By Rep. Darrio Melton
As news of Governor Bentley’s inappropriate relationship with a senior advisor rocked Montgomery last week, it seemed that the major issues in this story took a back seat to gossip about recordings and scandals.
This entire story hinges around one major point: the governor has not been honest with the people of Alabama.
As I said last week, the Governor’s personal dealings are his personal business. The way he chooses to spend his personal time is between him, his family, and his God. But the way he chooses to carry out the duties of his office, that’s between him and the people of this state.
Over the past week, we’ve heard some serious allegations thrown around on Goat Hill: did the Governor use his office or public money improperly? Did he ask former ALEA Secretary Spencer Collier to lie about the status of an investigation? Is Bentley’s Senior Advisor breaking any ethics laws through her work in the Governor’s office?
In each of these instances, we clearly have two (or more) sides of the story, and they aren’t adding up. Which is leading the public and the pundits to wonder: who do we trust?
With inconsistent stories, there is no question that someone is lying–and the people shouldn’t have to wonder if their Chief Executive is telling them the whole, true story.
As our Governor, Bentley is the one public servant that Alabamians look towards for a clear explanation of tough questions and strong leadership during difficult times. It’s no secret that Alabama is facing plenty of troubles–a budget crisis, Medicaid collapse, overcrowded prisons, sub-par education, and the list goes on. Without a Governor who we can trust–and without a government we can trust–we can’t even begin to address the growing list of problems facing our state, which now includes deep, systemic corruption.
As much as the media has sensationalized the rumors and evidence of an improper relationship, this isn’t about the Governor’s relationship with his adviser at all: it’s about his relationship with the people of Alabama who thought they could count on his leadership.
Rep. Darrio Melton is a Democrat from Selma. He was elected to the Alabama House of Representatives in 2010 and currently serves as Chair of the House Democratic Caucus.