State Auditor Jim Zeigler considers possible run for Governor

(WTVY News 4)
Published: Jun. 20, 2017 at 4:07 PM CDT
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State Auditor Jim Zeigler has begun an exploratory campaign to assess a possible run for governor in 2018.

Zeigler (R) launched a Facebook page last week titled, “Jim Zeigler Exploratory Campaign for Governor.” The page now has 7,506 likes and 7,191 followers.

He says he would run to stop “wasteful spending, mismanagement and corruption in state government.”

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

Zeigler filed an ethics complaint against then-Governor Robert Bentley in 2016. The commission found probable cause that Bentley had committed felony violations of the law. Five days later, Bentley resigned.

After Bentley delayed a special election for a U.S. Senate vacancy to November 2018, Zeigler filed suit to force a special election “forthwith,” saying that it is required by Alabama law. Bentley refused to change the late election setting, but new Gov. Kay Ivey did, setting an August 15 primary.

Zeigler sued to invalidate the troubled STAARS software contract, claiming it was an illegal no-bid contract. A Montgomery judge has ruled that Zeigler has standing and can take the case to trial, which is expected to be set this Fall.

Zeigler had been a consistent critic of Gov. Bentley, mounting challenges to what he called “mismanagement and abuse by the Bentley administration.”

On the very day Zeigler was inaugurated as state auditor, and Bentley was inaugurated to a second term, the challenges began. Bentley had canceled the inaugural prayer service, saying there was not enough time to have it. Zeigler announced he would sponsor the prayer service and did so at the River City Church on Dexter Avenue.

Zeigler exposed Bentley’s diversion of $1.8 million of BP settlement money to restore the governor’s mansion at the beach. That action came a month after Bentley lost his own personal beach home in his divorce from his wife of 50 years.

Zeigler’s office is current on all audits despite suffering cuts of 28.5% to his budget. He has started a program to began conducting field audits himself since his staff has been cut from eleven employees to five full-time and one part-time.

“Under adverse circumstances, I have continued to get things done for the taxpayers of Alabama. Just envision what I might be able to do with adequate staff and the authority of the governor’s office. It scares the Montgomery Insiders, but thrills the taxpaying public.”

The first-term state auditor says he will make his decision after the special election for U.S. Senator. He says he will be on the 2018 ballot either for governor or for re-election as state auditor.

“Alabama voters and news media are starting to focus on the U.S. Senate special election. It would be folly to make a decision and announce for the 2018 election during the 2017 election,” he said in a news release Tuesday.

Zeigler says his official status is “potential candidate for governor.” He was elected State Auditor in 2014 and took office in January 2015. He is eligible to run for a second term as auditor.

In 2016, Zeigler’s wife Jackie won election to the State Board of Education from the seven counties of southwest Alabama’s first district. She challenged a Bentley-appointed incumbent who raised over $200,000 in campaign donations. Mrs. Zeigler raised only $20,000 but won the Republican runoff 62% to 38%.

The couple have two children. James “Win” Zeigler has just completed the drone pilot certification course at the University of South Alabama. Mary Magdalene “Maggie” Zeigler just graduated from Mobile’s Baker High School and enters the University of Alabama in August.