Auditor Jim Zeigler confirms exploration of gubernatorial bid

Auditor Jim Zeigler confirms exploration of gubernatorial bid

MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - Outspoken Alabama state Auditor Jim Zeigler is eyeing a possible office move at the state Capitol, one with considerably more power, not to mention armed Alabama State Troopers at the door.

Zeigler, in his first term as auditor, announced Tuesday the formation of an "exploratory campaign" to gauge a possible gubernatorial run in 2018. If he joins, he'll find himself in a growing field of potential Republican and Democratic candidates looking to take Kay Ivey's job. She has yet to announce if she'll seek the office for a full term.

"I have already done more to change Montgomery than any of the other potential candidates, even from my position as state auditor," Zeigler stated. "From the governor's office, I would stand up for the taxpayers and stop business as usual in Montgomery."

Zeigler, a Republican, has ruffled feathers with some in his own party, particularly former Gov. Robert Bentley.

The auditor fought Bentley's efforts to use $1.8 million in BP oil spill settlement money on repairs of a governor's mansion on the beach. He filed an ethics complaint against Bentley in 2016 which ultimately found probable cause that the governor committed a felony. Bentley resigned less than a week after the report was released.

He also sued to force a special election after Bentley's appointment of then-Attorney General Luther Strange to the U.S. Senate.

The auditor still has a pending suit against the state's troubled STAARS software contract, which he says was illegal and awarded without a bid process.

Zeigler says he'll make a decision after the Senate special election in December as to whether he'll run for governor or for a second term as auditor.

Copyright 2017 WSFA 12 News. All rights reserved.