By: Lee Hedgepeth The committee considering the impeachment of Gov. Robert Bentley has issued a lengthy report outlining the two-term Republican’s alleged misdeeds in office. The report, which was released while the governor’s legal team argued in court to prevent its publication, pours fuel on the political and legal fire the state’s chief executive has found himself in since his extramarital relationship with former top aide Rebekah Caldwell Mason went public last year. The 131-page report was compiled by the House Judiciary Committee’s special counsel, Jack Sharman, and is the result of interviews, statements, and other evidence collected by the committee totalling thousands of pages. It gives weight to many of the claims made by former Alabama Law Enforcement Agency Secretary Spencer Collier, who Bentley fired after Collier cooperated with authorities conducting the criminal probe of then-Speaker of the House Mike Hubbard. Collier filed suit against Bentley, claiming he was fired not only because of his cooperation with law enforcement, but also because he refused to facilitate and cover up the governor’s affair with 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,” Sharman’s report concludes. Then, page after page, the report sets out a narrative of Gov. Bentley allegedly doing just that, particularly in...Read More
After more than nine hours in a closed-door session on Wednesday, the Alabama Ethics Commission found probable cause that Gov. Robert Bentley broke state ethics and campaign finance laws on four occasions. The commission began its regularly scheduled meeting at 9:30 a.m., then went into executive session to hear testimony from a number of witnesses including Bentley, whose staff and security attempted to shield him from the press’ view. Bentley has been under fire since his admittedly inappropriate relationship with former staffer Rebekah Caldwell Mason went public over a year ago. While Bentley has admitted to having “inappropriate conversations”...Read More
The Alabama House of Representatives committee considering the impeachment of Gov. Robert Bentley voted unanimously last week to move forward with its investigation of the state’s embattled chief executive. Bentley has been under fire since his extramarital relationship with a former staffer was revealed in early 2016. The 9-0 decision by the House Judiciary Committee was a reversal of the the body’s previous course of action, which — pursuant to a letter from former state Attorney General Luther Strange — had been to halt the legislative investigation into the governor until related work was completed by law enforcement. Just over two months after that letter effectively put the impeachment process on hold, Bentley appointed Strange to the U.S. Senate seat vacated by Jeff Sessions’ ascent to the position of U.S. Attorney General, a move some politicos said “stinks.” “By the attorney general vacating the office, the governor gets to single-handedly choose a lawyer to investigate him and his girlfriend,” Jim Zeigler, Alabama’s Republican state auditor, said of the appointment. “The whole thing stinks … We’ve had real problems in state government in Alabama over the past year. It’s got the potential to get much worse.” That sentiment — that Bentley would replace his own investigator — clearly held some weight, as Steven Marshall, Strange’s replacement as state AG, recused himself from the investigation of the governor soon after taking...Read More
The political underground is simply swirling in anticipation of what may be the final fate of our beleaguered Luv Guv. The worst-kept secret in Montgomery is that the Ethics Commission is supposed to meet in early April and vote to turn Robert Bentley over to the Attorney General’s office for prosecution on a number of offenses. How do we know that? Well, we don’t, but people sure are talking about it and writing about it, so it must be true. Forgive me if I cast my most jaundiced eye upon the Alabama Ethics Commission as an enforcer of legal...Read More
Gov. Robert Bentley, who lost the Gulf Shores beach house he shared with his ex-wife Dianne in their 2015 divorce agreement, appears to have made another real estate investment just two miles farther west down Fort Morgan Road, according to Baldwin County property records. Last October, the governor paid $137,500 for a vacant lot next to 6613 Sea Shell Drive. Notably, the property is just a block away from the state-owned mansion that recently benefited from a $1.8 million renovation, paid for with grant money available after the BP oil spill in 2010. Less than a month after their...Read More
About The Author
Gabriel Tynes joined Lagniappe in January 2012 as a web editor and reporter. He was promoted to assistant managing editor when the paper became a weekly publication in 2014. He is a graduate of the University of South Alabama and has previous journalism and public relations experience in the Florida Panhandle and Baldwin County. He lives in midtown Mobile with his two sons.