Special Alabama Legislative Update
SPECIAL ALABAMA LEGISLATIVE UPDATEBen Patterson & Mary Margaret Carroll, Fine Geddie & Associates, LLC
Yesterday, Governor Robert Bentley resigned from office. Lieutenant Governor Kay Ivey was sworn in shortly thereafter as the 54th Governor of the State of Alabama. She will serve the remaining 21 months of the term. Ivey is the second female to hold the position.
Prior to being elected Lt. Gov. in 2010, Ivey served two terms as the State Treasurer (elected in 2002, 2006) and also served as Assistant Director of the Alabama Development Office. She was a banker and a high school teacher. Originally from Camden, AL where she was raised on a rural farm, she is a graduate of Auburn University. Her political success has been attributed to her strong grassroots network and retail political skills. In 2010, she originally filed paperwork to run for Governor, but switched races.
Alabama law provides that the Senate President Pro Tempore, Del Marsh (R) will maintain his office and assume the duties of the Lieutenant Governor.
Bentley's resignation is the culmination of almost two years of rumored and alleged scandal related to an extramarital affair, employment disputes, ethics violations, abuse of office, and campaign finance violations. Approximately one year ago, the Alabama House of Representatives filed Articles of Impeachment and launched an investigation into several allegations.
Last week, the Alabama Ethics Commission found probable cause for the Montgomery County District Attorney to investigate Bentley for four felonies including an ethics violation and three campaign finance violations. On Friday, special counsel for the House Judiciary Committee released a investigative report, hearings on which began yesterday morning. The report was incriminating for Governor Bentley.
As the hearing commenced yesterday, Bentley's attorneys negotiated a plea deal with the Attorney General's office that included resignation. He pled guilty to two misdemeanors: failure to disclose a major contribution and knowingly converting campaign funds for personal use.
Governor Ivey has good relations with the Legislature. There is hope among legislators that, with a change in the governor’s office and the Bentley scandal out of the way, credible leadership from the governor will enable the state to move forward again and begin addressing the important issues.