BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) – At a press conference held Tuesday in Montgomery, Representative Ed Henry, R-Hartselle, announced plans to start the process of impeaching Governor Robert Bentley. So just how does the impeachment process work in Alabama?
What are Alabama’s Impeachment laws?
The Articles of Impeachment, being presented by Henry, state that Section 173 of the Constitution of Alabama of 1901 “provides that the Governor, and other constitutional officers of this state may be impeached upon the adoption of articles of impeachment by this body and upon trial by the Senate, acting as a court of impeachment…”
What is Section 173 of the Constitution of Alabama?
Alabama defines the grounds for impeachment in Article VII of the state Constitution. Specifics for the governor are located in Section 173 of that article.
Section 173 states: “The governor, lieutenant-governor, attorney-general, state auditor, secretary of state, state treasurer, superintendent of education, commissioner of agriculture and industries, and justices of the supreme court may be removed from office for willful neglect of duty corruption in office, incompetency, or intemperance in the use of intoxicating liquors or narcotics to such an extent, in view of the dignity of the office and importance of its duties, as unfits the officer for the discharge of such duties, or for any offense involving moral turpitude while in office, or committed under color thereof, or connected therewith, by the senate sitting as a court of impeachment, under oath or affirmation, on articles or charges preferred by the house of representatives.”
Let’s stop there for a second. The articles of impeachment from Henry break down a few of the above reasons for removal in the case for Bentley:
Willful Neglect of Duty
“There is credible evidence from which to infer that, in his conduct while Governor of the State of Alabama, he has willfully neglected his duty as Governor by failing to faithfully execute the laws of this state and by refusing to perform his constitutional and statutory duties and has consistently acted in violation of law to promote his own personal agenda.”
Corruption in Office
“There is credible evidence from which to infer that, in his conduct while Governor of the State of Alabama, he has unlawfully used state property in furtherance of concealment of an inappropriate relationship with a senior political advisor and has made administrative decisions, including termination, demotion, of the involuntary transfer of Executive Branch employees, based solely upon the furtherance of that inappropriate relationship. Furthermore, the lack of transparency of the senior political advisor’s compensation arrangement and status further demonstrates corrupt motives and suggest circumvention of state ethics laws. Governor Bentley has betrayed his trust as Governor and has undermined the integrity of his office.”
“There is credible evidence from which to infer that, in his conduct while Governor of the State of Alabama, he has exhibited poor judgment and continues to make decisions that are detrimental to the people of this state and has proved to be wholly ineffective as Governor. Governor Bentley’s abuse of his official duties and powers consistently demonstrates diminished competency, honesty, principles, and morality.”
Offenses of Moral Turpitude
“The Alabama Supreme Court has defined “moral turpitude” to mean something immoral in itself, regardless of the fact that it is punished by law, including an act that is not merely prohibited, but is inherently immoral. By his own admission, Governor Bentley has engaged in an extramarital relationship with a married political advisor and has used his office in furtherance and concealment of this relationship. Governor Bentley’s conduct is inherently immoral and renders him unfit to serve in the highest office in the state.”
Now back to Section 173: “When the governor or lieutenant-governor is impeached, the chief justice, or if he be absent or disqualified, then one of the associate justices of the supreme court, to be selected by it, shall preside over the senate when sitting as a court of impeachment. If at any time when the legislature is not in session, a majority of all the members elected to the house of representatives shall certify in writing to the secretary of state their desire to meet to consider the impeachment of the governor, lieutenant-governor, or other officer administering the office of governor, it shall be the duty of the secretary of state immediately to notify the speaker of the house, who shall, within ten days after receipt of such notice, summon the members of the house, by publication in some newspaper published at the capitol, to assemble at the capitol on a day to be fixed by the speaker, not later than fifteen days after the receipt of the notice to him from the secretary of state, to consider the impeachment of the governor, lieutenant-governor, or other officer administering the office of governor. If the house of representatives prefer articles of impeachment, the speaker of the house shall forthwith notify the lieutenant-governor, unless he be the officer impeached, in which event he shall notify the secretary of state, who shall summon, in the manner herein above provided for, the members of the senate to assemble at the capitol on a day to be named in said summons, not later than ten days after receipt of the notice from the speaker of the house, for the purpose of organizing as a court of impeachment. The senate, when thus organized, shall hear and try such articles of impeachment against the governor, lieutenant-governor, or other officer administering the office of governor, as may be preferred by the House of Representatives.”
If Governor Bentley is impeached who takes over?
Article V Section 127 of the Constitution of Alabama states, “In case of the governor’s removal from office, death or resignation, the lieutenant governor shall become governor.”
So, next in line would be Lieutenant Governor Kay Ivey.
What’s the full order of succession?
After the governor it goes: Lieutenant Governor, President Pro Tempore of the Senate, Speaker of the House of Representatives, Attorney General, State Auditor, Secretary of State, and State Treasurer.
Who holds those offices?
- Lieutenant Governor: Kay Ivey
- President Pro Tempore of the Senate: Del Marsh
- Speaker of the House of Representatives: Mike Hubbard
- Attorney General: Luther Strange
- State Auditor: Jim Zeigler
- Secretary of State: John Merrill
- State Treasurer: Young Boozer