Ethics panel finds probable cause gov broke law

After an all-day meeting, the Alabama Ethics Commission found probable cause that Gov. Robert Bentley violated ethics laws.

The state ethic's commission is also expected to release a report during a meeting on Wednesday. Bentley past year apologized in a press conference after recordings surfaced of him making sexually charged remarks to a female aide before his divorce.

Bentley, who was accused a year ago of maintaining an extramarital affair with Mason, and using State funds to do so, has denied any legal wrongdoing and has said that his affair with Mason wasn't physical.

State Auditor Jim Zeigler filed an ethics complaint against the Republican governor and accused him of misusing state resources for a relationship with the aide.

Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley exits out of the back of the RSA Union Building in Montgomery, Ala., Wednesday, April 5, 2017. Bentley is nearing a political and legal crossroads, a year after his relationship with Mason, a former aide who broke up his marriage and tarnished his image.

The House Judiciary Committee is tasked with making a recommendation on whether Bentley should be impeached in the wake of a sex-tinged scandal involving a former aide. The matter was referred to the district attorney's office by the Alabama Ethics Commission. "There's a great distance between probable cause and beyond a reasonable doubt", Athanas said.

In a press release, the commission said they investigated Bentley for over a year and issued more subpoenas than it has ever issued since it was given subpoena power. "There is not a basis to find that the governor violated any law, much less the ethics act or the Fair Campaign Practices Act. But it's important to keep in mind that this is simply a finding of probable cause, not a finding of a violation", Athanas said. He won re-election in 2014 by a stark margin, however, after the scandal his popularity decreased and degraded his reputation.

Bentley was photographed by the Montgomery Advertiser leaving the Ethics Commission building several hours into the hearing, which holds high stakes for his political and legal future. The committee met several times past year after the articles were filed on April 5 and even went so far as to subpoena the governor, Mason and others close to them.

"I made a mistake".

"My only plans are to focus my full attention on my precious children and my husband who I love dearly", she said in a statement issued by Bentley's office at the time.

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  • Larry Hoffman