Impeachment possible after Alabama governor accused of affair

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An Alabama law professor says Gov. Robert Bentley could be removed for moral turpitude (KTRK)

A sitting Republican governor may be impeached on allegations he had an affair with a member of his staff.

Governor Robert Bentley denied having a 'physical affair' with his former spokeswoman last week, setting into motion the possibility of his removal from office.

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Another Republican lawmaker says they are beginning to process to impeach Bentley in the statehouse in Birmingham.

Samford University law professor John Caroll says, however, Bentley's alleged indiscretions are nothing like that of President Bill Clinton.

"Some people are comparing this to President Clinton and his impeachment," Caroll says. "I think it's important to understand President Clinton was not impeached for the sex act. President Clinton was impeached on two counts: Lying under oath and obstruction of justice."

Justice Caroll says right now it's too early to tell if Governor Bentley meets the threshold for impeachment.

"Well, the problem is we do not know a lot of the facts, the possible facts, of this case," Caroll says.

According to Article 173 of the Alabama constitution, he says, to be impeached, the governor would have had to commit willful neglect of duty, corruption in office or any offense involving moral turpitude -- which Judge Carroll says is a very gray line.

He says impeachment begins with the House of Representatives.

They would have to bring articles of impeachment against the governor, and then the senate takes over.

"In other words, it's very much like a grand jury," Caroll says. "The house would return the charges against the governor. Then, the case moves to the senate, and the senate acts like a jury, and there's actually a trial in front of the senate, where all of the senators vote up or down."

Carroll served in Montgomery for more than a decade as a federal judge.

He says this scandal is beyond unique.

"This has so many potential tentacles: criminal actions, civil action, impeachment, really never have seen anything quite like this in my 40 years of being a lawyer," Carroll says.

Alabama State Representative Ed Henry said Wednesday that he plans to introduce a resolution to begin impeachment proceedings.

He said that will come next week, when the legislation returns from spring break.

Henry, a Republican himself, has frequently clashed with the governor on policy over the last two years.

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politicsscandalpolitical scandalu.s. & worldAlabama
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