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Ethics panel likely to review Senate fight under ethics review

By M.J. Ellington
mjellington@decaturdaily.com (334) 262-1104

MONTGOMERY — The Senate Ethics Committee will likely meet next week to review complaints from a widely publicized Senate chamber altercation between Sen. Charles Bishop and Sen. Lowell Barron.

Proposed dates include Thursday, June 21 and Friday, June 22.

After a session marked by friction and disagreements, Bishop, R-Jasper, punched Barron, D-Fyffe, on the afternoon of June 7, the last day of the session.

Bishop's fist struck Barron along his jaw line and sent the former Senate president pro tem sprawling backward over a desk. Other senators pulled the two apart.

The blow, captured on video by Alabama Public Television, went to Web sites and
news organizations around the world.

Ethics Committee members include Sens. Scott Beeson, R-Gardendale; Kim Benefield, D-Woodland; Zeb Little, D-Cullman; Jim Preuitt, D-Talladega and Bobby Singleton, D-Greensboro.

Thursday, Barron, 65, said he does not plan to file charges against Bishop, 69. Barron said the Senate already has a black eye from the incident.

Bishop apologized to his colleagues for the blow struck in the Senate chamber. He did not apologize to Barron, whom he said bullies other senators.

The committee could vote to censure or bar Bishop from the Senate but does not have to take action against him.

Lt. Gov. Jim Folsom said physical attacks cannot be tolerated.

"This act must be dealt with so that our children will know that there is absolutely no excuse for hitting someone when you are in a verbal argument," Folsom said in a statement.

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