Drama reigns in state politics
Published 10:53 pm Tuesday, August 2, 2016
By Steve Flowers
Steve is a former legislator and is now the state’s leading political columnist.
Now that the national conventions are over and we have had a glimpse of what to expect in the upcoming fall presidential contest, let us turn our attention back to our good ole state politics.
Even though we do not have any good state races this year, it does not mean that we have not had our share of political happenings. We have been so active that we have garnered national publicity.
Let us reminisce and get you caught up on our soap opera, As the World Turns in Alabama Politics. As the year began we knew that the Mike Hubbard corruption trial would finally unfold. It ended in a convincing conviction and the removal of the once powerful speaker from office and legislative leadership.
We all knew of our good old Dr. Robert Bentley’s illicit relationship with his political advisor Rebekah Caldwell Mason but it seemed that it had maybe settled down. However, his fired former friend, Spencer Collier, came after Bentley and his girlfriend with a vengeance. There is an old saying that hell hath no fury like a woman scorned. Well you can add another adage that could be applied to best male friends scorned. Bentley and Collier were best buddies while in the Legislature. Most of Bentley’s cabinet has come from guys that served with him in the House of Representatives.
Spencer Collier was a state trooper by profession. He cherished the post of heading ALEA. Therefore, when Bentley fired him he turned on his doctor/governor buddy. He has filed suit and spilled the beans on all of the sordid details of Bentley’s affair.
It does not appear to me that Collier has much of a case. Cabinet members serve at the pleasure of the governor and the governor can remove them for any reason. It is not a bureaucratic merit system position. Regardless, the damage has been done to Bentley and Mason. Our homespun, pious governor has been relegated to a national punchline. He continues to be fodder for late night talk shows and cartoonists. He has rendered himself totally irrelevant.
The third saga of the year has been the removal of Chief Justice Roy Moore from his high tribunal office by the State Judicial Inquiry Commission. This commission has set a hearing for next week, Aug. 8, to decide the fate of our renowned religious judge.
This vague Judicial Inquiry Commission brought six charges of misconduct against Moore, which triggered his automatic suspension on May 6. The charges stemmed from Moore’s Jan. 6 order telling probate judges they had a ministerial duty not to issue same sex marriage licenses. This came after the U.S. Supreme Court had ruled such bans were unconstitutional.
The Commission said that Moore’s directive placed all 68 probate judges in an untenable position and forced them to violate the state’s cannon of ethics. Moore contends that his marriage order was simply advice and they did not have to follow his advice.