Taxpayers will pay a total of almost $600,000 in legal fees to two private law firms on opposite sides of the impeachment investigation of former Gov. Robert Bentley.
Last year, the House Judiciary Committee hired Jack Sharman of the Birmingham firm Lightfoot, Franklin & White to conduct the impeachment investigation. The Alabama Legislature plans to pay the firm a total of $457,889.
Sharman said he and his firm interviewed more than 20 witnesses and reviewed thousands of pages of documents before releasing his report on April 7. It concluded that Bentley abused his power to try to hide evidence of an alleged affair with his former political adviser, Rebekah Mason.
Bentley resigned from office three days after the report was released. The Judiciary Committee had started impeachment hearings on the morning of Bentley’s resignation, which also came five days after the Ethics Commission found probable cause that Bentley violated the ethics law and campaign finance law.
The Legislature initially paid Sharman’s firm $33,915 under an emergency contract. The Judiciary Committee set a $350,000 cap on legal fees after that. But Sharman’s firm has billed for an additional $73,974 above the cap, House of Representatives spokesman Clay Redden said.
Redden said that request would be heard by the Alabama Board of Adjustment, a four-member board set up to hear certain claims against the state.
Redden said the House would not contest the billing.
The governor’s office hired Connecticut attorney Ross Garber of the firm Shipman & Goodwin, for the impeachment investigation. The governor’s office has paid Garber’s firm $137,182, according to the state Finance Department.
The Decatur Daily reported on the legal fees.