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Alabama House ready to push forward with Bentley impeachment hearings

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. — The House Judiciary Committee on Wednesday announced plans to hold its first meeting on articles of impeachment against Alabama Governor Bentley (R-Ala.).

The meeting, which will take place next week, will be an organizational session continuing a process that could ultimately culminate with the governor being removed from office.

Articles of impeachment were first filed on April 5 in the wake of revelations that the governor may have misused state resources to facilitate and cover up an affair with his top political advisor, Rebekah Caldwell Mason. But State Rep. Ed Henry (R-Hartselle) — a leading proponent of impeachment — argues Bentley’s “betrayal of the public trust” began with his incessant attempts to raise taxes after running for re-election on a “No New Taxes” pledge.

“If he really loves Alabama, he should put aside his selfishness and step down,” Henry said.

RELATED: Lawmakers begin process to impeach Bentley; Governor calls it ‘grandstanding’

House members levied four articles of impeachment against Bentley: neglect of duty, corruption, incompetency, and offenses of moral terpitude.

The Bentley administration has been mired in scandal since late March when Tellowhammer exposed the existence of audio recordings that captured sexually charged conversations between Bentley and Mrs. Mason. State and federal authorities have also launched criminal investigations into possible wrongdoing that stemmed from their inappropriate relationship.

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

Business leaders have warned that the governor’s actions may now be impacting the state’s ability to attract jobs.

“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,” one local economic developer told Yellowhammer. “To say it is frustrating would be understating it.”

RELATED: Economic developers frustrated as Bentley scandal chases away companies, jobs

Bentley has insisted that nothing he has done is ground for impeachment and has accused his detractors in the legislature of political grandstanding.

“There are no grounds for impeachment, and I will vigorously defend myself and my administration from this political attack,” he said.

The articles of impeachment, which function as the charges against the accused, must be passed by a simple majority in the Alabama House of Representatives. Once the house impeaches the governor, he stands trial before the Alabama Senate in a trial presided over by the Chief Justice of the State Supreme Court.

If the governor is convicted, he would be removed from office and replaced by the current Lieutenant Governor, Kay Ivey.