A scandal that hounded Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley for more than a year with little resolution finally brought him down, abruptly ending his time as Alabama’s 53rd governor just past the halfway mark of his second term, reports AL.com. Before resigning yesterday, Bentley pleaded guilty to two misdemeanor violations of the campaign finance law under a deal with the attorney general’s office. He agreed not to seek public office again. He will serve one year’s probation, perform 100 hours of community service and repay $8,912 he used from his campaign account to pay legal fees for former advisor Rebekah Mason. Bentley was succeeded by Lt. Gov. Kay Ivey.
A legislative committee report released Friday said Bentley used his security staff and other law enforcement to further his own interests, mainly efforts to stop the release of recordings of his phone calls that revealed the nature of his relationship with former advisor Mason. The combination of the ethics findings and the report had significantly raised the likelihood that the legislature was prepared to remove Bentley from office. Bentley’s resignation follows the ouster of former House Speaker Mike Hubbard, who left office in 2016 after being convicted on ethics charges, and former state Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore, who was suspended from his post over an order opposing same-sex marriage. Two of Bentley’s recent predecessors have been convicted of crimes: Republican Guy Hunt in the 1990s, for misusing funds, and Democrat Don Siegelman, who was convicted of bribery in 2006.