Jim Zeigler asks legal fees be halted until Robert Bentley impeachment resumes

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Alabama Auditor Jim Zeigler has asked the state’s Contract Review Committee to delay a contract for legal services for the impeachment investigation of Gov. Robert Bentley. The investigation was halted at the request of then-attorney general Luther Strange on Nov. 3.

Zeigler says the proposed $160,000 contract would be an additional payment to the Birmingham law firm of Lightfoot Franklin & White LLC for its outside representation and doesn’t need to be paid until the impeachment investigation resumes. If paid, the contract would make the total legal payments to investigate the governor total $350,000.

The contract review panel is scheduled to Thursday, March 2 to review proposed contracts from state agencies.

“Right now, the people of Alabama are being hit with costs of an impeachment investigation, but no investigation is being done. All cost – no investigation. That is unacceptable,” Zeigler said Tuesday.  “Please delay approval of this contract until the impeachment is actually resumed. It is frustrating for the people of Alabama that the impeachment investigation has been halted but the legal cost to taxpayers is continuing.

New Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall has confirmed Bentley is still under investigation, recused himself accordingly, and appointed former Montgomery District Attorney Ellen Brooks as special prosecutor.

“The continuing legal cost is concerning because the impeachment investigation is not continuing,” Zeigler continued. “House Judiciary Chairman, Rep. Mike Jones, said on Feb. 15 that he is waiting on clearance from new Special Prosecutor Ellen Brooks for the impeachment investigation to resume.”

The House impeachment investigation began in the 2016 legislative session when 23 House members signed an impeachment resolution. It was referred to the House Judiciary Committee and made little progress before Chairman Jones halted it at the request of Strange Nov. 3.

Below is Zeigler’s request to the Contract Review Committee.