By Bill Britt
Alabama Political Reporter
As part of his campaign pledge during the 2010 Gubernatorial race, candidate Dr. Robert Bentley vowed not to accept a salary until there was full employment in Alabama, which equates to 5.2 percent unemployment.
So, where did Bentley’s paycheck go?
It turns out that each year, his salary has been paying for “miscellaneous office expenses,” according to Bentley’s Communications Director, Yasamie August.
In an email exchange, August wrote, “The miscellaneous office expenses are just that, for an example, one month the funds could be used for office supplies, but the next month it be used for small projects taking place in any one of the offices that all make up the Office of the Governor.”
She also said, “The money that would have been spent on the Governor’s salary is available for other expenses within the office, and that information can be found on open.alabama.gov.” But there isn’t a breakdown of those expenses. When August was asked for further information, she sent a file listing overall budget expenses for the office, including salaries and benefits.
So, Bentley has never accepted a paycheck. While technically true, the fact that his office has used his State salary for purposes not itemized or accountable to oversight, it does raise questions about the funds.
August said Bentley would not receive “back pay” and that makes sense, given the money is already being spent somewhere within his office.
In the breakdown of office expenses provided by August, there is almost $2 million in the Miscellaneous category.
“To date, Governor Bentley has never accepted a salary as Governor. Given the reduction in unemployment Alabama has seen over the past four years, he is getting closer to receiving a paycheck,” according to Bentley’s official State website.
According to August, “The annual salary for the Governor is $120,935.80,” but there is no documentation of how it is being spent or who is directing it or benefiting from the paycheck Bentley vowed not to accept.