Tag: governor robert bentley

BENTLEY RESIGNS

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Former governor Robert Bentley speaks at a press conference at the State Capitol on Friday, April 7. Bentley resigned from office on Monday, becoming the first Alabama governor to do so since 1837. (Albert Cesare/AP)

Katie Cline, Editor-in-Chief

Alabama governor Robert J. Bentley resigned from office on Monday, April 10 after allegations arose that he had used campaign funds for personal gain.

ersonal gain. Bentley’s reputation was irreparably damaged when an affair with his top adviser, Rebekah Mason, was brought to light in March 2016. Bentley’s wife, Dianne, had filed for divorce the previous year, and it was finalized in September 2015.

The governor’s resignation comes in the wake of official impeachment hearings that began Monday morning.

“All indications are that Governor Bentley is going to resign shortly,” Koven L. Brown, a state representative for District 40, wrote on Facebook on Monday. “He has submitted his letter of resignation to Lt. Gov. [Kay] Ivey and she is to be sworn in a little [later] this evening. As sad as this situation is, I am relieved that it is over and our state can move on. We have much work to do in this legislative session and it will hopefully move smoother with this cloud lifted. Please continue to pray for all of us in state government. Most all of us love to serve our respective districts and take our legislative positions very seriously.”

Bentley, who was serving his second term as governor, had been under investigation by the Alabama Attorney General’s office for criminal felony charges. The Alabama Ethics Commission confirmed that it had probable cause to support these accusations.

Bentley pleaded guilty to two misdemeanors: failing to file a major contribution report and knowingly converting campaign contributions to personal use.

As per the plea deal, Bentley has one week to pay $36,912 in campaign funds, essentially emptying that fund and giving the money to the state. He will also be required to pay thousands of dollars in out-of-pocket fines to return the misappropriated money to the campaign fund before that fund can be closed.

Bentley must also perform 100 hours of community service and is prohibited from running for public office again.

In a report released on April 7, the lawyer for the Alabama House of Representatives alleged that Bentley had coerced, sent threatening messages to and threatened to prosecute some of those who had criticized his affair with Mason. The report also described how Bentley reportedly used a member of his security detail to end his relationship with Mason on his behalf and how he allowed Mason to use official state

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A “not anymore” sign was taped under Robert Bentley’s name on an Alabama welcome sign on Monday night. (The Ostrich/Facebook)

vehicles after she had left state payroll.

Also included in the report are accounts of how Bentley attempted to cover up audio tapes of sexually charged conversations between himself and Mason.

Bentley will be succeeded by Lt. Gov. Kay Ivey, a former state treasurer, high school teacher and bank officer. Ivey is only the second female governor of Alabama, the first being Lurleen Wallace, who served from 1967-68.

“The Ivey administration will be open, it will be transparent and it will be honest,” Ivey said on Monday.

Session begins, Alabamians grit teeth

“It’s time we change course,” said Alabama Governor Robert Bentley in his 2015 State of the State address. “It’s time for a bold move.”

Lawmakers in the room were hoping the governor was laying out his agenda for a new golf course, not a course of tough legislative action.

Alabamians across the state are hoping Governor Bentley just wants us to show off bold moves on the dance floor, not moving cash from our pocket books to the state.

To the governor, to lawmakers and to all Alabamians I have to say: it’s time to grit your teeth. Because the course is going to be rough and the boldness of the Alabama legislature is yet to be tested and leaves us all wondering what changes lie ahead.

Governor Bentley proposed eight pieces of legislation that will, essentially raise taxes in Alabama. Many include bringing back or getting rid of old tax credits, but some are actually brand new tax increases.

In fact, two increases include a 2 percent increase on the tax collected from automobile sales and the other is a 3 percent increase on the tax paid when renting a vehicle in the state of Alabama.

The third new tax increase is an additional 82.5 cents per pack on cigarettes. The governor’s tax proposals will have combined estimated total new revenue of about $541 million. That’s $541 million more coming out of Alabamians’ pockets per year.

Gritting those teeth yet? Blood boiling yet? This is how the upcoming legislative session is going to go for lawmakers all across the state. Wondering, wishing, hoping, debating, crying, and begging for better solutions to the state’s problems.

In the legislature, it will be a knock-down, drag-out fight between those ‘no new taxes’ candidates (even though Bentley was one) and the ‘we need new revenue’ legislators. The legislative leadership have voiced skepticism over any new taxes, but at the same time they admit that our state is facing, at minimum, a $300 million budget shortfall – if not much more.

This is just the beginning of the many issues the legislature will be debating this year. Others include: charter schools, changes to the Alabama Accountability Act, same-sex marriage bills, the lottery, compacts with the Poarch Creek Indians – just to name a few.

I will do my best over the next few weeks to outline the hot issues and relevant topics taken up by our state’s lawmakers. I wish I could pain a picture of high hopes, but with polar opposite options of underfunded budgets or new taxes, it’s hard to do so.

The best I can say is keep your fingers crossed and grit your teeth. This legislative session is going to be a bumpy, but necessary ride!

Brett Johnson
Political Columnist