THIS WEEK IN PRINT: Unraveling Montgomery’s Mess
April 20, 2017
Southern Torch (3351 articles)
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THIS WEEK IN PRINT: Unraveling Montgomery’s Mess

PHOTO: Governor Kay Ivey signs proclamation setting dates of the Special Election for Attorney General Jeff Session’s former senate seat. (Office of Governor Kay Ivey)

By Tyler Pruett, Managing Editor

tyler@southerntorch.com

MONTGOMERY, Ala. — It’s been a wild couple of weeks in Montgomery, to say the least. While many may feel lost in the quagmire of constantly changing narratives and differing perspectives, we’ll attempt this week to simply explain the significance of it all.

In the most recent news at the time of print, newly sworn-in Governor Kay Ivey has announced that a special election will be held this year for the seat vacated by U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions. This being a change from the initial date set. 

Currently, the seat is occupied by Luther Strange, who was Alabama’s Attorney General when appointed to the coveted senate seat, which is arguably more powerful than the Governor himself. Before Donald Trump won the election and announced that Jeff Sessions would be vacating the seat, Strange was front-and-center with the investigation into then-Governor Robert Bentley’s alleged use of state resources to cover up his affair with a staffer.

Strange even sent a memo to state lawmakers, asking them to cease pursuing an impeachment investigation because his office was currently investigating Bentley, but that all changed when Donald Trump won the presidential election.

After it was announced that Jeff Sessions would be vacating the senate seat to become the next U.S. Attorney General, Strange’s statements on the Bentley investigation changed from referencing an ongoing investigation to basically saying, what investigation?

Strange also announced he would run for the vacant seat during the special election, and also announced that he would be talking to Bentley about the appointment to fill the vacancy, but not about any wrongdoing by the former governor. After interviewing 20 potential appointees, Bentley selected Strange, the only one of the potential candidates that had been investigating the governor’s scandals.

After the seat was vacated, Bentley announced a special election date for the seat, which would coincide with the 2018 Elections, in an effort to, “comply with federal and state statutes and cases, save unnecessary expense on a costly separate statewide special election, and setting a time that is expected to increase voter participation.”

While a statewide special election can be very costly and generally exhibit low-turnout, according to Ivey’s office, the governor must, “forthwith order an election,” if the vacancy occurs more than four months before the next general election, which is in 2018. This seat became vacant over a year before the next general election. So no, the law wasn’t followed, as Bentley claimed.

To sum it all up, the Alabama Attorney General’s Office (Luther Strange) was investigating Robert Bentley (or at least claimed to be), and requested members of the House of Representatives cease their investigation, so not to interfere. The request was granted, and Strange then claimed there wasn’t an investigation, conveniently when the governor had a U.S. Senate to give away.

While the whole thing looks suspicious, to say the least, Strange will have the chance to retain his seat, but only after he faces those who he does not have the power of investigation over: the Alabama voters.

While Montgomery has a long way to go in unraveling this mess, our new governor has taken a step in the right direction towards making things as right as they can be.

Southern Torch

Southern Torch

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