Fifteen members of the House Judiciary Committee are set to begin hearing testimony Monday morning to determine whether to impeach Gov. Robert Bentley.
If the committee votes for impeachment, the issue would go before the full House. If members there voted for impeachment, Bentley would be suspended from his job as governor and face trial by the state Senate. If two-third of senators voted to convict Bentley, he would be removed from office.
It all starts with the Judiciary Committee. Here are its members:
Chairman – Rep. Mike Jones, R-Andalusia, was elected to the Legislature in 2011. The 52-year-old is a former Andalusia city councilman and municipal judge.
While in the Legislature, Jones has taken a particular interest in prisons. He co-sponsored a bill two years ago that was aimed at reducing the prison population in favor of community-based supervision. He also has served on the Alabama Prison Reform Task Force.
Jones in a news conference in February said the allegations against the governor were casting a cloud over state government and making it difficult to address the state’s problems. But he said it was important that the impeachment process be guided by facts and evidence, according to an article published by AL.com.
“No matter whether you like, dislike, agree or disagree with impeachment, the governor was elected by a vast percentage of the people of this state,” Jones said. “And we can’t take this lightly and never should take lightly. This process was designed to vet out the issue, to get facts. And as much evidence before the committee as possible so that we make decisions based on real facts and real evidence and testimony.”
Vice Chairman – Rep. Jim Hill, R-Moody, 67, has served in the Legislature since 2014. He is a retired St. Clair County Circuit Court judge and previously a St. Clair County District Court Judge. He has taken a particular interest in juvenile justice during his career and this year has introduced several bills having to do with courts and probate judges, including one to assess the need for judges in each circuit in the state.
Last month, he defended the Judiciary Committee and Special Counsel Jack Sharman against allegations by Bentley’s lawyer that Sharman had taken control of the investigation and it was “off the rails.”
“Jack Sharman is carrying out the duties assigned to him by the Judiciary Committee,” Hill said in a statement. “Jack has the complete support of the committee’s leadership.”
However, Hill made the motion last month to keep the investigation on hold because of concerns that the impeachment process would endanger the potential for a criminal case against Bentley down the road. The motion arising from concerns about double jeopardy failed on a tie vote. But later that week, committee members unanimously passed a different motion to move forward with the investigation after having their double jeopardy concerns addressed.
Ranking Minority Leader – Rep. Marcel Black, D-Tuscumbia, is an attorney in the firm of Black and Hughston. The 66-year-old has served in the House since 1990. Black weighed in last week after a judge temporarily delayed impeachment hearings and some legislators proposed skipping the hearings and going straight to a vote in the House.
“We’ve started our work, and until you have an opportunity for the governor to present any evidence or defense, I think it would be premature to go right into the impeachment process,” Black said in a statement.
Rep. Mike Ball, R-Madison, 62, was a co-sponsor of the first resolution to impeach Bentley. He said at the time that allegations Bentley had a romantic relationship with former aide Rebekah Mason had created a “crisis of confidence” that needed to be resolved. WBRC quoted Ball as saying, “It’s one of the dumbest things that I have ever seen in my life.”
Ball was elected to the House in 2002. He also is chairman of the House Ethics and Campaign Finance Committee. He is the owner of Ball Roofing and previously served as an agent with the Alabama Bureau of Investigation and a State Trooper.
Rep. Paul Beckman, R-Prattville, was first elected to the House in 2010. The 64-year-old is an attorney with Capouano, Beckman and Russell and mainly focuses on bankruptcy law, debtor/creditor law, commercial law and business law, according to his Facebook page. He previously held a license to teach in K-12.
Beckman earlier this year pushed for the committee to reactivate its investigation into Bentley. The impeachment investigation had been put on hold in the fall to give the Attorney General’s Office time to conduct its own investigation.
“I believe the committee needs to restart its work and resolve this issue already,” Beckman told Inside Alabama Politics. “I feel like the governor, possibly with help from the attorney general, is trying to run out the clock on this thing.”
