State auditor files suit against Bentley over special election

State auditor files suit against Bentley over special election

MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - State Auditor Jim Zeigler has filed a bipartisan lawsuit against Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley for waiting until 2018 to hold the special election for Jeff Sessions' former U.S. Senate seat.

According to the suit filed Monday in Montgomery County Circuit court, Zeigler is asking for a declaratory judgment that Bentley's delaying of the election is illegal. He has also filed an injunction requiring the election to be reset as soon as possible.

Gov. Bentley's chief legal adviser David Byrne released this response in response to the lawsuit:

"The Governor set the election in the way state and federal law requires. Auditor Zeigler has filed this wasteful lawsuit without even proposing an election date he believes to be legal or feasible. He is urging the State to defy a federal-court order and to ignore other important requirements of the law. The Governor will vigorously defend this meritless suit."

See the full suit below:

Zeigler told the Associated Press on Wednesday that he would be filing the suit against the governor. Zeigler said Bentley's appointment of former state Attorney General Luther Strange to the U.S. Senate broke Alabama laws that require a special election for the seat.

The appointment came two months after Strange asked the Alabama House Judiciary Committee to pause an impeachment probe of Bentley, who was accused last year of having an affair with a onetime top political adviser.

"The whole thing stinks," Zeigler said. "We've got a Bentley appointed senator instead of a peoples' elected senator."

The governor's office said they believe they are correctly interpreting the law. The law states the governor of Alabama shall "forthwith" order an election, meaning immediately or without delay.

The special primary for the Senate seat is set for Tuesday, June 5, 2018. A special primary runoff will be held July 17, 2018 if needed.

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