Alabama House, Gov. Bentley both add top lawyers for impeachment fight
MONTGOMERY, Ala. — The Alabama House Judiciary Committee today named Birmingham-based attorney Jack Sharman to serve as counsel in its impeachment investigation of Gov. Robert Bentley.
Sharman, a Harvard Law School graduate served as special counsel to the Whitewater Committee that investigated then-President Bill Clinton and First Lady Hillary Clinton in the early 1990s.
Bentley’s office also announced it was hiring an attorney Friday to handle the impeachment case.
Ross Garber, a Connecticut-based attorney, will “represent the Office of the Governor and Governor Bentley in his official capacity in connection with pending inquiries by a committee of the House of Representatives.
Garber’s law firm bio says he has “represented two governors in impeachment proceedings – Gov. Mark Sanford of South Carolina and Gov. John Rowland of Connecticut.” Rowland resigned from office, Sanford was censured but completed his term.
The judiciary committee is charged with investigating two articles of impeachment against Bentley: neglect of duty and corruption in office. The charges appear to stem from the Governors’ alleged relationship with his former chief political advisor Rebekah Mason.
The articles were signed by 23 House members, including Rep. Mike Ball of Huntsville, who sits on the Judiciary Committee.
Alabama law doesn’t provide much detail on how the impeachment process should work, but it requires a full House vote aimed at removing a top elected official from office and then a trial in the Alabama Senate.
Bentley said the committee’s move to hire special counsel prompted the hiring of Garber.
“It is my intention to fully work with the House Judiciary Committee during this procedure as it pertains to the Alabama Constitution and the U.S. Constitution,” Governor Bentley said in news release. “The committee has deemed it necessary to obtain Special Counsel and it only makes sense that I do the same. I will be cooperative throughout this process and I appreciate Ross’ willingness to represent me in my official capacity.”
The governor’s office said Garber’s contract would be addressed by state officials in the coming months.
“Garber’s contract will go before the Contract Review Committee on September 1, 2016 for final approval,” Bentley’s office said. “Garber’s firm has agreed to undertake this work at a discounted rate of $195 per hour.”