Alabama House panel issues subpoenas in impeachment probe
MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — Alabama’s House Judiciary Committee on Thursday subpoenaed documents from Gov. Robert Bentley and others as part of ongoing impeachment investigation.
The committee is seeking a lengthy list of documents from Bentley, his former political adviser Rebekah Caldwell Mason and others. The subpoenaed documents include five years of the governor’s tax returns and bank records, personnel records, cellphone records, text messages and any government payments to companies belonging to Mason and her husband. The subpoenas gave Bentley and Mason until 5 p.m. Oct. 10 to comply.
“If they fail to comply, we will take appropriate action,” Judiciary Committee Chairman Representative Mike Jones, R-Andalusia, said in a statement.
The demand for materials came after special counsel Jack Sharman told the committee this week that he was getting little voluntary cooperation when he requested documents. However, it remained unclear if the committee could actually enforce the subpoenas. Sharman told committee members Tuesday that they would likely have to go to court.
The subpoenas are the latest twist in the slow-moving impeachment probe launched after the governor’s fired law enforcement secretary accused Bentley of having an affair with Mason and of interfering in law enforcement business. Bentley, who is now divorced, admitted to inappropriate behavior that caused him to apologize to his family but denied a sexual affair and the other allegations.
Bentley lawyer Ross Garber had not seen the subpoenas but said the governor’s office was cooperating in providing relevant documents to the committee.
However, he said Sharman’s initial document request — which was similar to the documents requested Thursday — was “incredibly broad and abusive.”
“The request seemed to be drafted as either a fishing expedition or to put on a show,” Garber said.
The governor’s office voluntarily turned over 1,500 pages of material Tuesday to Sharman, including schedules, flight logs and other records.
Mason’s attorney, Bobby Segall, said he planned to review the law and then “respond in some appropriate way to the subpoenas.”
The committee’s ability to compel testimony and document production has been a key legal question since the investigation was launched.
Garber said the committee does not have subpoena power. Sharman told committee members Tuesday that he thought there was a “path” for enforcement. He said it would likely require the committee holding a person in contempt and then going to court to seek a court order requiring the person to comply.