By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter
Just after 5:00 p.m. Monday, April 10, 2017, Montgomery’s culture of runaway corruption claimed another victim, as criminal excesses associated with an illicit liaison with married staffer, Mrs. Rebekah Caldwell Mason, led to Governor Robert Bentley (R) being forced to resign, rather than becoming the first Governor to be impeached in Alabama history.
Governor Bentley said, “I received the greatest honor of my life when the people of Alabama elected me Governor….I have not always made that right choices, and that even though I sometimes failed I have tried to live up the standards expected of me; but there have been times that I have left you and our people down.”
Bentley praised his staff and cabinet for their service effusively, but concluded that “I can no longer allow my family and my staff to suffer the consequences.”
The 74-year-old said, “I have spent the last year in deep and earnest prayer for our State and our people.” Bentley said that he was grateful for his loving and personal Savior. Bentley said that the Governor is the face of the State in Alabama in virtually all areas including the national stage. “The time has come for me to look for new ways to serve the people of our great State.”
Bentley grudgingly admitted, “It is time for me to step down.” I love the people of our state, I love this office but I realize that there are more important thing than holding political power.” Bentley promised a peaceful transition of power and that, “My Administration will work with Kay Ivey’s Administration to have a smooth transition.”
Bentley thanked God, “When He allowed me to be Governor of the State of Alabama.”
He thanked the sacrifices that his staff and cabinet have made to make Alabama a great state.
“I know that great things are ahead of us. Thank you and goodbye and I love the people of this State from the bottom of my heart.”
Lieutenant Governor Kay Ivey (R) now assumes the office of Governor for the remainder of Bentley’s term.
The fall of Bentley was put in motion when he moved the married Mrs. Mason into the pool house of the Governor’s mansion. That relationship blossomed to the point that eventually First Lady Dianne Bentley became suspicious of Bentley’s infidelity. In a desperate attempt to save the 49 year marriage, Mrs. Bentley, with the help of her Chief of Staff Heather Hannah, made a recording of two phone conversations between Bentley and Mrs. Mason, in which Gov. Bentley expressed his love for Mason and his enjoyment fondling her breasts.
Instead of taking his wife back and breaking off the relationship, Gov. Bentley became angry and ordered State Law Enforcement officers to get the tapes back. They were ultimately unsuccessful and the tapes eventually surfaced confirming reports from internet bloggers about the affair.
More troubling were reports that Bentley had used State aircraft, helicopters, and vehicles for his illicit relationship with Mason and that he may have harassed and intimidated Hannah and others.
In response to the resignation Alabama Senator Richard Shelby (R) said, “The American people’s trust in their government depends on the integrity and dignity of those in office, and it is clear that Alabamians have lost this in Governor Bentley. As Governor, Bentley was elected by the people of Alabama to the highest position of authority and should consequentially treat the office with the utmost respect. I believe he has made the right decision in offering his resignation.” Shelby said, “I look forward to working with Lieutenant Governor Kay Ivey in her new capacity as Governor of Alabama.”
State Auditor Jim Zeigler (R) filed a complaint with the Alabama Ethics Commission. Bentley’s 2014 primary opponent Stacy George added six more complaints. On Wednesday the Ethics Commission found that there was probable cause to recommend that the Montgomery County District Attorney pursue indictments against Bentley on four felony charges. State Representative Ed Henry (R from Hartselle) led the charge on the hill, filing articles of impeachment against Bentley. Those impeachments hearings recessed today when news leaked of Bentley’s impending resignation.