Facing impeachment, scandal-ridden Alabama Governor Robert Bentley has resigned.
On Monday morning, state lawmakers began hearings to decide whether to impeach Bentley for allegedly using state resources and campaign funds to conceal an affair with a top member of his staff.
By Monday evening, with mounting calls for Bentley to resign, the two sides agreed that Bentley would plead guilty to two “failure to disclose” misdemeanors, repay the misused funds, and never hold public office again.
“I have decided that it is time for me to step down as Alabama’s governor,” Bentley said at a press conference Monday evening. “The time has come for me to look for new ways to serve the people of our great state.”
— AL.com (@aldotcom) April 10, 2017
On Friday, Jack Sharman, special counsel to the state’s House Judiciary Committee, submitted a 130-page report alleging that Bentley intimidated members of his office into keeping quiet about an affair with his adviser Rebekah Caldwell Mason.
“Governor Bentley directed law enforcement to advance his personal interests and, in a process characterized by increasing obsession and paranoia, subjected career law enforcement officers to tasks intended to protect his reputation,” the report concluded.
On Monday, district attorney Daryl Bailey had referred the criminal investigation to Alabama’s acting attorney general. The report authors also specified that they considered Bentley’s attempts to obstruct the investigation by withholding messages as an “independent ground for impeachment.”
“Impeachment is a remedy, not a punishment,” the report added.
Before the report was released, Bentley stood on the steps of the state Capitol on Friday and declared he did “not plan to resign.”
The investigation began after Spencer Collier, the recently fired head of the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency, confirmed he was looking into text messages “of a sexual nature” between Bentley and Mason in March 2016.
The governor’s ex-wife, Dianne Bentley, provided the messages to the House Judiciary Committee. She discovered them on a state-issued iPad her husband gave her that synced his accounts.
“I sure miss you. I need you. I want you. You are the only one,” Bentley said in one text to Mason.
In the report, witnesses also accused Bentley of getting a law enforcement officer to retrieve a recording of his phone conversation with Mason, threatening his wife’s chief of staff, and taking Mason on state aircraft although she wasn’t an employee at the time.
Lt. Gov. Kay Ivey will be sworn in as governor Monday evening.