Hearing set for Tuesday to challenge Robert Bentley’s BP spending

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A hearing has been set for Tuesday on motions by state officials seeking to dismiss a lawsuit challenging Gov. Robert Bentley’s spending of funds from the BP oil spill settlement.

Red Bay Democrat, state Rep. Johnny Mack Morrow along with State Auditor Jim Zeigler filed suit in July, alleging Bentley is illegally spending BP settlement funds without authority from the state Legislature. They seek a declaratory judgment and injunction.

Circuit Judge Greg Griffin will hear both sides at a 9 a.m. hearing in Montgomery County Circuit Court Tuesday.

“Gov. Bentley is acting as a one-man Legislature,” Zeigler said Saturday. “He is both appropriating and spending money that belongs to the state. This needs to stop now.”

Lawyers for Bentley and other officials moved to dismiss the suit, saying a state legislator and the state auditor lack legal standing to challenge the spending.

Attorneys for Morrow and Zeigler responded that the two officials: “Have brought this Declaratory Judgement Action in both their individual and official capacities, as an Alabama State Representative and as the individual responsible for carrying out the duties and obligation as Alabama’s State Auditor, respectively.”

They are asking Judge Griffin to declare that “Defendants’ expenditures of state funds on the Lodge and Conference Center at Gulf State Park are unconstitutional and illegal.”

Bentley spent $1.8 million in BP funds to repair the governor’s beach house at Gulf Shores. He is now spending an estimated $35 million in BP funds building a four-star hotel and conference center where the former Gulf State Lodge was located in Gulf Shores.

 

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