BRADENTON, Fla. – Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley pleaded guilty to two misdemeanor charges and resigned from office late Monday, rather than face impeachment proceedings.
As part of a plea deal, Bentley will be barred from seeking or serving in any public office. The plea will resolve any potential criminal charges, including the Alabama Ethics Commission’s recent referral of possible ethics and campaign finance laws violations to investigators.
Kay Ivey, a Republican, was sworn in as the state’s 54th governor shortly after Bentley stepped down. She has served as lieutenant governor the past six years, and before that had been the state treasurer.
“When I took the oath of office in 2011 and then again in 2015, I was prepared for this day, but never desired or expected it,” Ivey, 72, said in a statement. “The people of Alabama should know that there will be no disruption in the function of your state government.”
The Alabama House Judiciary Committee on Monday had begun impeachment hearings against Bentley, a Republican who has been embroiled in an affair-related scandal for several years.
Last Friday, Bentley said in public statement that he did not plan to resign, and that he had neither done anything illegal nor misused state resources.
Bentley pleaded guilty to failing to timely report a major contribution involving a $50,000 loan he made to his campaign and knowingly converting $9,000 of campaign contributions to personal use by paying legal bills for former aide Rebekah Mason, with whom he denied having a physical affair.
A report by the House Judiciary Committee’s special counsel, Jack Sharman, said that his investigation confirmed there had been an inappropriate relationship between Bentley and Mason.