New Alabama AG says he doesn’t know if his office is investigating Gov. Bentley
MONTGOMERY, Ala. — Longtime Marshall County District Attorney Steve Marshall was sworn in Monday morning as Alabama Attorney General and vowed to recuse himself in any investigation of Gov. Robert Bentley.
Bentley’s appointment of a new attorney general has raised questions around the state, since an impeachment investigation in the Alabama House was suspended at the request of then-Attorney General Luther Strange. Bentley named Strange to the U.S. Senate last week.
‘’I understand the cloud that somewhat exists, relating to why I’m here,” Marshall said.
Marshall said Monday he didn’t know if there was an ongoing investigation of Bentley, but that he would find that out Tuesday in a meeting with AG’s office staffers.
If there is an investigation, Marshall said he would recuse himself from it.
“I’ve prosecuted people that I’ve gone to church with, that I’ve worked with, that I’ve had dinner with, that I’ve otherwise been around,” he said. “But I also understand the circumstances of this appointment. It is such that the people could believe that I could not be fair. If that’s the case, then it’s my obligation to recuse, and I will.”
Marshall was named by Bentley on Friday to succeed Strange. Strange was picked by the governor to replace Jeff Sessions in the U.S. Senate after Sessions was confirmed as U.S. Attorney General last week.
Marshall said he won’t interfere in any impeachment investigation and would meet with the Judiciary Committee’s chairman.
“I will meet with Representative Mike Jones who is leading that, partly to be able to share with him and the nature of whether I’ll have to recuse,” Marshall said. “If I have to recuse, I do not believe I would be the appropriate party to advise them on where to go. But I will make sure if, in fact, an investigation is ongoing here, that they will be able to deal directly with the person who will be responsible for that investigation.”
Marshall said recusals will be rare in his office and they will consult the Alabama Bar Association and the U.S. District Attorney’s Association for guidance on possible conflicts.
“One of the criticisms that I’ve heard of this office before was that the Attorney General recused in too many cases,” he said. “And I get that because in this role, I’m the one that is ultimately accountable by the ballot box to the people of this state.”
The AG’s office would continue to pursue public corruption cases, Marshall said.
“I think this office maintains the emphasis in the area of public corruption,” he said. “We need to make sure that the people of this state understand that if you’re a public employee or a public official that we will enforce the ethics laws and we will do that clearly across the board.”
Marshall also stressed there was nothing inappropriate in his discussions with Bentley, prior to taking the job.
“Gov. Bentley has been nothing but professional,” Marshall said. “He has discussed criminal justice policy. He’s talked about issues that have faced this state. But never once in the discussion I had with him did he discuss his personal problems.
“If he had, I’d still be in Marshall County.”