- Associated Press - Tuesday, July 7, 2015

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) - Gov. Robert Bentley’s spokeswoman said Tuesday that state auditor Jim Zeigler owes the governor an apology after making what she calls false statements about Confederate items being removed from the Capitol gift shop.

Customers Tuesday could buy Confederate memorabilia along with civil rights history books and moonshine barbecue sauce. There were Confederate flag playing cards, Confederate flag patches and fake Confederate currency. There was even a Confederate cookbook with a recipe for Robert E. Lee cake. And, of course, there were miniature Confederate flags for $2.75 each.

Zeigler has issued multiple press releases saying items have been removed from the Goat Hill Museum Store on the first floor of the state Capitol. However, Bentley spokeswoman Jennifer Ardis said the governor has not ordered any items removed and the auditor’s inventory check was “wrong” and “inaccurate.”

The store, Ardis said, is managed by the Alabama Historical Commission.

“If the auditor thought that the governor did that, if there was any question, he should have either picked up the phone, or he could have walked down the hall,” Ardis said. “Both offices are on the same floor. He could have walked down to the governor’s office and asked. But instead he chose to issue a press release that had wrong information in it.”

Last month Bentley ordered the removal of four Confederate flags from an 88-foot Confederate monument next to the Capitol, prompting praise from many while drawing some criticism from Confederate flag supporters. In an interview last week with The Associated Press, the governor said he removed the flags to avoid any controversy surrounding the national debate about whether Confederate flags should be flown on state government grounds.

Bentley said removing the flags was the right thing to do and he has no plans to remove other Confederate monuments in and around Alabama’s Capitol.

In an interview Tuesday, Zeigler said his assistant confirmed the items were missing last week but said a “handful”- such as the playing cards - had been returned.

“The governor is just doing these things and letting the public and the media find out later,” he said. “There’s no opportunity for input. He’s just handing it to the public as a done deal. That’s not good.”

Zeigler said he delivered a letter to Bentley’s office Thursday. Zeigler provided a copy of the letter to the media. In the letter, Zeigler asked the governor to order the items back to the store.

“Your office has just contacted me saying you did not actually do this,” the letter stated. “The Confederate history items are definitely missing from the museum store.”

Calls to Lisa Jones, the Alabama Historical Commission’s acting executive director, were not immediately returned Tuesday.

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