On Monday, April 10, 2017, Alabama Governor Robert Bentley resigned from office after pleading guilty to two counts of violation of campaign finance rules.
“I can no longer allow my family, my dear friends, my dedicated staff and cabinet to be subjected to consequences that my past actions have brought upon them,” he said at a press conference on Monday afternoon.
“Though I have committed myself to working to improve the lives of the people of our state, there have been times that I have let you and our people down, and I’m sorry for that.”
Bentley’s resignation comes in the wake of allegations that he abused his position and authority as the head of the state to cover up an affair with a former assistant, Rebekah Mason.
However, a plea deal was reached on Monday, requiring Bentley to resign, serve one year of probation, perform 100 hours of community service, lose more than $36,000 in his campaign accounts and repay almost $9000 that his campaign spent on Mason’s legal fees.
Lt. Gov. Kay Ivey (R) was sworn in as the Governor of Alabama a little later after Bentley’s resignation. Ivey, who is 72 years old, is only the second female governor Alabama has had, after Dem. Lurleen Wallace who served as the governor for 15 months between 1967 and 1968.
“Today is both a dark day in Alabama, but yet also, it’s one of opportunity,” Ivey said after her swearing-in ceremony.
“The Ivey administration will be open, it will be transparent and it will be honest,” she assured.
Alabama’s GOP members have been calling for Bentley’s resignation since the news of the scandalous phone call between him and his aide, caught on tape, broke. In the telephone conversation recorded on tape, Bentley can be heard admitting his love for Mason and goes on to describe putting his hands on her breasts.
“Baby, let me know what I am going to do when I start locking the door,” Bentley says to Mason during the conversation. “If we are going to do what we did the other day, we are going to have to start locking the door.”
Dianne Bentley, the governor’s ex-wife, filed for divorce in 2015, after 50 years of marriage. She had recorded the call in 2014 to see if her husband was having an extra-marital affair. Furthermore, the text messages Bentley exchanged with Mason on his state-issued iPhone appeared on the iPad that he had given to his wife, which was synced with his phone and was also a state-issued device.
While Bentley admitted to the telephone conversation with Mason, he denied allegations that he had been involved in a physical relationship. Mason had immediately resigned after the recording surfaced.