For the fourth time, Jim Bennett took the oath of office today as Alabama’s secretary of state. Bennett, 73, was sworn in just after 5 p.m. by Gov. Robert Bentley to replace Beth Chapman, who resigned to take a job with the Alabama Farmers Federation. Bennett won’t be a candidate for the office next year. Bentley said at the time he appointed Bennett that he did not want to appoint anybody who planned to run for the office. Bennett was appointed secretary of state in 1993 and was elected to the position in 1994 and 1998. His election in 1998 marked the first time for a Republican to hold the office since Reconstruction. Bentley praised Chapman’s work and said he expected a smooth transition.
Bennett said the new online, searchable system for candidates to file campaign finance reports was an important step forward. The secretary of state’s office began posting campaign finance reports online during his previous term in office, he said. The new system, under which candidates for the Legislature and statewide office are required to file electronically, went online this year.
Bennett sponsored campaign finance disclosure legislation as a state senator in the 1980s. Before that became law, Bennett said candidates did not have to report their campaign finances until after an election.