Alabama's Governor Has Been Arrested And Resigned Over A Sex Scandal

Gov. Robert Bentley with Rebekah Mason on Nov. 4, 2014.

Brynn Anderson / AP

Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley was arrested Monday and resigned amid a long-running sex and campaign finance scandal.

Bentley, 74, was booked into the Montgomery County Jail on two misdemeanor charges related to the disclosure of campaign information. Moments later, he appeared in court and pleaded guilty to both charges, and shortly there after submitted his letter of resignation.

Bentley's booking photo

Montgomery County Jail

As a result of his guilty plea, Bentley was fined $2,000 and ordered to perform 100 hours of volunteer service, WBRC reported. He also agreed not to run for office again.

Ellen Brooks, of the Alabama Attorney General's office, said after the resignation that “the investigation into former Gov. Bentley is over.”

Bentley will be succeeded by Lt. Gov. Kay Ivey, who will become Alabama's second-ever female governor.

The scandal first ignited in March 2016, when Bentley fired Spencer Collier, then the head of the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency. After being fired, Collier said that he had seen evidence of, and investigated, an affair between the governor and his former political advisor and campaign spokesperson, Rebekah Mason.

Bentley denied having an affair with Mason, but by April 2016 Alabama lawmakers were considering impeachment charges against him.

The case culminated last week when an investigator looking into impeachment charges released a damning report detailing Bentley's alleged misdeeds. The report characterizes Bentley as paranoid and accuses him of directing “law enforcement to advance his persona interests” by, among other things, telling officers to break up with Mason for him.

The report also repeatedly blasts Bentley for not cooperating with investigators and for withholding information.

The report came two days after the Alabama Ethics Commission also condemned Bentley, saying it found probable cause that he violated both ethics and campaign laws. The commission accused Bentley of using public resources for personal gain, using campaign money to pay for Mason's legal fees, improperly receiving campaign money, and improperly loaning money to his campaign.

Brooks, of the AG's office, said Monday afternoon that Bentley spent about $9,000 of campaign money on Mason's legal fees.

Each of the charges was a potential felony that Bentley could have faced.

In response, Alabama Senate President Pro Tempore Del Marsh said Bentley was putting the state “under a cloud” and that he should consider resigning.

Despite the mounting pressure to step down, Bentley insisted Friday that he would not resign.

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

It was not immediately clear what caused him to change his mind, though his lawyers reportedly spent Monday negotiating over the case with prosecutors.

Lawmakers also began impeachment hearings just hours before Bentley was booked into jail and his expected resignation.

This is a developing story. Check back soon for updates.

Source: https://www.buzzfeed.com/usnews.xml

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