By Bill Britt
Alabama Political Reporter
MONTGOMERY—Official Flight logs and social media postings by the Governor and the First Lady Dianne Bentley, from January to August, show the First Couple taking trips together and exchanging sweet words and warm kindnesses with each other.
Beginning around the New Year, rumors about troubles in the Bentley’s marriage began to spread in political circles. By Spring, they were a mainstay of the political rumor mill. Only with the announcement of Mrs. Bentley’s divorce filing at the end of August did the chattering class find so-called evidence to bolster their speculation. However, since the initial press coverage on the divorce filing on August 28 and forward, no facts have been uncovered to support the rumors of an extra-marital liaison by the Governor or the impending separation.
On the morning Gov. Bentley was served divorce papers, he and Mrs. Bentley shared the stage at College Colors Day at the Capitol both smiling and seemingly happy together. Two days earlier, they were in Tuscaloosa at a new school opening. Mrs. Bentley, an intelligent and poised woman of considerable personal stature, never gave a hint that there was trouble at home. Likewise, the Governor never showed signs of marital distress.
On April 1, Mrs. Bentley posted on Facebook, “Before Robert was elected Governor, I was a full-time mom and Bible study teacher in Tuscaloosa for 35 years. Never in my wildest dreams would I be First Lady of Alabama and the keynote speaker at a She.E.O. event. You’ve inspired me change my title to C.E.O. of the Governor’s Mansion!” #firstladytravels #DBversusDV
On April 2, Gov. Bentley posted to his Facebook account saying, “Excited to announce our first grandson, Hayden Douglas Bentley, was born on March 27, 2015, at 8 pounds, 10 oz., and 21 inches long! Our seven granddaughters are delighted to have a little boy in the family!”
From January until August 26, the Bentleys flew on the executive jet together 21 times.
On July 23, 2015, the Governor and First Lady attended the National Governor’s Association Summer Conference in West Virginia, where they celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary on July 24 at the legendary Greenbrier, a Forbes four-star and AAA Five Diamond Award winning luxury resort located just outside of White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia.
In a July 24 Twitter post, the First Lady wrote, “God has blessed us w/ 50 years of marriage. I thank him for health, family, faith, and most of all His love and grace.”
On their anniversary, Gov. Bentley’s Facebook post read, “Today Dianne and I are celebrating another wonderful year of marriage and hoping for many more. Happy Anniversary Dianne!”
Gov. Bentley’s communications director, Jennifer Artis confirmed that the First Couple celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary with dinner at the Greenbrier.
Two February Twitter posts by the First Lady reads, “Celebrating Papa’s birthday a little early with our granddaughters,” and “Here’s to another birthday by your side! Happy Birthday to my husband and our Governor.”
On July 16, Gov. Bentley took to Facebook to publicly wish his wife happy birthday saying, “Happy Birthday to my best friend & love of my life and Alabama’s best First Lady. I love you First Lady Dianne Bentley.”
There are no records of the First Couple taking any flights together in January, and while social media posts are warm and friendly during that period, staffers close to the couple say that Mrs. Bentley did leave the Governor Mansion for a brief period in January only to return to her husband’s side a little later.
The Governor and First Lady have both shown great dignity while under the fire of the State’s scandalmongers. However, their silence has left a void of information which continues to be filled by rumor and innuendo.
The Governor and First Lady were unavailable for comment. Their twitter and Facebook records for this story as well as the Flight logs can be viewed below: