosecution, namely the separation of families, is just.

@jeremywbeaman is a contributing writer for Yellowhammer News

4 hours ago

Immigration debate: ‘There is no room for them at the inn’ is a better Bible verse to reference

Americans have been told for decades that we need to have a complete and total separation of religion and government, including ignoring your religious beliefs during policy making when it comes to abortion and gay marriage. But when “children are being ripped away from their parents” at the border, the American media and Democrats have found the Bible to be a useful tool for bashing Christians.

Christian leaders were outraged, Attorney General Jeff Sessions responded by referencing his own Bible verse about following the law, and Sarah Huckabee Sanders agreed. Liberals and their media saw an opportunity, and an MSNBC host started quoting the Bible on-air.

The King James Bible has another verse that we can quote out of context for this immigration debate if we are so inclined:

Luke 2:7: “…there was no room for them in the inn.”

Why this matters:

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If Americans, their politicians, and the media, were serious about this debate it would be about how illegal immigrants impact our society.

We’d talk about the crime some of them bring and the resources that they consume.

We’d talk about the impact on wages and the employment market.

We’d talk about how a person making minimum wage can‘t afford an apartment on their own.

But this isn’t about any of that.

It is about fighting President Donald Trump’s immigration crackdown, and Donald Trump’s presidency in general. They want more immigrants because they view that as the future of their political power.

This isn’t about reason or even morality, it is about emotional manipulation.

TheDaleJackson is a contributing writer to Yellowhammer News and hosts a conservative talk show from 7-11 am weekdays on WVNN