State Auditor launching formal ethics investigation into AL Gove - WAFF-TV: News, Weather and Sports for Huntsville, AL

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State Auditor launching formal ethics investigation into AL Governor

From Jim Ziegler release:

(MONTGOMERY) - State Auditor Jim Zeigler filed a mandatory report to The Alabama Ethics Commission today, initiating a formal legal investigation into The Governor’s misuse of state property, and the legality of Senior Political Advisor Rebekah Caldwell Mason’s status as either a public official or a lobbyist.

“The Governor continues to disgrace the state of Alabama, and in my official capacity as State Auditor, I am required to report these suspected violations, Zeigler said. “It is clear that he is misleading the people of the state about the nature of his relationship, but it is also clear that Ms. Mason is required to either be classified as a public official, or file as a lobbyist, in her capacity as an advisor who is paid by an outside source.”

In a report to Tom Albritton, Executive Director of The State Ethics Commission, Zeigler questions the matter in which Mason is paid, whether Governor Bentley and Mason are using state property in furtherance of their personal relationship, and if they have used their position to interfere with an Attorney General’s investigation.

The nature of Mason’s classification is made cleared by the attached ADVISORY OPINION NO. 2015-16 (PDF): “The Ethics Commission presumes that an employee who is paid from a source other than public money but who performs all of the functions of a public sector employee cannot serve under that arrangement without violating the fundamental principles underlying the Ethics Act.”

“The Governor needs to be truthful with the people of our state, about the nature and funding of Ms. Mason’s employment with his office,” Zeigler said. “This is not about his personal peccadillos, it is about the improper use of state funds and the right of the people to know who is paying the advisors to our public officials.”

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