A new article in The New York Times casts a shadow on Gov. Robert Bentley’s appointment of former Attorney General Luther Strange to the U.S. Senate.
Author Alan Blinder writes that Strange, who was elected Alabama Attorney General in 2010 and 2014, has seen his popularity wane after accepting the appointment, especially considering his former office was in spearheading an investigation into the scandal-plagued governor.
Though no state lawmakers have come forward with evidence, many have publicly opined that Strange’s appointment was an attempt Bentley to quash the investigation.
Whether or not that was Bentley’s goal, Strange was quoted after his appointment that speculation about inquiries on Bentley was “unfair to him and unfair to the process,” adding that “we have never said in our office that we are investigating the governor.”
Strange also deflected any appearance of impropriety by saying prosecutors in the Attorney General’s office would “relentlessly pursue the rule of law.”
“My own commitment to rooting out corruption in government speaks for itself,” he said. “That vow has never wavered and will continue to guide me as I serve the people of Alabama in the U.S. Senate.”
Strange’s replacement, Steven Marshall, confirmed soon after he took the job that there was indeed an investigation into Bentley and he appointed a special prosecutor to take the reigns on the case. Matt Hart, one of the lawyers responsible for the conviction of former House Speaker Michael Hubbard, is also involved in the inquiry.
Still, some state lawmakers say the cloud surrounding Strange’s appointment could hamstring him during the 2018 special election to decide former U.S. Sen. Jeff Sessions permanent replacement.
“He would have been solid, and he probably would have beaten the governor’s appointment,” said Republican State Rep. Corey Harbison, adding that “Luther’s ambition to become a United States senator caused him to do things that I don’t think he would have done in normal circumstances.”