MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley resigned and pleaded guilty on the first day of a legislative hearing that could have led to his impeachment over allegations linked to his alleged affair with a longtime aide.
Booked at the county jail Monday, Bentley appeared first in court during a hearing and then at the Alabama Capitol to resign just three days after he said he wouldn’t quit.
Bentley’s resignation shelved a legislative report that accused him of stonewalling investigators in a bid to hide details of his relationship with former aide Rebekah Caldwell Mason.
Here’s a look at the key details:
Bentley’s aw-shucks image was shattered in 2016 when the fired director of the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency publicly accused the dermatologist and one-time Baptist deacon of carrying on an affair with Mason. It was a stunning turn for a two-term state representative who unexpectedly won the governorship in 2010 after promising not to take a salary until Alabama reached full employment. He never took a paycheck as governor.
Bentley’s wife of 50 years, Dianne Bentley, filed for divorce in 2015, months before the allegations of an affair became public. She also provided investigators with audio recordings plus text messages and other evidence that raised questions about the governor’s actions and truthfulness.
The Republican has since struggled to win support in the GOP-controlled Legislature, and Republican leaders called for his resignation.
Bentley, 74, steadfastly denied breaking any laws or having a sexual relationship with Mason, and he publicly questioned why people want to embarrass him and his family. He repeatedly said he wouldn’t quit, claiming there was no reason.
All that fell away in court, where Bentley looked sullen as he pleaded guilty to misdemeanor campaign violations uncovered during his relationship with Mason, 45.
Bentley was replaced by Lt. Gov. Kay Ivey, also a Republican, and the House Judiciary Committee adjourned the impeachment hearing after his resignation. The Legislature remains in session; the normal work of state government will continue.
The former governor must perform 100 hours of community service as a physician, and he will spend a year on probation. Bentley also must surrender campaign funds totaling nearly $37,000 within a week.
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