Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley was back in the headlines for all the wrong reasons on Friday, suing to block potential impeachment proceedings while vowing to voters that he would not step down amid the continued fallout from a sex scandal that broke more than a year ago.
Bentley earned the unfortunate “love guv” moniker after a former top Alabama law enforcement official alleged in March 2016 that the governor had been carrying on an affair with his former chief adviser, Rebekah Mason. Those allegations sparked months of chatter about impeachment proceedings, as well as an investigation from the Alabama Ethics Commission, which just this week determined that there was probable cause to believe Bentley violated state ethics and campaign finance laws in the course of carrying out the alleged affair.
“I have done nothing illegal,” Bentley said at a Friday press conference on the state Capitol steps, according to AL.com. “If the people want to know if I misused state resources, the answer is simply no, I have not.”
If convicted, Bentley would face four felony violations punishable by up to 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $20,000, according to the newspaper.
Late Friday afternoon, the state House Judiciary Committee’s special counsel released a lengthy impeachment investigation report laying out all the sordid details of the alleged affair and subsequent effort to stymie any investigations stemming from it. The report notes Bentley’s then-wife, Diane, and senior staffer Heather Hannah blew the lid off the affair by secretly recording video of the governor telling Mason he liked to come up behind her and fondle her breasts.
Bentley has long insisted he and Mason engaged in “no sexual activity,” although he has apologized for “mistakes” he says he’s made.
The governor’s lawyers had sued earlier Friday in a last-ditch attempt to prevent the report’s release and halt impeachment proceedings, claiming he had insufficient time to address the charges.
The House Judiciary Committee is scheduled to hold its first hearing on Bentley’s impeachment on Monday.
Read the committee’s full report over at the site for local TV station WBMA.