Report: Alabama governor abused power to cover up affair; impeachment hearings start Monday

UPDATE — 6:12 p.m. EDT: According to an AP source, Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley will resign from office later on Monday for covering up his affair with a former staffer by using state officials to do his bidding.

Republican Lt. Gov. Kay Ivey will assume office as Alabama’s 54th governor.

Bentley was booked into county jail on two misdemeanor counts related to campaign finance violations, after pleading guilty to both. As part of the agreement with prosecutors, Bentley will serve two years probation and can never hold public office again in the state of Alabama.

 

Alabama Governor Robert Bentley is being threatened with impeachment after a new official report detailed his potential misuse of state resources in an attempt to cover up an extramarital affair with a political adviser.

Bentley, a Republican, is accused of coercing law enforcement officials as well as staffers into keeping his affair with Rebekah Caldwell Mason secret from the public.

“Governor Bentley directed law enforcement to advance his personal interests and, in a process characterized by increasing obsession and paranoia, subjected career law enforcement officers to tasks intended to protect his reputation,” the report read.

The 130-page exposé was prepared by Jack Sharman, a lawyer hired by the Alabama state House Judiciary Committee to investigate Bentley.

In addition to any misuse of state money, Sharman’s investigation also uncovered lurid details of the affair that have been dominating headlines across Alabama as well as the country. According to Sharman, Bentley even asked a state employee to end his relationship with Mason.

“Gov. Bentley once sent his security officer Ray Lewis to break up with Mason. The governor then walked in the room, put his hand on Mason’s shoulder and told her it would “be alright,'” the report continued.

Bentley is claiming that he and Mason never had a physical relationship, and also denies any rules were broken.

“I have done nothing illegal,” Bentley said at a press conference on Friday. “If the people want to know if I misused state resources, the answer is simply no, I have not.”

The affair came to light in 2015 after the governor’s wife of 50 years filed for divorce. If Bentley is impeached, he will be the first Alabama governor ever forced out of office by the state’s legislature.

Impeachment hearings will begin Monday in Montgomery after the Alabama Supreme Court on Saturday reversed a lower court injunction against official proceedings to remove Bentley.  The governor’s lawyers argue they have not been given a witness list and their client will not be afforded an opportunity to respond to the allegations under oath.

 

[CNN] [AL.com] [Lightfoot Law] [New York Times] [Photo courtesy Brynn Anderson/AP via NPR]