Impeachment committee demands testimony from Alabama governor

Gov. Robert Bentley's attorneys said they believe the testimony request violates the state House's rules.
By Stephen Feller   |   Oct. 26, 2016 at 9:09 PM
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MONTGOMERY, Ala., Oct. 26 (UPI) -- Alabama's State House Judiciary Committee is demanding Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley and several of his senior officials testify under oath for their impeachment investigation.

Legislators on the judiciary committee sent a formal request for the governor and several of his top surrogates to answer questions under oath as part of impeachment proceedings alleging Bentley committed "willful neglect of duty" and "corruption in office."

A letter sent to Bentley insists he, chief legal advisor David Byrne, Director of Legislative Affairs Wesley Helton and Director of Federal and Local Government Affairs Zach Lee appear at the office of Jack Sharman, the lawyer appointed as special counsel for the impeachment hearings.

The committee has also sent subpoenas to Bentley and his staff members, though there are questions as to whether the committee has the power to subpoena.

"As we seek to discharge our constitutional duty with regard to this investigation, we want a clear truthful record from the governor and his staff," said Rep. Mike Jones, chair of the house judiciary committee, said in a press release.

The impeachment stems from accusations by former Alabama Law Enforcement Agency Secretary Spencer Collier that the governor used state resources while trying to have an affair with a political advisor. Bentley also is accused of trying to stop Collier from signing an affidavit in a criminal probe of then-House Speaker Mike Hubbard.

Bentley admitted to making inappropriate comments to the advisor, and both deny having a physical affair, but the governor said he has not done anything to justify being impeached.

Bentley's attorney, Ross Garber, suggested in a press release that the goal of having the governor or his staff testify in the special prosecutor's office takes the testimony out of public view and may prevent the governor's attorneys from cross-examining witnesses or even attending the testimony.

"The Governor's attorneys are evaluating the lawyer's requests and will communicate directly, as opposed to using a press releases to grandstand," Garber said. "In any event, the Governor's Office will continue to provide information and cooperation to the Judiciary Committee, but will also insist on fairness and due process."

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