Governor Robert Bentley resigned on Monday after pleading guilty to two campaign misdemeanors amid allegations that he misused public resources to pursue an affair with a former aide. He was also accused of intimidating officials in an attempt to cover it up.
Public allegations of an affair between Bentley and former senior political adviser Rebekah Caldwell Mason did not break out until March 2016, according to reports. Bentley was booked into the Montgomery County Jail and released later.
As part of a plea deal, Bentley agreed to perform 100 hours of community service and repay his campaign fund $8,912. He also forfeited the $36, 000 in the campaign account. In turn, the state Attorney-General’s office will not pursue felonies against him.
He apologized to the citizens of the state. Speculation about the governor’s inappropriate behavior began in August 2015, when Bentley’s wife of 50 years, Dianne, abruptly filed for divorce, stating in court records that their marriage had suffered an “irretrievable breakdown”.
Speculations became rife after Bentley fired the state’s top law enforcement official, Spencer Collier, saying that an internal investigation at the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency uncovered possible wrongdoing.
Within hours, Collier spoke out against the governor, alleging that he had seen and investigated sexual text messages and audio recordings between Bentley and Mason.
“When I stand behind you, and I put my arms around you, and I put my hands on your breasts and just pull you real close. I love that too,” Bentley said in one audio recording.
“If we’re going to do what we did the other day, we’re going to have to start locking the door,” he was also heard saying. At one point, he mistakenly sent a text message saying, “I love you Rebekah”, to his then-wife, Dianne.
Dianne also secretly recorded her husband speaking to Mason, reports said. Bentley, a state representative and dermatologist, was elected governor in 2010 and re-elected in 2014.