On Monday, 10th of April, Alabama state governor, Robert Bentley, resigned after pleading guilty to two campaign misdeeds amidst accusations that he used public funds to pursue an affection with his former aide. He was also alleged to have intimidated officials in an attempt to cover up his deeds.
According to reports, public accusations of an affair between Bentley and former aide and senior political adviser Rebekah Caldwell Mason was a secret until March 2016.
Bentley, a Republican who faced various criticism from his own party, said at the state Capitol shortly after he was booked anf released from the Montgomery County Jail, “I have decided it is time for me to step down as Alabama’s governor,”
Shortly,former state treasurer, Lt. Gov. Kay Ivey, was sworn in as Alabama’s 54th governor, pledging that her administration “will be open, transparent, and it will be honest”.
As part of a plea deal, Bentley agreed to a 100 hours of community service and return his campaign fund $8,912 while also forfeiting the $36, 000 in the campaign account.
The state Attorney-General’s office will in turn not have any felonies charged against him.
Bentley, 74,had faced an impeachment move from his Republican legislators. He apologized to the citizens of the state.
“I’ve always believed the honour of serving as your governor was a calling that God placed on my life.
“Though I have committed myself to working to improve the lives of the people of our state, there have been times that I have let you and our people down, and I’m sorry for that”.
Speculation about the governor’s inappropriate behavior began in August 2015, when Bentley’s wife of 50 years, Dianne, abruptly filed for divorce, stating in court records that their marriage had suffered an “irretrievable breakdown”.
Speculations became real after Bentley fired the state’s top law enforcement official, Spencer Collier, alleging that an internal investigation at the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency uncovered possible wrongdoing.
Within hours, Collier opened up against the governor, accusing that he had seen and investigated sexual text messages and audio recordings between Bentley and Mason.
“When I stand behind you, and I put my arms around you, and I put my hands on your breasts and just pull you real close. I love that too,” Bentley said in one recorded audio.
“If we’re going to do what we did the other day, we’re going to have to start locking the door,” he was heard saying.
According to reports, Bentley made little effort to hide his affair with Mason while at one point, he unknowingly sent a text message saying, “I love you Rebekah”, to his then-wife, Dianne.
Dianne also secretly recorded her husband’s conversation with Mason, reports said.
Bentley, a state representative and dermatologist, was voted in as governor in 2010 and re-elected in 2014.