Auditor Jim Ziegler speaks to Shelby County Republicans

Published 10:13 am Thursday, November 15, 2018

By MICHAEL BROOKS / Special to the Reporter

PELHAM – Alabama State Auditor Jim Ziegler hinted on Nov. 13 that he might be interested in the U.S. Senate seat now held by Sen. Doug Jones during a meeting with the Shelby County Republican Executive Committee at the Shelby County Services Building in Pelham.

Ziegler was elected last week to a second term as Auditor and said he is term-limited.

“I’ve set up an exploratory committee,” he said. “Of course, I’ll have to wait and see what former Attorney General Jeff Sessions plans to do.”

In her introduction, Chairman Joan Reynolds noted that that Ziegler came from a political family. His father was a small-town mayor near Sylacauga, where the family lived. Ziegler earned a degree in public administration from the University of Alabama where he was elected  Student Body President.

Ziegler said though his audience was no doubt tired of politics after the most recent election cycle, it was now time to kick-off the 2020 election cycle.

“We need to take back the Senate seat Jones won last year,” he said. “We saw what I  call ‘incennuendo’—a combination of invective and innuendo—and a lot of  Washington liberal money sent to Alabama for that election. We can do better than this.”

Ziegler said he was grateful the people of Alabama had “extended his work contract,” and he intended to be a public servant not just at election time but 365 days each year.

“The traditional role of the Auditor is to inventory the property belonging to the people of Alabama,” he said. “We have $1.1 billion worth of tax-payer items in 176 state agencies, and we audit every agency every two years. The most common items that seem to disappear are laptop computers and state-owned weapons. We must be accountable for every item.”

Ziegler said the last two budgets under the Bentley administration cut his agency 28 ½ percent, and he downsized from 11 auditors to five and one-half.

“We’ve used student interns to help with auditing, and this has been a good practice,” he said.

Ziegler said he volunteered to conduct audits, too, and found an expensive printer missing from the office of the Speaker of the House.

“If anything is missing, we fill out a report for the state Attorney General,” he said. “I’m glad the printer was found. It went missing under a previous speakership.”

Ziegler said he assumed a second role since elected Auditor.

“I became a watchman for how state money is spent,” he said. “This is not my elected role, but I fulfill it as a citizen of the state. Any citizen can file a lawsuit alleging illegal handling of taxpayer money. Our state motto is, ‘We dare defend our rights,’ and we must make government accountable to the people.”