Bentley insists he has not broken the law
The findings of a state House impeachment investigation are due today
Alabama House Speaker Mac McCutcheon called on Gov. Robert Bentley to resign from office immediately, days before impeachment proceedings into the governor’s billowing sex scandal are scheduled to begin.
“Let’s end this embarrassment to our state right now,” McCutcheon, a fellow Republican, said in a press conference Friday. “It’s the only way to avoid taking our state on a long, painful and embarrassing journey whose ending is likely already known to us all.”
The impeachment effort, which began a year ago, aims to resolve accusations connected with an alleged sex scandal involving Bentley and his former adviser, Rebekah Mason.
The state’s Ethics Commission announced this week that it had “found probable cause to believe” Bentley violated campaign finance and ethics laws related to complaints he misused state resources to facilitate his affair.
The state’s House Judiciary Committee is expected to receive a report detailing the findings of an impeachment investigation on Friday, and impeachment hearings are expected to begin Monday.
McCutcheon’s statement came hours after an apologetic yet defiant Bentley promised not to quit.
“I do not plan to resign,” Bentley said Friday morning from the steps of the state capitol. “I have done nothing illegal. If the people want to know if I misused state resources, the answer is simply no, I have not.”
Bentley said Friday that the people of Alabama “never asked” to hear about his personal life, and he implored those releasing “intimate and embarrassing” information about him to stop. Such details have prompted local media outlets and bloggers to dub the 74-year-old politician the “Luv Guv.”
“Exposing embarrassing details of my past personal life, as has happened in the past and as I’m told will happen again, will not create one single job, will not pass one budget, will not help one child get a good education, and will not help any child get good health care,” he said.
But lawmakers, including ample Republicans, assert Bentley’s failure to deal effectively with the yearlong scandal has impeded his ability to serve the state. GOP Rep. Ed Henry, who introduced articles of impeachment last year, has said removing the governor from office is “one of the few truly bipartisan issues.”
“He is not capable of running the state with the decisions he is making,” Henry told CNN. “Time and time again he has poor judgment and continues to make these decisions that are detrimental to the people of Alabama.”
Indeed, the scandal has cast a cloud of suspicion over a number of the governor’s political decisions.
In November, state Attorney General Luther Strange asked that his office take over “related work” in the investigation. Months later, after Sen. Jeff Sessions was named U.S. attorney general, Bentley appointed Strange to take his place in the Senate, sidelining the office’s investigation. The move raised eyebrows among lawmakers like state auditor Jim Zeigler, who said it “stinks.”