Rep. Merika Coleman, D-Birmingham, was first elected to the House in 2002. The 43-year-old is an assistant professor of political science at Miles College. She previously was director of community and economic development for the city of Bessemer and for Lawson State Community College, according to her legislative web page. She also recently was named House assistant minority leader.
Coleman has supporting restarting the impeachment investigation, saying there was a growing urgency among House members to get it done.
Rep. Dickie Drake, R-Leeds, is a retired U.S. Air Force chief master sergeant and owner of Drake Lawn Maintenance. He was first elected to the House in 2011 to fill the seat left vacant when his brother, Owen Drake, died.
Drake served on the subcommittee that recommended Jack Sharman as special counsel to the Judiciary Committee.
Rep. Chris England, D-Tuscaloosa, 40, was first elected to the House in 2006 and is associate city attorney for the city of Tuscaloosa.
England introduced the motion that the special counsel resume the impeachment investigation last month, believing it would not cause a double jeopardy issue even though there was a criminal investigation into some of the same situations.
Rep. Allen Farley, R-McCalla, was first elected to the House in 2010. Farley had a 36-year career in law enforcement, the last seven of as assistant Jefferson County sheriff. Farley was a co-sponsor of the first resolution to impeach Bentley.
Attorneys for Bentley at least twice have called on Farley to resign from the Judiciary Committee, once because he signed the original impeachment resolution and later after he released a recording he had made in 2015 of a conversation with Bentley. The governor said in that conversation that he was anti-gambling, but later he supported a lottery.
Farley also was one of the representatives who pushed to restart the investigation earlier this year.
Rep. David Faulkner, R-Mountain Brook, was first elected to the Legislature in 2014. He is a lawyer with Christian & Small.
He served on the subcommittee that recommended Sharman as special counsel in the case.
Matt Fridy, R-Montevallo, was elected to the House in 2014. He is an attorney with the law firm of Wallace, Jordan, Ratliff and Brandt. He was chairman of the Shelby County Republican Party for two terms, currently serves on the Alabama Republican Executive Committee and has managed several campaigns for others seeking office before running himself.
Fridy was the representative who introduced the resolution last year that set up a procedure to review impeachment articles. He said the resolution wasn’t specifically aimed at Bentley, but would set up a process the Legislature could use any time in the future.
Rep. Juandalynn Givan, D-Birmingham, was first elected to the House in 2010. She is the owner of Givan & Associates Law Firm, which includes government relations and program management consulting services, according to her legislative web page.
Givan has expressed some reservations about the impeachment, telling the Anniston Star when the issue first was brought up last year, “It’s not my business who the governor sleeps with.”
She also has said she wanted to make sure Bentley would be given due process. She told WBRC last week that she wasn’t sure he’d been given enough time to respond to charges leveled in the special counsel’s report, which was issued Friday. Last year, she introduced a change in the Judiciary Committee’s impeachment rules that give Bentley’s attorneys the power to cross examine witnesses.
She also sponsored the constitutional amendment to require a two-thirds vote in the Senate to remove an impeached official from office. The amendment, which was part of an overall attempt to define impeachment procedures, passed in November.
“At the end of the day, I still do not think that the governor will be impeached,” Givan told AL.com earlier this year. “I just do not think there will be enough votes in the Senate for that.”
Rep. Mike Holmes, R-Wetumpka, was elected to the House in 2014. He is a former high school teacher and coach who went into agricultural sales, marketing and operations and became the chief executive of two agri-business corporations, according to his legislative web page. He also founded and operated Real Estate Brokerage, specializing in land and small business acquisitions.
Holmes signed the original resolution to impeach Bentley, introduced last year.
Rep. Thad McClammy, D-Montgomery, 74, has served in the House for 22 years. He is a real estate broker and developer and national financial secretary for Tots & Teens, according to his legislative web page.
Rep. Phillip Pettus, R-Killen, was elected to the House in 2014. Pettus was an Alabama State Trooper for 25 years, retiring as a captain, according to his legislative web page.