11 April, 2017
Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley has resigned after pleading guilty to abusing his office, allegedly to hide an affair with a political adviser. Both charges are minor, but the decision to resign ended the state investigation and an impeachment push against him in the Alabama Legislature.
Before the report was released, Bentley stood on the steps of the state Capitol on Friday and declared he did "not plan to resign". He was charged with failing to file a major contribution report and converting campaign contributions to personal use, according to the Times.
Allegations of the affair with Rebekah Caldwell Mason, which consumed his administration for more than a year, broke up GOP Gov. Robert Bentley's marriage of 50 years in 2015.
The agreement also requires Bentley to repay the state almost $9,000 in misused funds, serve a year of probation, perform 100 hours of community service as a physician, and forfeit the more than $36,000 in his campaign fund.
Lt. Gov. Kay Ivey, the former state treasurer, will take Bentley's place. After her announcement in 2009, she ultimately chose to join the race for Lt. Governor and won, defeating Jim Folsom, Jr. who was seeking an unprecedented fourth term in the office. He can never run for office. "The Ivey administration will be open, transparent, and it will be honest".
Yasamie August made the statement Monday morning as the House Judiciary Committee was set to begin impeachment hearings.
The Alabama Republican Party on Sunday called for Bentley to step down.
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Now, she's the first female governor of the state since Lurleen Wallace in 1986, but under largely different circumstances. "He said Bentley 'encouraged an atmosphere of intimidation" to ensure the silence of his staff.
Earlier Monday, Montgomery County District Attorney Daryl Bailey sent a letter to Ellen Brooks, the special prosecutor appointed by Attorney General Steve Marshall to investigate Bentley, referring the ethics commission findings to the AG's office.
It accused Bentley of ordering law enforcement officers to track down recordings that suggested he had had an affair with Mason and accused him of retaliating against an official who discovered the relationship.
The committee on Monday started what was expected to be days of hearings. The governor's lawyers will respond to those accusations later in the week.
The impeachment report was one of a host of struggles the governor faced. Sharman says the governor's former wife turned over others.
The governor's then-wife, Dianne Bentley, was able to read the text messages because they also showed up on his state-issued iPad, which he had given the first lady. Bentley reportedly threatened to arrest people in possession of the secretly-recorded phone calls. The report authors also specified that they considered Bentley's attempts to obstruct the investigation by withholding messages as an "independent ground for impeachment".