Alabama governor faces impeachment hearings after ruling

Sen. Del Marsh

Sen. Del Marsh President Pro Tem Alabama Senate

A text message that's been at the center of the Governor Robert Bentley impeachment investigation, but has been a mystery until now, was revealed in a report released Friday.

On Wednesday, the Alabama Ethics Commission found that Bentley probably violated ethics and campaign finance laws.

According to a report released on Friday, Ms. Bentley was able to observe an ongoing affair between the Governor and Rebekah Mason through an old iPad, which Bentley gave his wife. He says he assumed these were communications with Rebekah Mason due to their timing in relation to phone calls between Mason and Governor Bentley, but he never actually saw Mason's name associated with these texts.

Bentley, a former Baptist deacon, used the language of his religion during his Friday public appearance, acknowledging "personal struggles" and asking for prayer. Expect witnesses during the hearing to lay out Bentley's misdeeds in colorful detail.

The legislative impeachment report suggested otherwise, saying he "encouraged an atmosphere of intimidation" to keep his romantic relationship secret.

The report accuses him of using state resources, including law enforcement, to hide the affair and protect his reputation, "in a process characterized by increasing obsession and paranoia". It also accused him of retaliating against an official who discovered the relationship. "I have not", Bentley said.

Ross Garber, representing the governor in the impeachment investigation, said in a statement they would file a brief with the Supreme Court Monday afternoon. "I sure miss you". In one text, the governor's then wife, Dianne Bentley, appears to deliver an ultimatum about the relationship.

The committee, following a week or so of hearings, will make a recommendation to the full House of Representatives on whether Bentley should be impeached. "You are the only one", Bentley wrote.

Special Counsel Jack Sharman said lawmakers planned to appeal. The commission referred the case to a prosecutor, who will decide whether to seek criminal charges.

The governor's legal team went to court Friday to block the impeachment procedures as tensions escalated between the Republican governor and Republican-controlled Legislature.

"It's the only way to avoid taking the state on a long, painful and embarrassing journey whose ending is likely already known to us all", McCutcheon said Friday.

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