Alabama Governor Robert Bentley resigned yesterday after a year-long scandal that derailed his second term.
Bentley and his wife of 50 years divorced last year and then details of his affair with his Senior Political Advisor, Rebekah Mason, started to emerge. Bentley’s efforts to cover up the relationship led to allegations that he misused campaign contributions and state resources.
Bentley, who stated his innocence as recently as last Friday, stepped down after the Alabama Ethics Commission released a report last week saying that it had probable cause to find that Bentley had committed two felonies. Then, a lawyer for the Alabama House of Representatives released a 131 page report detailing both the affair, the cover-up, and Bentley’s alleged crimes. The case was handed over to a District Attorney, and Bentley resigned as part of a deal in which he plead guilty to the misdemeanor charges of failing to file a contribution report and converting campaign funds for personal use.
Bentley, a 74-year-old retired dermatologist, was first elected in 2010 on a promise to not take a salary and reelected in 2014, amassing the largest percentage of the vote that a Republican candidate for Governor has ever won in Alabama.
Bentley previously served as a deacon at his home church in Tuscaloosa and stirred controversy at a prayer gathering for comments he made the weekend of his inauguration. He addressed the crowd gathered at Dexter Avenue Baptist Church, which sits on the same street as the state capitol building and was formerly pastored by Dr. Martin Luther King.
"There may be some people here today who do not have living within them the Holy Spirit,” he said. “But, if you have been adopted in God's family like I have, and like you have if you're a Christian and if you're saved, and the Holy Spirit lives within you just like the Holy Spirit lives within me, then you know what that makes? It makes you and me brothers. And it makes you and me brother and sister. Now I will have to say that, if we don't have the same daddy, we're not brothers and sisters. So anybody here today who has not accepted Jesus Christ as their savior, I'm telling you, you're not my brother and you're not my sister, and I want to be your brother."
He also appealed to his faith as he defended himself late last week and announced his intention to remain in office. “If the people want to know if I misused state resources state resources, the answer is simply ‘no, I have not.’ With the strength that God gives me every day and the blessed assurance that I have in my salvation through Jesus Christ, I have worked hard to move beyond any of my past mistakes.” He went on to say that he was thankful that he serves a “loving and forgiving God.”
Photo courtesy: Wikimedia Commons
Publication date: April 11, 2017