Alabama Governor Denies Affair With Adviser

     (CN) – Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley denied on Wednesday that he’d had an extramarital affair with a political adviser, but admitted and apologized for “inappropriate” comments he made to a female aid two years ago.
     The governor’s statements, made at a hastily called news conference, came amidst a wild week in Alabama government.
     On Tuesday, Gov. Bentley fired Spencer Collier, the state law enforcement secretary after an internal inquiry at the department.
     In a statement, Bentley said the review “found a number of issues, including the possible misuse of state funds.”
     On Wednesday, Collier responded with news conference at his lawyer’s officer, where he accused the governor of having an inappropriate relationship with adviser Rebekah Caldwell Mason.
     Bentley and his wife divorced last year. Collier said that since then Mason has been the state’s “de facto governor.”
     “Two years ago I made a mistake,” Bentley said while taking questions at the news conference. “At that time I said some inappropriate things, and I know that I did that, so I’m just apologizing for that to her and I’m apologizing to my family and the state of Alabama.”
     Bentley was adamant, however, that there had been no physical relationship with his adviser.
     “I want everyone to know though that I have never had a physical affair with Mrs. Mason,” said Bentley.
     At his own news conference, Collier said he had personal knowledge of a text message between Mason and Bentley “that was sexual in nature,” as well as an audio recording, which Collier characterized as “an inappropriate sexual conversation.”
     Collier also said Mason has “wielded a level of influence over both the governor and state government that I have never seen in all my years of public service.”
     Collier further claimed that the governor had asked him to lie to the Attorney General’s office about an Alabama Law Enforcement Agency investigation.
     Bentley denied doing anything illegal, however.
     “I can assure the people of Alabama that as their governor, I have never done anything illegal. I have never asked any member of my staff or any cabinet member to lie, despite what the former ALEA secretary said today,” said Bentley.
     During his press conference, the governor described Mason as his “closest aide.”
     “She does an outstanding job,” Bentley said. “She has worked for me in various capacities. In fact, she has been with me the entire time before I was elected governor.”
     Bentley also said that he had not heard the audio recordings referenced by Collier, so he could not confirm whether they were of him or not.

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