Bentley: ‘I do not plan to resign; I have done nothing illegal’

Local News

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WIAT) — FRIDAY 9 AM: Alabama Governor Robert Bentley spoke to the people of the state Friday morning ahead of an expected release of a report on the impeachment probe into allegations against him.

He reiterated in his speech that he has “done nothing illegal.” He said he does not understand why people would shame him and his family, and asked them to “stop now.” He said exposing details of his personal life will not help with education, budget or job creation in Alabama.

A report from the House Judiciary Committee on the allegations against Bentley is due to be released Friday before 5 p.m. CBS42 will have live team coverage from Montgomery all day on social media, and live on the CBS42 News at Noon, 5 and 6.

Following probable cause findings against Governor Robert Bentley by the Alabama Ethics Commission Wednesday, the governor faces the possibility of additional allegations from the House Judiciary Committee.

Special Counsel Jack Sharman is expected to release his findings in a report from the committee’s investigation in a report Friday. We’ll make sure that report is available to our viewers.

“It seems like the committee and the house is ready to move simply on the finding of probable cause,” said Former U.S. attorney Doug Jones.

Bentley’s attorney, Ross Garber, tried to block that report by filing an emergency motion with the House Judiciary Committee citing lack of due process for the governor.

“The special counsel has hijacked this investigation and respectfully, the judiciary committee needs to take control,” said Garber.

However, the committee has declined to hear the motion and is moving forward with the impeachment schedule.

After the findings by the Alabama Ethics Commission Wednesday, Steve Flowers, a political analyst, said, “This was a pivotal decision because it gives credibility to the fact that the governor has indeed broken the law.”

The commission referred four violations to the Montgomery County District Attorney’s Office: one violation of Alabama Ethics Law — for misuse of state resources — and three violations of the Fair Campaign Practices Act.

“I don’t think the importance of the cases being referred to the Montgomery County D.A. instead of the A.G. has been realized,” said State Auditor Jim Zeigler who filed a complaint against Bentley with the ethics commission more than a year ago.

Zeigler said involving the district attorney instead of the attorney general avoids any additional ethical dilemmas.

“For me the safest thing is just to simply recuse from all matters involving the governor,” said Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall, who was appointed by Governor Bentley. “The referral typically means that it goes to the district attorney for a decision about how to go forward. And so I’ll assume that he’ll handle this just like he would any other ethics matter.”

However, the cases could still end up at the state attorney general’s office.

“The state has already been looking at these cases, so I think this will just complement that and I think ultimately these cases will end up being there rather than two separate investigations,” said Doug Jones.

The judiciary committee’s recommendation could lead to formal impeachment proceedings, but Flowers says it’s a long process and many things can happen.

“My guess is something may happen before the House has time to act on it,” said Flowers.

The ethics violations are a Class B Felony, so the governor could face jail time no matter what happens with the impeachment proceedings.

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