The Alabama legislature is moving forward with the process to impeach Governor Robert Bentley, who has been accused of using state funds to facilitate a sexual relationship with Rebekah Caldwell Mason, who resigned from her position as one of his senior political advisers last week amidst the accusations.
The scandal began two weeks ago when Spencer Collier, the former head of the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency, accused Bentley of misconduct after he was fired by the governor. Not long after, leaked audiotapes of Bentley making racy comments to Mason over the phone were posted by local media.
The articles of impeachment were filed on Tuesday by a bipartisan group of Alabama lawmakers on grounds that included neglect of duty, corruption in office and incompetency. Mason herself has come under scrutiny as she was being paid by a non profit organization rather than the state. Collier has also made the accusation that Bentley fired him because he involved in the investigation of corruption charges against State Speaker of the House Mike Hubbard.
The resolution will most likely be sent to the rules committee. If it makes it past the committee, it will be voted on by the House, at which point it would progress to the State Senate. Should the impeachment ultimately take place, it would be the first in Alabama’s history.
“We’re looking at this governor who has essentially betrayed the trust of the people,” State Representative Ed Henry said at a press conference in the State House. “The only course the people of Alabama have to address this issue is through the impeachment process.”
Governor Bentley has admitted to making sexual comments to his adviser, but adamantly denies all other charges.
“There are no grounds for impeachment, and I will vigorously defend myself and my administration from this political attack,” Mr. Bentley said in a statement. “Today’s press conference is nothing more than political grandstanding intended to grab headlines and take the focus away from the important issues the Legislature still has to address before the end of the session.”