The Big Picture –
By Glynn Wilson –
Did your momma ever get on to you for some mischief and say something like this? “Wipe that smile off your face … I’m going to wash your mouth out with soap.”
Well, I’m sorry to play your momma today. But if you are a Democrat or a liberal or a progressive in Alabama, wipe that damn smile off your face. The alleged sex scandal involving Alabama’s governor Robert Bentley is NOT funny.
If you think it is, feel free to go back and share the Newhouse media links on your Facebook again and have fun. The so-called Alabama Media Group, a.k.a. Advent Communications, a.k.a. al dot com, wants you to share their clickbait making fun of the Bentley sex scandal, while ignoring the Medicaid crisis in the state that is actually killing people on a daily basis.
The same outfit hounded former Alabama Governor Don Siegelman into jail, as well as former Birmingham Mayor Larry Langford. Did y’all notice? They sold newspapers in the white flight suburbs for years with those stories. Now they have your attention with the Bentley sex scandal. Sorry if I don’t find that funny.
At least the Gannet newspaper in Montgomery, as badly written and mainstream, establishment as it is, has a reporter covering the actual news of what’s going on in state government, not just funny blogger columnists. In yesterday’s paper, they published a story that demonstrates that the state House Judiciary Committee is meeting to consider impeachment hearings against Bentley. The problem is, no one in state government even knows how to proceed.
The state’s 1901 constitution, written to uphold racial segregation and discrimination in the wake of the Civil War, the 13th Amendment to the U.S. constitution freeing the slaves and federal Reconstruction, has no provisions for impeaching a governor and removing one from office. No legislature has even tried such a move since 1915, so there is no legal precedent for it.
While presumably an impeachment trial would have to be held in the Senate after charges are brought by the House, there is no provision for a margin for conviction and removal from office. Would it take only a majority vote? Or would it have to be a two-thirds majority as it is in the U.S. Senate?
Members of the House filed articles of impeachment against Bentley in April over allegations that he used state resources to pursue an affair with an aide paid by a non-profit group, not the taxpayers, Rebekah Caldwell Mason. Also under consideration, apparently, are claims that together they attempted to prevent former Alabama Law Enforcement Agency Secretary Spencer Collier from participating in an investigation into former House Speaker Mike Hubbard, who was just convicted by Lee County jury for personally profiting from his public office. He has been removed from office and his name removed from the legislative rolls. Good riddance.
Now, even though the Legislature in not in session, members of the House Judiciary Committee are meeting anyway to consider impeachment hearings against Bentley. But only the governor can now call a special session to deal with a shortfall in Medicaid funding or the prison crisis. And sources say he is reluctant to do it because his political opponents in the Republican Party might use it to oust him from office. No, he is not worried about the Democrats. What Democrats?
Members of the Alabama impeachment panel are reportedly looking at the 1999 impeachment trial of President Bill Clinton and the 2009 impeachment of Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich for guidance.
An impeachment panel would be much like a grand jury, only instead of operating in secret, the panel’s deliberations would be open to the public.
House members say they believe they have the power to issue subpoenas and force testimony. But unlike Congress, the Alabama Legislature has no mechanism to enforce them.
Apparently the committee plans to hire a special counsel to guide the proceedings. No date has been set.
If the guidance for impeaching a president is used, the term of art most used would be something called “high crimes and misdemeanors,” although in the case of Alabama, a governor could removed from office even if there was no proof of an actual crime. High crimes and misdemeanors can involve allegations of misconduct peculiar to public officials, such as perjury, abuse of authority, bribery, intimidation, misuse of assets, failure to supervise, dereliction of duty, conduct unbecoming and refusal to obey a lawful order.
It seems to me that unless they can actually prove that an affair took place (no, the sexting recording does not prove that), or that the governor personally stood in the way of a lawful prosecution of the Speaker of the House, then this impeachment process is probably going nowhere fast. Members of the public are already picking up on the fact that this looks like nothing more than “a dog and pony show” to fool the public into thinking the Republicans are actually doing something to police their own corrupt politicians.
If I were to advise the state House Judiciary Committee in this matter — and of course they are not asking for my advice — I would argue that there is another far more important issue that should be considered.
The most egregious dereliction of duty on the part of this governor is to refuse billions of dollars in federal money to fund Medicaid to give poor people, old people, young people and the chronically sick access to health care — simply to get himself reelected in 2014. As we have previously reported — THE ONLY news organization in Alabama or America to report this – the best documented evidence suggests that 1,223 people a year are already dying because of the lack of access to health care.
That means as many as 3,669 people have already died in the state over the past three years due to the state’s refusal to expand Medicaid with federal health care dollars. This year, the Legislature and the Governor allowed a budget to pass leaving Medicaid with an $85 million shortfall.
This in my opinion is tantamount to murder. Call Bentley an accessory after the fact if you must, although surely he had to know the consequences in advance. I reported it on it back when even if no other news organization in the state did.
He knew people would die if he did not take the money and fund Medicaid. He not only violated the Hippocratic Oath as a doctor, he is also guilty of ignoring the Ten Commandments themselves, which people in this state seem to so virulently adhere to in the way they vote politically. And he violated the secular law against killing innocents.
If that is not grounds for impeachment, go ahead. Call me crazy on the radio.
Too bad Judge Roy Moore is suspended and on the verge of expulsion from the state Supreme Court. Since he thinks the Ten Commandments are the basis of all our laws, the Legislature could seek an advisory opinion from him on this.
Hey Judge Roy Moore? Do you think Governor Bentley should be impeached and removed from office for killing at least 3,669 innocent people? That’s way more than the 50 who just died in Orlando at the hands of a crazed shooter with a semi-automatic assault rifle that has the country up in arms.
As surely as they were denied health care — simply because ambitious men were willing to play politics with their lives — these people were murdered. Their blood is on Bentley’s hands.
Who will impeach the entire Legislature for this crime against humanity? Will any Democrat even embrace the idea on Facebook? We shall see.
© 2016, Glynn Wilson. All rights reserved.