MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WIAT) — Former Marshall County District Attorney Steve Marshall was sworn in Monday as the 48th Alabama Attorney General. He was appointed by the governor to take over the office after the governor appointed Luther Strange to the U.S. Senate last week.
Marshall spoke to reporters about many topics following the ceremony, including the issues of gambling and illegal immigration.
The state has had a history of conflicting viewpoints on gaming in Alabama, and Governor Robert Bentley said vast time and resources have been spent debating current laws and developing new ones related to games of chance. That’s one reason he gave for the formation of an advisory committee on gaming.
When asked about his perspective on the topic as the new chief law enforcement officer of the state, Marshall said he plans to discuss this week with his staff in the attorney general’s office what exactly they can do.
“Ultimately the attorney general is responsible for enforcing the law, not necessarily making the policy. One of the things that I would do is make sure that we had consultation with the prosecutors that are on the ground, the law enforcement that’s there about whether or not they’ve made an assessment of what may be going on in those communities that is otherwise illegal. But ultimately, it’s an independent assessment for us. And if in fact we’re authorized to act, then I think we have to act,” said Marshall.
Marshall referred to the December ruling by the Alabama Supreme Court that said the state can keep more than 800 electronic bingo machines seized from Greentrack. He said the supreme court has been clear about what is and is not bingo, and his duty is to enforce the law regardless of whether or not he agrees with it.
Concerning immigration, Marshall said, “Those who come into this country illegally and commit crimes and are convicted, that they are not welcome here … We will also ensure that sanctuaries are places of worship, not where the rule of law is avoided.”
He also fielded many questions Monday about his appointment by the governor.
“Y’all, I’m not completely naive to the circumstances of this appointment,” said Marshall.
He said he heard the comments Luther Strange made on the issue.
“I want to make this clear because I think there’s been some misconception: we have never said at our office that we are investigating the governor,” said Strange Thursday.
Marshall confirmed he has not seen any evidence that the attorney general’s office is conducting an investigation.
“Nowhere have I seen confirmation that Governor Bentley is under investigation, but tomorrow morning I will meet with a unit that can tell me if in fact there is,” said Marshall.
Marshall said if he discovers there is an investigation, he will recuse himself.
A separate investigation into the governor being conducted by the House Judiciary Committee was put on hold in November at the request of the Alabama Attorney General’s Office. Chairman of that committee, Mike Jones, said he would be asking for an update from the new attorney general.
“I think it’ll be entirely a conversation about timing and to have some expectations if we can go with that. And that’s what I tell my members is that I can assure them that we’re going to finish this process, I just can’t tell them exactly when that’ll occur. So, I wish I could, but right now it’s just a little premature to say anything,” said Jones Thursday.
Marshall said Monday he will work with Jones and the Judiciary Committee to determine the path forward.
“I think this office maintains the emphasis in the area of public corruption. We need to make sure that the people of this state understand that if you’re a public employee or you’re a public official, that we will enforce the ethics laws and we’ll do that clearly across the board,” said Marshall.