Alabama House will create commission to investigate impeachment charges against Gov. Robert Bentley

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MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WHNT) - Alabama Rep. Ed Henry, R-Hartselle, introduced articles of impeachment this week against Gov. Robert Bentley.

Now, the House has to figure out how that works.

The Alabama Constitution provides for the impeachment of a governor, chief justice of the Alabama Supreme Court and other officials, but doesn't provide a lot of detail about how that works.

It establishes that the articles will be presented in the House and if passed the matter would get to the Alabama Senate for a trial.

Alabama Rep. Mac McCutcheon said he expects a resolution to be introduced next week that would establish rules for a proposed impeachment.

The measure would also establish a commission of House members who would investigate the charges against Gov. Robert Bentley, including willful neglect of duty, incompetency, corruption in office and offenses of moral turpitude.

The charges stem from Bentley's relationship with his former chief political advisor, Rebekah Mason. Audio recordings of Bentley talking to Mason in intimate terms were made public in the last few weeks, creating a firestorm in Montgomery.

Bentley, who divorced his wife of 50 years in September, denied having a physical relationship with Mason, but admitted “inappropriate” conversations with Mason, who is married with children.

The articles also make a passing reference to Bentley's firing last month of former Alabama Law Enforcement Agency director Spencer Collier. Collier then held a press conference where he publicly accused Bentley of having an affair with Mason. He told reporters he'd uncovered information about the alleged affair and advised the governor that it would be a crime to use state resources to further the affair.

An internal ALEA investigation found potential misuse of funds while Collier headed the agency and that matter has been referred to the Alabama Attorney General's office for investigation.

Collier denies any wrongdoing in connection with the agency and said the investigation stemmed from Mason – who he described as the de facto governor.

Under pressure, Mason resigned her position last week. She served as the governor's chief political advisor but said she was paid through campaign funds. That pay structure has drawn complaints from legislators.

Alabama Rep. Mike Ball, R-Huntsville, a former Alabama Bureau of Investigation agent, said the commission's job will be to investigate the claims and follow the evidence. Ball is a supporter of the impeachment resolution, but he said that doesn't mean the investigation will prejudge the facts of the case against Bentley.

There are 10 days left in the current legislative session and legislators are hopeful the commission can be established and rules put in place.

That means the bulk of the investigation, a possible House vote on impeaching the two-elected governor and any trial in the Senate, could be months away.