Monday, Apr. 10, 2017

The Latest: Staffer feels vindicated after governor resigns

By The Associated Press

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — The Latest on impeachment hearings for Gov. Robert Bentley (all times local):

6:45 p.m.

The former Cabinet member who first publicly accused Gov. Robert Bentley of having an affair with a staffer says he feels vindicated after Bentley's resignation and plea deal.

Former Law Enforcement Secretary Spencer Collier told The Associated Press on Monday that he tries not to take joy in anyone's misery but feels vindicated by the developments.

Collier held a blockbuster press conference last year a day after being fired by Bentley. He said he had confronted the governor about his relationship with a staffer.

Bentley resigned Monday and pleaded guilty to two campaign finance violations.

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6:15 p.m.

Kay Ivey has been sworn in as Alabama's new governor after Robert Bentley resigned and pleaded guilty to two misdemeanor charges that arose from an investigation into his alleged affair.

Ivey, who had been lieutenant governor, took the oath of office Monday at a ceremony at the Alabama Capitol. Bentley pleaded guilty to two misdemeanor campaign finance law violations.

Ivey called it a dark day in Alabama politics and a day of opportunity. She promised her administration will be open and honest.

She is Alabama's second female governor.

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5:30 p.m.

Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley says he has decided it's time for him to step down, professing his love for the state and telling the people that he has sometimes let them down.

In a Monday evening speech, the governor said he'd not always made the right choices.

"Though I sometimes failed, I've always tried to live up to the high expectations the people placed on the (person) who holds this esteemed office," he said at the Capitol.

The stunning resignation came after Bentley pleaded guilty to two misdemeanor violations of campaign finance law.

Bentley said he had prayed about it and talked it over with his successor, Lt. Gov. Kay Ivey, and they were committed to a smooth transfer of power.

Ivey's office announced that she will be sworn-in as governor at 6 p.m.

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5:15 p.m.

Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley has resigned after pleading guilty to two misdemeanor charges of violating state campaign finance law.

The attorney general's office announced the resignation Monday with a plea deal.

Bentley was addressing the media Monday afternoon at the Alabama Capitol. Lt. Gov. Kay Ivey's office announced that she will be sworn-in as Alabama's governor at 6 p.m.

Bentley's voice began choking with emotion as he addressed reporters at the Alabama Capitol. He said he always tried to live up to the high expectations placed on the person who holds the esteemed office. He apologized for mistakes.

Alabama's Ethics Commission last week found probable cause that Bentley violated state ethics laws with his handling of an alleged affair and referred the case to prosecutors.

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5 p.m.

Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley has pleaded guilty after being booked on two campaign and ethics charges in Montgomery.

Bentley appeared sullen and looked down at the floor during the Monday afternoon session.

Attorneys went over the charges as a plea agreement was signed. Bentley told a judge he understood the charges.

The agreement specifies that Bentley must surrender campaign funds totaling $36,912 within a week and perform 100 hours of community service as a physician. He also cannot seek public office again.

Jail records show Bentley was booked on two misdemeanor charges that arose from the investigation of an alleged affair with a top aide.

His office has scheduled a late afternoon appearance by Bentley at the Capitol. A person who has spoken to Bentley tells The Associated Press says he plans to resign.

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4:30 p.m.

Jail records show Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley has been booked on two misdemeanor charges that arose from the investigation of an alleged affair with a top aide.

A booking log at the Montgomery County Sheriff's Office website shows Bentley was processed on two campaign and ethics charges Monday afternoon.

A mugshot released by the jail shows Bentley smiling slightly, his head cocked slightly to the right. He's wearing a coat and tie.

Bentley is expected to resign Monday.

Alabama's Ethics Commission last week found probable cause that Bentley violated state ethics laws with his handling of an alleged affair and referred the case to prosecutors.

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2:55 p.m.

A person who has spoken to Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley says he plans to resign over allegations he covered up an affair with an aide.

The person spoke to The Associated Press on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to release the information.

Bentley is preparing to announce his resignation Monday during a Cabinet meeting. The person says Bentley is in good spirits over the decision to step down.

Word of Bentley's decision comes on the first day of impeachment hearings. He is accused of abusing his state powers to try to hide his romance.

The Republican governor has acknowledged making personal mistakes but has denied doing anything illegal or anything that would merit removal from office.

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11:25 a.m.

The top lawyer in an impeachment investigation says Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley did not cooperate with the probe.

Special counsel Jack Sharman said Monday there was a question of the governor's "candor." Bentley is accused of misusing state resources to keep an alleged affair with a staffer from being exposed.

Sharman says the governor's office turned over only innocuous text messages between him and former political adviser Rebekah Caldwell Mason. Sharman says the governor's former wife turned over others. In those texts, Bentley repeatedly told Mason how much me loved and wanted her.

The governor's then-wife, Dianne Bentley, was able to read the text messages because they also showed up on his state-issued iPad, which he had given the first lady. Dianne Bentley provided the messages to the committee.

It is not known if the messages were deleted from the governor's state phone when the committee requested them.

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10:30 a.m.

Impeachment hearings have begun for Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley, who is accused of misusing state resources to keep an alleged affair with a staffer from being exposed.

House Judiciary Chairman Mike Jones opened the hearings Monday by saying no task was more serious than the possible removal of an elected governor.

Jones said it was time to hear evidence collected by the committee's special counsel. The governor's lawyers will respond to those accusations later in the week.

Special Counsel Jack Sharman opened by saying that impeachment is the "people's check" on political excess.

The hearings are the start of a lengthy process that could end with Bentley being removed from office.

The Republican governor has acknowledged making personal mistakes but has denied doing anything illegal or anything that would merit removal from office.

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8:15 a.m.

A spokeswoman says scandal-plagued Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley is not personally involved in any negotiations to resign.

Yasamie August made the statement Monday morning as the House Judiciary Committee was set to begin impeachment hearings.

Asked if there were any discussions about resignation, August said the response was the same that the governor was not personally involved in any negotiations.

Bentley has struggled to shake off a scandal after recordings surfaced last year of him making romantic and sexually charged comments in 2014 to a top female aide before his divorce. The Republican governor has acknowledged making personal mistakes but has denied doing anything illegal or anything that would merit removal from office.

The hearings are the start of a lengthy process that could end with Bentley being removed from office. The committee will decide whether to recommend impeachment. If the House votes to impeach Bentley, he will automatically be removed from his duties and can only be returned to office if acquitted in a trial-like proceeding before the Alabama Senate.

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2:05 a.m.

Alabama lawmakers are set to begin impeachment hearings for Gov. Robert Bentley as they consider whether to try ousting the governor over accusations he used state resources to hide a romantic relationship with a top aide.

The House Judiciary Committee scheduled a week of hearings to open Monday that will culminate with a vote on whether to recommend his impeachment.

The Republican governor has acknowledged making personal mistakes but has denied doing anything that would merit removal from office.

Monday is expected to bring another round of legal filings in the escalating tensions between the governor and the Republican-controlled Legislature. The Alabama Supreme Court asked for briefs on Bentley's claims that the proposed impeachment hearings don't allow him to adequately respond to the accusations.

2017-04-10 23:49:53 GMT

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