Alabama Governor to Resign in Wake of Sex Scandal

(CN) – Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley will reportedly resign Monday rather than face impeachment proceedings over charges that he abused his authority to cover up an extramarital affair with a top aide. In addition, there is late word that Bentley has been charged with two misdemeanors arising from an investigation of the alleged affair.

A former Bentley administration official told the Associated Press that the 74-year-old Republican will announce his resignation during a Cabinet meeting Monday afternoon.

The sex scandal that has engulfed the governor for nearly a year became an insurmountable crisis for Bentley after legislators moved to open impeachment hearings against him on Monday.

Bentley had received a temporary reprieve on Friday, when a Montgomery County, Alabama judge temporarily blocked the proceeds. But the Alabama Supreme Court issued an emergency ruling on Saturday that cleared the way for the impeachment hearing to begin Monday.

The sex-tinged scandal gathered force over the past few days and legislators turned up the pressure by opening impeachment hearings Monday. Bentley had steadfastly refused to resign, even though it appeared he had practically no support in the GOP-controlled Legislature.

The Alabama House Judiciary Committee announced afterwards that it intended to proceed with impeachment hearings immediately.

Following the ruling, Judiciary Committee Chair Mike Jones praised the decision, calling it “a great day for the Constitution of Alabama.”

“I want to thank the members of the Alabama Supreme Court for quickly acting on our appeal and recognizing, what a circuit court judge didn’t understand, that there are three branches of government and the Alabama Legislature is free to conduct its business as prescribed in the state constitution,” Jones said in a statement.

An impeachment report compiled by special counsel to the committee was released on Friday detailing Bentley’s controversial relationship with former political advisor Rebekah Mason and its negative effects on the governor’s office.

Bentley has repeatedly denied that he had a physical affair with Mason, though he has admitted to making “inappropriate” statements to her. He also stated Friday that he has no plans to resign, despite calls from state leaders.

The report’s release came on the heels of another critical blow to the governor, as the Alabama Ethics Commission found probable cause on Wednesday that Bentley had violated state ethics and campaign finance laws.

Bentley’s resignation would follow 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 last year over an order opposing same-sex marriage.

 

 

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