Jones: Impeachment hearings suspended at AG’s request

Published 3:35 pm Thursday, November 3, 2016

The chairman of the House Judiciary Committee said today that he’s suspending hearings into the Articles of Impeachment filed against Gov. Robert Bentley at the request of Attorney General Luther Strange who is conducting a separate investigation of the governor.

mike-jones-copy“As I said at the first meeting on the Articles of Impeachment, this committee would work cooperatively with other investigating agencies and today’s action testifies to that,” said Rep. Mike Jones, R-Andalusia. “We are temporarily suspending activity at the attorney general’s request but we are not abdicating our responsibility. Everything the committee has done remains in effect.”

The Judiciary Committee began hearings on June 15 on a resolution signed by 23 House members charging the governor with corruption and neglect of duty.

In a letter to Jones, Strange said it would be “prudent and beneficial” if the Judiciary Committee suspended its investigation, including active interviews, until the attorney general’s staff completes its probe.

At the committee’s request, House Clerk Jeff Woodard issued subpoenas on September 29 to the governor and seven other persons or entities for documents related to the Judiciary Committee’s investigation and on October 25, the committee sent a formal demand to the governor for his testimony under oath as part of the investigation.

Jones said compliance with the committee’s requests to this point has been “minimal at best.”
Despite the lack of cooperation, he said the investigation has moved forward and the committee was days away from setting hearings on the matter to take testimony and evidence.

Speaker of the House of Representatives Mac McCutcheon, R-Monrovia, has been keeping in close contact with Jones during the impeachment investigation and says he supports the decision to suspend the committee hearings.

“While I have complete confidence in the Judiciary Committee and its special counsel, I believe that moving forward with the impeachment hearings while there is an active criminal investigation would put a number of parties in a difficult position,” said McCutcheon. “I support pausing the committee investigation and allowing the criminal proceedings to run their course.”
Special Counsel Jack Sharman who is the Judiciary Committee’s investigator also agreed with suspending the hearings and offered his support to the attorney general.
“It’s an honor to serve the committee, its members, the House, and the people of Alabama,” said Sharman. “I look forward to coordinating with the attorney general as necessary and appropriate.”

Once the attorney general’s investigation is complete and Sharman has concluded gathering and assembling any further evidence, Jones said the committee will hold public hearings on those findings.