The impact of Bentley resignation on the legislature and proposed bills

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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. -- WHNT News 19 sat down with political analyst Jess Brown for some insight into the legislative impact of Governor Robert Bentley's resignation.

Brown calls the situation with Bentley the state's "most serious embarrassment".

"Not only an abuse of power, but it represents poor judgement and childish behavior on behalf of a 74-year-old governor," he said.

After repeated claims he wouldn't resign, Brown thinks this move comes from Bentley's lawyers.

"Your political health is already terminal. You have no political influence, the only thing you have left is resignation as a bargaining chip in criminal justice proceedings," said Brown.

There are four sections related to impeachment in the Alabama Constitution.

"That's the exact phrase, is 'corruption in office is grounds for impeachment'. And I certainly think with the data dump I saw this weekend credible claims can be made by the house," said Brown.

He said now, legislators need to do more than just talk. "They need actions that go further than merely sympathizing or empathizing with public opinion," said Brown.

For example, changes to the state ethics law about what constitutes a thing of value a public official should not solicit or receive in exchange for governmental action.

"They list specifically what those things are. Sexual gratification is not on the list," said Brown.

"The tremendous public attention that's been paid to the Bentley situation because sex was involved in the issue, means legislators feel more accountable," he explained.

But despite everything going on with Bentley, the Alabama legislature has their own issues to work through. Namely, a number of controversial bills that are on the table of this legislative session. With Bentley's departure, it could be a whole new ballgame.

"If some of these bills fail, legislative leadership will use the Bentley situation as an excuse for inaction," said Brown.

He doesn't think that's actually the case though.

"Governor Bentley has been weak in legislative sessions for a long, long time. Long before this session started," explained Brown.

A bill that has everyone talking is SB24 and pistol permits. Brown thinks that's one example of what won't pass.

"The reason it won't, won't have anything to do with Governor Bentley. It will have to do with interest group conflict that results in divisions within the Republican ranks," he said.

Brown said Lieutenant Governor Kay Ivey coming into office under these circumstances is the equivalent of a landslide victory.

"How will she use that political capital to impact other issues? Whether it's prison structures or whatever," he said.

As compared to Bentley, in terms of everything on the legislative table, what happens now is up to her.

"[Ivey] She could make a real difference," said Brown.


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