MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — Alabama lawmakers are starting hearings that could lead to the impeachment of Republican Gov. Robert Bentley.
A legislative report accuses Bentley of stonewalling investigators in a bid to hide details of his relationship with former aide Rebekah Caldwell Mason, and Alabama’s Ethics Commission has separately determined there’s probable cause that Bentley broke ethics and campaign finance laws during the scandal.
Here’s a look at the key details:
Bentley’s aw-shucks image was shattered in 2016 when the fired director of the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency publicly accused the dermatologist and one-time Baptist deacon of carrying on an affair with Mason. It was a stunning turn for a two-term state representative who unexpectedly won the governorship in 2010 after promising not to take a salary until Alabama reached full employment. He still hasn’t taken a paycheck.
Bentley’s wife of 50 years, Dianne Bentley, filed for divorce in 2015, months before the allegations of an affair became public. She also provided investigators with audio recordings plus text messages and other evidence that raised questions about the governor’s actions and truthfulness.
The Republican has since struggled to win support in the GOP-controlled Legislature, and Republican leaders have called for his resignation.
Bentley, 74, has steadfastly denied breaking any laws or having a sexual relationship with Mason, and he has publicly questioned why people want to embarrass him and his family. He has repeatedly said he won’t quit, saying there’s no reason.
In court, Bentley’s lawyers tried to delay impeachment with fairness claims.
The House Judiciary Committee has scheduled days of hearings about the possible impeachment of Bentley.
Alabama’s rarely used impeachment process is more like that of South Korea than the United States: Bentley would be immediately suspended from office if the House votes for impeachment, followed by a Senate trial.