MONTGOMERY, Ala. – Today is the first day back for state lawmakers after a break, and it’s sure to be busy.
Representative Ed Henry (R-Hartselle) will hold a news conference at 12:30 p.m. at the State House regarding articles of impeachment he plans to introduce against Governor Robert Bentley. He still plans to introduce the articles of impeachment at the start of the session.
WHNT News 19 has a team in Montgomery. We plan to stream the news conference live on WHNT.com.
Rep. Henry said he does not believe he needs to prove Governor Robert Bentley acted criminally, to begin the impeachment process. He said he is basing his articles of impeachment on the governor’s “incompetence to fulfill his position.” He said he already has the papers drawn, and an attorney reviewed them Monday evening.
This is in response to the governor’s alleged actions or improper conversation with former aide Rebekah Mason, said Henry.
Rep. Will Ainsworth (R-Guntersville) said Monday that he supports Henry’s efforts. But in the event impeachment doesn’t work, he’s working on another way.
“We’re going to introduce two different recall bills and that’ll give the public an ability to recall any elected official in the state of Alabama that’s elected to a statewide office,” he said.
Rep. Ainsworth said the voters need the opportunity to call for a recall, because right now the state has no defined procedure in place.
"I think it's just an important tool to give the public, and I think any time you give the people the option to go in and hold elected officials accountable, that's a great thing," he said.
Ainsworth said the way it would work is this: the people would need to create ballot initiative list of signatures, and get a certain amount of signatures on it to move forward. By the way it's drafted, there would need to be 30% of the amount of statewide total votes for the office they're trying to recall, on the signature list. In Gov. Bentley's case, out of a total 1,174,575 votes for governor in the last election, the 30% threshold would be 352,372. That many signatures, or more, would be required to move ahead in a recall, if this bill is passed.
"That's a lot of signatures, but it's important," he said. "A recall is a big deal, it's not something we want to abuse. So we set the threshold high, but fair enough that it's achievable," commented Rep. Ainsworth.
Ainsworth didn't confirm our math above, but he did say after "hundreds of thousands of signatures" if this bill passed, the signatures would go to the Secretary of State's office and then the Secretary of State could hold a recall election. Voters would be voting for or against removing a public official from office.
He wanted to do this last year, Ainsworth said, but now is as good a time as any.
"I'm disappointed [in the governor,]" he explained. "Just for the state of Alabama, I hope it doesn't hurt us. I'm concerned about the future of our state. The most honorable thing he could do is resign."
In the event the governor chooses not to do that, it's possible this set of bills could create another option. He believes he can find support for them.