Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley Resigns Amidst Scandal

Alabama’s Republican Gov., Robert Bentley, 74, resigned from his office Monday after reaching an agreement with the legislature and the state’s attorneys office.

The Gov. faced impeachment after becoming enmeshed in an ethics probe into his actions concerning a relationship with a senior political aide. He was also accused of campaign finance violations.

Impeachment proceedings for Gov. Bentley were warming up in the state legislature over charges that he broke campaign finance laws after the State Ethics Commission found probable cause. The finding spurred the state’s first impeachment charges in its 197-year history.

But ahead of the proceedings, the Gov., first elected in 2010, made a deal with legislators to resign instead of facing impeachment. With his decision, the legislature decided to put a halt to its impeachment plans.

In a statement delivered upon his resignation, Bentley noted that he “can no longer allow my family and my dear friends … to be subjected to the consequences that my past actions have brought upon them,” Fox News reported

The resignation caps a year of turmoil after Bentley’s wife of 50 years discovered that he had engaged in a sexual relationship with Rebekah Mason, a senior political advisor.

Bentley compounded the situation by using the powers of his office to cover up the affair by threatening staffers to keep them quiet and using state law enforcement officials and vehicles to ferry his paramour around the state. He also reportedly threatened top law enforcement officials to keep a lid on the affair. Indeed, last year Bentley fired Spencer Collier, the head of the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency, over Collier’s refusal to join the coverup.

According to reports of Bentley’s agreement, he will reimburse the state for misused funds and perform an undetermined amount of community service in exchange for a guilty plea to a pair of misdemeanor charges. He will also agree not to run for or hold political office again. The deal also includes a 30-day suspended jail sentence and a year of probation.

Bentley’s resignation paves the way for Lt. Gov. Kay Ivey, 72, to become only the second female governor of the Yellow Hammer State. Ivey was sworn in as the state’s 54th governor on Monday.

This is not the first time a high-ranking state official wound up on the wrong side of the law. Just last year the state’s Speaker of the House, Republican Mike Hubbard, was sentenced to a four-year prison sentence for his own ethics violations.

Bentley is the third Alabama governor in 30 years to leave office under a cloud. Gov. Gary Hunt (R) was convicted of corruption in 1992, and Gov. Don Siegelman (D) was convicted of mail fraud and other corruption charges in 2006.

Follow Warner Todd Huston on Twitter @warnerthuston or email the author at igcolonel@hotmail.com


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