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Gov. Bentley’s lawyers move to quash subpoenas in impeachment investigation

MONTGOMERY, Ala. - - Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley’s office said Tuesday it has provided thousands of pages of additional documents to the committee investigating if he should be impeached.

But Bentley’s lawyers also say the House Judiciary Committee should drop the subpoenas it has filed – including a request for 46 categories of records from Bentley – because the committee doesn’t have subpoena power.

Connecticut-based attorney Ross Garber, who is representing the governor’s office in the impeachment investigation, said the Alabama House had bills before it this year that would have given its committees the power to issue and enforce subpoenas.

“And in fact recent legislation was proposed to give the judiciary committee subpoena authority to conduct this exact investigation, and that proposed legislation failed,” Garber said in a conference call Tuesday. “That the chairman of the committee and its special counsel issued a subpoena anyway is outrageous.”

Jack Sharman, the Birmingham-based attorney appointed special counsel by the committee for the impeachment investigation, has argued that the committee has “plenary power” to issue subpoenas. Plenary power is basically the power to do a job.

Sharman, who do not respond to requests for comment Tuesday, has said it doesn’t make sense that Alabama’s constitution would give the House of Representatives the power to impeach a governor, without the tools to do an investigation before deciding on impeachment.

Garber called the plenary power argument “nonsense.”

He said the U.S. Congress has plenary power, but when it issues subpoenas in the House or Senate it’s following a statute or creates a resolution for those subpoenas.

It’s not clear what happens next.

The governor’s office filed a motion to quash the subpoenas and also filed an objection to the issuing of subpoenas.

Bentley is facing two articles of impeachment, corruption in office and neglect of duty.

The charges appear to stem from allegations made by former Alabama Law Enforcement Chief Spencer Collier that Bentley had an affair with his former top political advisor Rebekah Mason. Collier was fired by Bentley in March

After his firing Collier said he’d previously warned Bentley that using state resources to further the affair was a crime.

Bentley has admitted to making inappropriate comments to Mason, but both he and Mason have denied a physical affair took place.