New Alabama U.S. Sen. Luther Strange visits Redstone Arsenal, says AG’s office still investigating governor’s office
HUNTSVILLE, Ala. – New Alabama U.S. Sen. Luther Strange spent the day at Redstone Arsenal on Wednesday, gathering information as part of his appointment to the Senate Armed Services Committee.
Strange spent the morning at Redstone Arsenal, broke for a luncheon Q and A with local political and business leaders at Rocket City Tavern at
Redstone Gateway before a planned return to the Arsenal.
He also addressed criticism of Gov. Robert Bentley’s decision to appoint him to the U.S. Senate seat, while the AG’s office was conducting an investigation into the Governor’s office. Strange said his appointment didn’t have any effect on it, prosecutors in the AG’s office are continuing that investigation.
Strange spoke to WHNT News 19 before the luncheon.
He said the tour of Redstone and the visit with various commands and their leadership would help make him more effective in Washington.
“We don’t want to waste money, we want to be smart in how we spend money, but there’s so many challenges around the world, there’s so many needs in our military, and if we’re not supporting our men and women who are out protecting us, we’re not doing our job,” Strange said.
Prior to the meeting with community leaders, Strange said he had a pretty good idea about the focus of the discussion.
“I expect to hear that we have urgent needs in the military, I’ve already, in my two hearings so far in the Senate, gotten that message loud and clear,” he said. “You know we have the (U.S. Army) Materiel Command here, which supplies our entire armed services around the world, we’re in so many different theaters. They absolutely have to have the support of our members of Congress and they do.”
He also waded into the recent controversy concerning his new job.
In the wake of Bentley’s decision to appoint Strange to succeed now-U.S. Attorney Jeff Sessions, Alabama legislators have ratcheted up discussion of the possible impeachment of the governor.
Late last year the Alabama House Judiciary Committee was conducting an active investigation into the charges of corruption in office and neglect of duty against Bentley, when Strange sent the committee a letter on Nov. 3, asking it to suspend that investigation while his office completed “necessary related work.”
But when Bentley announced Strange’s appointment Feb. 9, Strange said little about the investigation, only stressing the letter spoke for itself and that he never said it was an investigation of the governor.
Strange addressed the issue Wednesday.
“The impeachment is up to the Legislature to handle, that’s their job,” he said. “Our office, professional prosecutors, led by one of the most revered in the country, Matt Hart, has been conducting related investigations going back to (former ALEA head) Spencer Collier and the Governor.
“They continue to do that work and they continue to do that work today.”
Strange said he sent the letter to the Judiciary Committee before the election because of logistics issues related to possibly parallel investigations. Given the timing, he questioned how that could be seen as a move to secure the Senate seat.
“Well before the election, way before anybody knew who the president was going to be or Jeff Sessions was ever going to be named Attorney General,” he said. “So, you would have to have some kind of very convoluted idea that I had some anticipation of that.”
Strange said his appointment has not changed the work of the AG’s office. New Attorney General Steve Marshall has recused himself from the investigation and has appointed former Montgomery County DA Ellen Brooks to oversee it.
“The same people that were handling the investigation when I was there, the best team in the country, are still on the job,” he said. “They’re still handling the same investigation, so no changes whatsoever. And I think the people should have great confidence that that will play out exactly as it should.”