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Last updated 12:25PM ET
March 6, 2021
Probe Shows No Wrongdoing by Alabama Judge
(APR - Alabama Public Radio ) - State and federal authorities have concluded that the father of U.S. Rep. Robert Aderholt, former Circuit Judge Bobby Aderholt, did nothing inappropriate by employing a court staffer who also worked for his private business.

The elder Aderholt said Wednesday he is pleased nothing has come of the highly publicized inquiry.

"I have been wanting to bring this to a close and have equal coverage," said Aderholt, whose son is a Republican from Haleyville. The former judge said he knows little about what has been going on because state court officials who prompted the investigations have not spoken to him.

Alabama Chief Justice Sue Bell Cobb removed Bobby Aderholt from his post as a special circuit judge in March 2007 over concerns about whether his state-paid judicial assistant was doing work for his private manufacturing business, Clark Wire, on state time.

Griffin Sikes Jr., director of the legal division of the state court system, said court officials gave information to state and federal authorities. They took no action against the elder Aderholt but didn't explain why, Sikes said.

"We have never had a satisfactory explanation made to us," Sikes said when contacted for comment.

Attorney General Troy King said court officials asked his office, the Alabama Bureau of Investigation, the Justice Department and the State Ethics Commission to look into the Aderholt questions last year.

King said he assigned one of his office's investigators to the case and the Alabama Bureau of Investigation was also involved. He said they all reached the same conclusion.

"We can't find any evidence of wrongdoing," he said in an interview Wednesday.

Jim Sumner, executive director of the State Ethics Commission, concurred. "We closed the matter after a thorough review," said Sumner.

U.S. Attorney Alice Martin of Birmingham said state court officials contacted the FBI, "which saw no federal violations."

Sikes said Cobb still has concerns, but he did not know where else court officials could turn to address them.

Aderholt and the attorney general are Republicans. Cobb is a Democrat. Sumner's post is nonpartisan.

Aderholt, 72, served 30 years as a judge in north Alabama, but he was forced into retirement in January 2007 by the state's retirement rules for judges.

Shortly before leaving office that same month, Alabama Chief Justice Drayton Nabers, a Republican, appointed Aderholt to serve as a special circuit judge in Winston and Marion counties for one year. The appointment carried no salary, but did provide some travel expenses.

Sikes said the state normally doesn't assign state-paid judicial assistants to special circuit judges. Under Nabers' watch, however, Bunia "Ronnie" Mobley, who had been the judge's assistant, was allowed to continue in the same post at $34,063 annually.

Cobb, who defeated Nabers, ended Aderholt's special appointment after learning that Mobley was listed as general manager of Aderholt's company and that the county circuit clerk did not recall having dealings with Mobley in her role as judicial assistant, Sikes said.

Aderholt said he did not have a judicial assistant until the last eight years of his judgeship. He said Mobley had worked at the wire company and helped with judicial chores at no cost to the state, so he hired her to be his judicial assistant. When she went on the state payroll in 1998, she also kept her company job.

"Because she had so much knowledge of the company, I kept her as an adviser and consultant for the business," he said. But he said she made sure both jobs got done by working long hours.

"The lady worked sometimes until 7 o'clock at night, even in the winter time, and a half day on Saturdays," he said.

He said Mobley did her judicial work at his private business because he had no office in the courthouse in Double Springs, and he maintained judicial offices at his business without charging rent to the court system.

King said his investigator reviewed time sheets and other records last year. "They showed that she provided the services the state paid for," he said.

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