Alabama lawmakers open impeachment hearings against governor
- Author: Larry Hoffman Apr 11, 2017,
Apr 11, 2017, 5:16
Bentley's resignation follows the ouster of former House Speaker Mike Hubbard, who left office in 2016 after being convicted on ethics charges, and former state Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore, who was suspended from his post previous year over an order opposing same-sex marriage.
Bentley has vowed to stay in office despite growing calls for his resignation.
"Robert Bentley, governor of Alabama, directed law enforcement to advance his personal interests over those of the state", Jack Sharman, special counsel for the House Judiciary Committee, told representatives Monday afternoon.
Sharman's presentation was expected to take up most of the day Monday.
"The time has come for me to look at new ways to serve the people of our great state".
In a 131-page report released Friday, Sharman said Bentley had "encouraged an atmosphere of intimidation" and demanded that state officials help him cover up an "inappropriate relationship".
Bentley signed a plea deal that requires him to reimburse the almost $9,000 his campaign spent on the legal fees of former aide Rebekah Mason, with whom he is accused of having an affair.
"The Alabama Democratic Party faces its own internal disputes and is not in a position to challenge GOP supremacy in the state", Lyman told me Monday before Bentley resigned.
In addition to his impeachment drama, Bentley is also facing an investigation by Alabama's ethics commission - which announced last week it had found probable cause that he violated the state's ethics and campaign finance laws.
Both Republican and Democratic state leaders have called for his resignation, but in a statement he read Friday on the steps of Montgomery's courthouse, Bentley said he had no plans to step down from office.
House Judiciary Chairman Mike Jones opened the hearings Monday by saying no task was more serious than the possible removal of an elected governor. "There have been times that I have let you and our people down, and I'm sorry for that".
March 23, 2016: Collier publicly alleges a romantic relationship between Bentley and Mason; Bentley acknowledges personal mistakes but denies having a sexual affair with Mason. They included multiple text messages that Bentley sent the aide, such as "I sure miss you". But Bentley faced mounting pressure to resign, as well as expanding legal troubles.
Bentley's lawyers have been involved in negotiations for the governor to step down, likely by Wednesday, reported AL.com, citing unnamed sources in Montgomery, the state capital.
"The report accuses him of using state resources, including law enforcement, to hide the affair and protect his reputation, 'in a process characterized by increasing obsession and paranoia'".
At the heart of the matter is Bentley's relationship with a former staffer named Rebekah Mason.
The two-term politician known as the "Luv Guv" allegedly used his status to cover up the sexually charged affair with his former top aide Rebekah Mason.
"I have done nothing illegal", he said at a news conference on Friday.
Bentley's wife of 50 years, Dianne Bentley, filed for divorce in 2015, months before the allegations of an affair became public.