INSIDE THE STATEHOUSE
by Steve Flowers, Op-ed
There appears to be very little interest in promoting an effort to impeach Governor Robert Bentley.
With very few legislative days left in the session, legislators have a myriad of problems to deal with, not the least of which are the budgets, especially the General Fund. The financial woes surrounding the General Fund cloud the horizon and justly require more attention than the circus of an impeachment charade.
In this day of wiretapping, videophones, “burner” phones and loose tongues, most legislators do not want to risk the chance that Bentley could have them on the phone with their paramour. In addition, it would be the height of hypocrisy to have the Speaker of the House preside over an impeachment proceeding with a pending trial awaiting him in less than 30 days on 23 ethics law indictments.
It was obvious from the get go that the impeachment idea would get very little traction given the sponsor of the measure. Representative Ed Henry, a first term backbencher from Hartselle, is considered somewhat of a nut with a penchant for grandstanding. His colleagues in the House consider him a joke and refer to him as “Headline Henry.” It is common knowledge that Speaker Hubbard and the House leadership have relegated Henry to the backbench. They do not even recognize him when he seeks to speak. It would be hard for him to pass a resolution honoring apple pie and motherhood, much less pass a bill.
Furthermore, very few House or Senate members want to substitute Lt. Gov. Kay Ivey for Bentley. At least they know what they have in Bentley. They can push him around and basically ignore him. He has been relegated to a benign punch line. He can serve out his next two years cutting ribbons. However, they are not sure about a new lame duck.
Kay Ivey would have very little power, but she could be a loose cannon. Based on reliable sources the Poarch Creek Indians are clearly one of the driving forces behind the effort to have Gov. Robert Bentley impeached. The Poarch Creek Indians clearly would like to see Kay Ivey as Governor for a number of reasons, but primarily to protect their non-taxed monopoly of casino gambling in the state.
The Indian casinos are gearing up for the 2018 elections. However, legislators and gubernatorial aspirants clearly perceive that Alabamians are disenchanted with the “so called Indian Gambling” monopoly. The Indian money may be an albatross to any potential candidates.
This distrust and disdain for the Indian casinos could be the political death for Attorney General Luther Strange. It is well known that Big Luther plans to run for governor in 2018. It is also rumored that Luther will be the Indian casinos’ horse. If that is the case it is very difficult to hide their money under the new campaign finance laws. They are also so arrogant that they pompously, like lizards, want to show their money. This could be the kiss of death for Luther.
On another front, it has gone under the radar with all the Bentley and Hubbard scandals, but the U.S. Attorney in the Middle District of Alabama has stepped into the ring of the casino gambling circus. He may become the ringmaster under the tent.
It should be known by most 9th grade civics students and hopefully by now our Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore, that the federal courts trump the state courts every day of the week. U.S. Attorney George Beck, a very well-respected man and attorney, has weighed in on what he calls an obvious discriminating enforcement of laws by the state.
In a March 21st letter to Luther Strange, Beck adamantly calls out the attorney general for flagrantly giving different and inequitable treatment to the Indians. He clearly asks the attorney general to clarify his position on the matter concerning the Indian casinos and Alabama casinos, especially VictoryLand. Beck focuses on the memorandums of understanding (MOUs) that Attorney General Strange forced the vendors at VictoryLand to sign, which have prevented VictoryLand from reopening.
We could have Gov. Robert Bentley, Speaker Mike Hubbard and Attorney General Luther Strange all in hot water at the same time.
See you next week.
Steve Flowers is Alabama’s leading political columnist. His weekly column appears in over 60 Alabama newspapers. He served 16 years in the state legislature. Steve may be reached at www.steveflowers.us.