New state attorney general opens ethics investigation of BentleyBy Adam Dodson | 03/09/2017 12:01am
Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons
Alabama politics have become a familiar topic of discussion for many, with Alabama officials making headlines for corruption investigations, political maneuvering and questionable deals. Last year alone, the heads of each of the three branches of state government in Alabama were under some type of legal investigation. Once again, Alabama finds itself embroiled in scandal which may put it back in the headlines, as people begin to question the replacement of U.S. Sen. Jeff Sessions with former Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange.
Sessions’ appointment opened up a seat in the United States Senate, which is usually an elected position. Due to the time of the vacancy, the responsibility to fill the seat falls into the hands of Gov. Robert Bentley, who appointed his own attorney general. This is the same attorney general who was conducting an investigation into Bentley's conduct while in office.
Strange's investigation began by looking into Bentley's alleged use of state funds while participating in an alleged affair with advisor Rebekah Caldwell Mason. The appearance of impropriety stemming from the appointment has sparked questions on both sides of the aisle, as even Republicans have admitted that the move appears highly suspect.
That criticism of the decision has translated to the University's campus. “It’s difficult to ignore the blatant motivation behind Governor Bentley appointing Luther Strange,” said Gerald Frass, chairman of UA College Republicans. “His ethics are questionable at best.”
The new attorney general of Alabama, Steve Marshall, has opened up a special investigation into the Governor. He officially recused himself and appointed Ellen Brooks as special investigator. After an meteoric rise to attorney general, Marshall has moved quickly to distance himself from the ethics storm that is surrounding his colleagues. But the moves have not been enough to please the Democrats and even some Republicans.
“While the new attorney general seems well-qualified for the job, it is clear that his tenure will be tainted by the fact that his appointment was the result of a scandal-riddled governor trying to protect his own interests," said Mike Smith, director of external affairs for UA College Democrats.
The Alabama Attorney General Office is currently undergoing an investigation into Gov. Bentley. The special investigation begins after a months-long suspension of the process while Strange’s office claimed they needed more time to gather all the information necessary.