On Friday, Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley heaved a sigh of relief when his lawyers won a delay on his impeachment hearings on Friday…
Then, on Saturday, the State Supreme Court reversed it in a unanimous 7-0 decision. Reuters reports the impeachment proceedings will begin on Monday as planned.
In its ruling, the Supreme Court stayed a temporary restraining order issued by a circuit court judge on Friday that had halted the impeachment process until hearings could be held on Bentley’s claim that lawmakers did not give enough time to present an adequate defense.
72-year-old Robert Bentley stands accused of abusing state resources to conduct, and then cover up, his affair with a former adviser. The scandal came to light after Dianne Bentley — his former wife of over 50 years — recorded a steamy phone between him and the much-younger Rebekah Caldwell Mason.
— Yellowhammer (@yhn) March 27, 2017
His fellow Republicans have urged him to resign, but Robert Bentley defiantly declared:
“I do not plan to resign. I have done nothing illegal.”
Alas, as the late President Richard Nixon learned the hard way, if the original act doesn’t get you in trouble, the coverup will. Robert Bentley’s (alleged!) affair wasn’t illegal, but the things he( allegedly!) did to cover it up likely were.
On Thursday, Rachel Maddow summarized a report from the state’s House Judiciary Committee, which they say is, itself, grounds for impeachment.
“The report says the governor refused to cooperate with the investigation in any meaningful sense. But despite his lack of cooperation, they were able to detail things like: The governor dispatching Alabama law enforcement officials to break up with his alleged girlfriend on his behalf. He also directed officials from all over the state to confront people who might have sexy recordings of him and his alleged mistress. The report also details significant sums of money paid to his alleged mistress.”
But, Rachel Maddow goes on, “That doesn’t even cover the salacious stuff” like text messages between Robert Bentley and Rebekah Mason that — unknown to him — were synced with an iPad at home that his wife had access to.
Among them was the cringeworthy “bless our hearts and other parts.”
Robert Bentley seemed like an unlikely scandal magnet.
But as GQ reported back in June, Robert Bentley is about as unlikely of a scandal magnet as you can possibly imagine. He grew up in dire poverty but put himself through school. When he first entered politics, he was a mild-mannered and well-respected dermatologist whose life revolved around his practice, his wife, his kids, and their church. In 2002 he got elected to Alabama’s State House but was seen as an amiable backbencher who only passed a handful of bills.
In 2010 people laughed in his face when he said he was running for governor. But the two leading GOP candidates began attacking each other and the more they fought, the better Robert Bentley looked to voters. Once he locked up the nomination, he’d as good as beaten his Democratic opponent in this staunchly conservative state.
Rebekah Mason came into the new governor’s life because the telegenic news anchor had left her career to raise her children, but later she and her husband struggled financially. People in their church, First Baptist of Tuscaloosa, wanted to help and Robert Bentley just happened to need someone in his press office.
It took a few years, but they gradually became closer as Mason gained more influence. While her motives are unclear, at least one former confidante of Bentley’s says things took a turn for the worse.
“When she became his top political adviser, it was like the Hindenburg came down and fell on the Titanic as the Titanic hit the iceberg. I was watching a woman who didn’t know how a bill becomes a law running the state of Alabama.”
Others close to Robert Bentley believe he was ripe for the picking.
To their minds, Bentley—an awkward man with a heart-rending comb-over who’d married young and come late to his lofty position—was unaccustomed to female attention. And foolishly susceptible to it.
Meanwhile, Dianne Bentley began noticing her husband seemed less attentive, plus his once jam-packed and meticulously-kept daily schedule suddenly had large blocks mysteriously labeled “HOLD.” She also found it strange that he had suddenly developed a habit of randomly sending her rose emojis that felt like they weren’t meant for her.
On the advice of one of her aides, the governor’s former wife and first lady surreptitiously recorded Robert Bentley’s steamy phone call with his mistress in late 2014. Soon after he won his second term, Dianne Bentley filed for divorce. At that point, his goose was cooked.
— MontgomeryAdvertiser (@MGMAdvertiser) September 29, 2015
WATCH: Rachel Maddow reports on Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley’s swiftly imploding sex scandal.
Featured image: Video screengrab via AL.Com.