Lawmakers on Alabama's ethics committee look to impeach governor over 2014 sex tape
Committee will convene Tuesday for "impeachment meeting"
Alabama lawmakers are meeting Tuesday to explore options for impeaching the state’s governor, according to a scheduling posted on the state legislature’s website.
Audio recordings from 2014 purportedly revealed Gov. Robert Bentley engaging in sexually explicit conversations with one of his former aides, Rebekah Mason, leading to lawmakers exploring impeachment last year.
At the time, State Rep. Mike Ball, chairman of the House Ethics Committee, said that the tapes had sparked a “crisis of confidence” which needed to be resolved.
Now, the Alabama House Ethics and Campaign Finance Committee will convene Tuesday morning to discuss moving forward with possible attempts to remove Bentley.
How impeachment works
In Alabama, articles of impeachment must be brought forward by the state House of Representatives, while the state Senate acts as jury. Most states follow a similar procedure, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
Lead sponsor of the move, state Rep. Ed Henry, said last year he was pushing impeachment because the state House needs to be responsive to voters and not wait for the court system and law enforcement agencies to finish their work in the case.
“That would be passing the buck,” Henry said.
The back story
Both Bentley and Mason have denied having a physical affair. Bentley and his wife divorced last year.
Bentley has apologized and maintains he did nothing illegal. He has said several times he won’t resign.
Whether or not Bentley had an affair, many Alabamians are angry about what appears to be subterfuge coming from a politician who campaigned as an honest, principled conservative.
Spencer Collier, the former head of the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency, was fired on March 22. After being ousted, Collier said he had seen text messages and heard audio recordings of “a sexual nature” between Bentley and Mason, the aide.
The tapes were made public by the Bentley family, according to AL.com, which published excerpts. AL.com reported that it was allowed to hear portions of the tapes by people close to the Bentley family.
AL.com says the tapes were made by family members as they tried to figure out whether the governor was having an affair.
On one tape, Bentley could be heard saying: “When I stand behind you, and I put my arms around you, and I put my hands on your breasts, and I put my hands [unintelligible] and just pull you real close. I love that, too.”
Mason, who is married, resigned last year.
“My only plans are to focus my full attention on my precious children and my husband who I love dearly,” she said in a statement issued by Bentley’s office at the time. “They are the most important people in my life. Thank you for your prayers for our family.”
CNN’s Joe Sutton contributed reporting.