April 14, 2017

Fraudster of the Week — Ex Alabama Governor Robert Bentley

By the C|C Whistleblower Lawyer Team

Facing impeachment, Alabama governor Robert Bentley resigned on Monday after an ethics report revealed that he used state resources to conceal an extramarital affair with his adviser, Rebekah Caldwell Mason.  Bentley was charged with, and has since pled guilty to, two misdemeanors—one for failing to file a major contribution report, and another for knowingly converting campaign contributions to personal use.

Governor Bentley’s troubles began in 2013, when his then-wife, