In 2014 State Auditor Jim Zeigler was elected by “opposing mismanagement and waste in government.”
That issue initially put him at odds with much of the Montgomery, Ala. political establishment.
But now, Zeigler says a “small but growing number of business political action committees” are starting to see the value of what he’s doing.
In his recently filed April campaign finance report, Zeigler shows he’s picked up support from five political action committees (PACs), each contributing $5,000 a piece for a total of $25,000:
“I am not going to pretend that a majority of the businesses interests and PACs are now supporting me – that would not be true – yet. But some are starting to understand that we do need a watchman against waste and mismanagement,” Zeigler said.
Previously Zeigler picked up the endorsement of ALFA affiliate FARMPAC and an additional $5,000 contribution.
“I am gratified that the business community is starting to understand what I am doing and that a watchman for taxpayers is sorely needed in state government,” explained Zeigler. “I believe I have turned the corner and will get growing support from business. This is just the start.”
“I have always been underfunded in my campaigns,” Zeigler added. “This time, I will have adequate funds to get my message out.”
During his time as State Auditor, Zeigler has been a consistent critic of government mismanagement and abuse, and called out former Gov. Robert Bentley on numerous occasions for doing so.
During the Bentley administration, Zeigler filed the initial ethics complaint against him. On April 5, 2017, the ethics commission found probable cause that Bentley had committed felony violations, including Zeigler’s complaint. Five days later, Bentley resigned.
As State Auditor, Zeigler also exposed Bentley’s diversion of $1.8 million of the BP settlement money to restore the governor’s mansion at the beach, which came in the wake of Bentley losing his own personal beach home in his divorce from his wife of 50 years.
Zeigler later sued to invalidate the troubled STAARS software contract, claiming it was an illegal no-bid contract. The state then canceled the $47 million STAARS contract.
In the wake of cuts to the State Auditor’s office operating budget, Zeigler announced in June 2017 in order to help keep the State Auditor’s office operating he would, in addition to his normal duties as State Auditor, also train to work as a field auditor. There he will do the actual property inventory of the state’s 175 agencies totaling over $1.1 billion in state property.
Despite the budget cuts, Zeigler says his office is up-to-date on all audits “despite suffering cuts of 28.5%” to his budget in the last two Bentley budget bills, which whittled his staff from eleven to five and a half.
Two weeks ago, Zeigler’s auditors were told to move out of the Alabama Statehouse, where they have been housed since 2007. He is now seeking space for the auditors.
“Under adverse circumstances, we have continued to get things done for the taxpayers of Alabama,” Zeigler concluded.