The Crimson Tide football team fell just short of a national championship this year, but Alabama Governor Robert Bentley and newly-minted U.S. Senator Luther Strange have hands-down won the national title for down-in-the-gutter corruption, no play-off required.
The Luv Guv’s decision to appoint former Alabama Attorney General Strange, whose office was investigating Bentley’s various misdeeds, to fill the senate seat vacated by U.S. Attorney Jeff Sessions upon his elevation, God help us, to be the nation’s top cop, is the most nakedly corrupt act I’ve observed in my 30 years watching politics (and I live in Alabama). Naked is without a doubt the right word. Kyle Whitmire of AMG’s AL.com wrote this week that it’s “so nakedly political that someone should charge them with indecent exposure.” The Decatur Times-Daily did a good job summarizing the situation and Montgomery’s reaction to it:
Some Alabama Republicans in the Statehouse today said Gov. Robert Bentley’s appointment of Attorney General Luther Strange to the U.S. Senate is awkward and that they would have advised against it.
Some were very direct about it.
“The optics of that are horrible,” said Rep. Ed Henry, R-Hartselle. “It makes us all look corrupt, it looks like collusion and I believe the people of this state deserve better government.”
Henry last year began the impeachment process against Bentley.
Bentley announced the appointment of Strange this morning. It comes two months after Strange, then the state attorney general, asked an Alabama House committee to pause an impeachment probe of Bentley, who was accused last year of having an affair with a onetime top political adviser. Strange said at the time that his office was doing “related work,” though he never publicly elaborated on what it involved or when the work would be completed.
Bentley has acknowledged making personal mistakes, but denied doing anything legally wrong.
“I do not understand how Attorney General Strange can stop an impeachment proceeding and then in a matter of weeks, turn around and petition for an appointment for the very person he stopped the impeachment for,” Henry said.
“The air of corruption is thick.”
Thick indeed. The embattled governor takes the AG tasked with prosecuting him, sends him to Washington, and now has appointed Steve Marshall, an obscure Marshall County district attorney, to fill Strange’s post. Does anyone believe for one nano-second that Bentley failed to select a new AG who is uninterested in prosecuting the Phone Sexer-in-Chief? Why didn’t a hard-nosed prosecutor like Matt Hart or Alice Martin get the job?
Because the whole damned thing is a transparent scheme to allow Bentley to choose his prosecutor (or non-prosecutor).
It stinks to the high heavens.
Alabama has always been in the running to be the most corrupt state in America. With Bentley’s newest machinations, he has crowned Alabama the champion of all time.
Yay Alabama. Yay?