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Alabama Legislators, Attorney General want to overhaul state ethics laws

MONTGOMERY, Ala. -- Alabama’s ethics laws have been at the center of a seismic shift in state politics over the past four years, but now legislators and the Attorney General’s office say changes need to be made.

Both then-Gov. Robert Bentley and former House Speaker Mike Hubbard ran afoul of state ethics laws.

Bentley resigned in April 2017 after pleading guilty to campaign finance violations, including using campaign funds to pay for his alleged mistress’s legal bills and Hubbard was convicted in 2016 of 12 felony ethics violations related to allegations he used his office for personal enrichment.

Hubbard is appealing his conviction.

Alabama Sen. President Del Marsh introduced a bill last week endorsed by Attorney General Steve Marshall that would substantially overhaul the ethics laws.

Alabama Sen. Arthur Orr, R-Decatur, said the laws are more than 40 years old and have been revised at least 25 times. Orr said the laws affect more than 300,000 people in Alabama including public officials and their families, everyone from the Governor to school bus drivers.

But the overhaul is going to take some time.

Thursday, while flanked by legislative leaders in Montgomery, Marshall said he supports Orr’s measure forming an Ethics Clarification and Reform Commission.

“Going forward, this work and this group will allow us to put together a package that will bring Alabama to the point that we can say that we have the clearest and strongest ethics laws in the country,” Marshall said.

The commission will meet openly Orr said, and will include people across the spectrum who deal with the public’s business in Alabama and is expected to provide recommendations for an ethics law overhaul for 2019.