By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter
Wednesday, March 23, audiotapes confirmed what most of us had suspected for months, that there was a highly inappropriate relationship between Alabama Governor Robert Bentley and his top aide and alleged, married mistress, Rebekah Caldwell Mason.
The Governor and Mrs. Mason continue to deny that their relationship ever crossed over into the physical. This clip from the tape would indicate that is yet another lie. “Baby, let me tell you what we’re going to have to start doing, we’re going to have to start locking the door. If we are going to do what we did the other day, we are going to have to start locking the door.” (Alabama Governor Robert Bentley). But even if it is somehow possible, however unlikely, that nothing actually happened, the people of Alabama are still shocked, disappointed, and embarrassed by their Governor’s increasingly bizarre behavior.
When asked by reporters if he would step down, Bentley refused. If Alabama had a recall provision, it is almost certain that someone would begin the effort for recalling the governor. State Representative Will Ainsworth (R-Guntersville) said, “I will be researching and introducing legislation dealing with recalling politicians in Alabama. This is an embarrassment to the entire State. Very disappointing.”
When Rep. Ainsworth was asked if Gov. Bentley would be grandfathered in from the recall bill, Ainsworth replied, “He will not be grandfathered in.”
Recall is a procedure by which voters can remove an elected official from office through a direct vote before their term has ended. Recall elections can be called when sufficient voters sign a petition. A number of states have recall provisions, but only two governors have ever been removed via recall, the most recent being Grey Davis (D) in California. Wisconsin Governor Scot Walker (R) survived a recall election. Recall likely would mean a constitutional amendment thus the earliest voters could be voting for the amendment (if it were introduced and passed in the remaining days of the session) would be November.
When asked by constituents if Gov. Bentley can be impeached, State Representative Mack Butler (R-Rainbow City) replied, “The answer is yes. With cause it only takes a simple majority of the House of Representatives. Then the Senate takes over as the court of impeachment.”
Chief Justice Roy Moore (R) would preside over the Senate as they weighed the evidence against Governor Bentley if the legislature allowed this to go that far
House Minority Leader Craig Ford (D-Gadsden) wrote, “When the Republicans took over the State government, they promised they were going to be the party of ethics; that they would lead us like Moses to the Promised Land. They made promises that they simply have not kept, and I hope the people of Alabama will remember that.”
Rep. Ford continued, “No one rejoices in the downfall of another person. Accusations have been made against the highest law enforcement officer in Alabama by the man who hired him, while the governor has been accused of using his office to cover up his infidelity – the same governor who said ‘if you’re not a Christian, you are not my brother.’ Democrats are not rejoicing today in what has happened. We believe everyone is our brother, and our focus will continue to be on representing the people who elected us.”
It is likely that State and/or federal prosecutors are looking closely at Governor Bentley’s conduct in office and in his campaign. A lot of money was placed with Mrs. Mason’s firm during the 2014 election. Was that appropriate given the illicit relationship that former ALEA head Spencer Collier claims was ongoing in 2014.
Who was behind the dark money source that paid Mrs. Mason to ‘advise’ Bentley in 2015 and what was their interest?
Were state employees fired at ALEA on the orders of Mrs. Mason as some suggest? Was there actual cause for top ALEA officials to be fired?
Why is Rebekah Mason trying to have Alabama Assistant Attorney General Matt Hart removed from the Mike Hubbard investigation?
What does acting ALEA Director Stan Stabler (formerly Bentley’s bodyguard) know about the illicit relationship and is that knowledge why he was appointed Alabama’s top cop?
Were crimes committed here and if so is the Governor possibly indictable? Could a Grand Jury be looking at these matters either now or in the near future?
If Bentley is indicted would he, like Speaker of the House Mike Hubbard (R-Auburn) continue to serve in office while under indictment?
Whether guilty of any provable crimes or not, can Gov. Bentley still lead the State of Alabama moving forward with this cloud of suspicion and distrust hanging over his lame duck administration?