Questions remain over Strange's Senate appointment - WAFF-TV: News, Weather and Sports for Huntsville, AL

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Questions remain over Strange's Senate appointment

U.S. Sen. Luther Strange (Source: WAFF file) U.S. Sen. Luther Strange (Source: WAFF file)
(WAFF) -

Former Gov. Bentley's career is now over in Montgomery. But questions continue to surface about then-Attorney General Luther Strange accepting a Senate seat from the man he was supposed to be investigating.

Is it a case of more corruption or just a misunderstanding by some state lawmakers and voters? Well that depends on who you ask.

Strange told reporters on April 17, "Well, our office has been called corrupt by a lot of people. But the record speaks for itself. We have the very best public corruption unit in the United States of America.”

Strange is quick to defend his appointment to the U.S. Senate, a void he filled when longtime Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions joined the Trump cabinet as U.S. attorney general. And Strange continued to stress to our Birmingham sister-station last week that he did nothing wrong in accepting Bentley's appointment and never made a deal with Bentley so the former governor could avoid potential trouble for his wrongdoing.

READ MORE: Sen. Strange responds to criticism over his appointment

But Hartselle Rep. Ed Henry, a key lawmaker who spent more than a year calling for the former governor's ousting, sees it differently. Henry, who has just announced his bid for the Senate seat, recalls this conversation he had with Bentley several months ago.

"I tell him, 'Look, governor, you can appoint anybody, anybody other than Luther Strange and it will be received well. But If you appoint Luther Strange, it is going to reek of collusion and corruption,'" said Henry.

You won't believe what came next.

"The governor gets into this whole diatribe about how there's corruption in the state and there's corruption in the AG's office and he believes Luther Strange, Sen. Strange now, is corrupt and the only way to deal with him is to appoint him to the U.S. Senate and get him out of the state. At that point, it was  a complete shock," Henry said.

READ MORE: Rep. Ed Henry will run for U.S. Senate

So what was going on between Bentley and Strange? While in office, Strange never acknowledged his involvement with the impeachment investigation. WAFF 48 News found out the attorney general's office had been investigating the governor and even met with the House Judiciary Committee days before calling off their investigation.

So what happened in that meeting? We asked committee chairman Mike Jones.

"We weren't looking to stop or pause, we were ready to go. We were taking steps to proceed. We didn't know what would come of that meeting. We were preparing to start the meeting in early December of 2016," said Jones.

Jones said the two sides updated each other on their own investigations. But Jones said when the attorney general's office found out what the judiciary committee had, they wanted to stop.

"Once they heard that from us, the conversation turned quickly for us to have a need to pause," he said.

When the investigation finally picked back up in March, it took less than a month for special council to the committee, Jack Sharman, to release his scathing 130-page report that ended Bentley's political career.

Strange has refused our repeated requests for an in-depth interview for more than a week, and, at least for now, we're set up a sit-down interview with Strange via satellite from Washington to hear his side of the story.

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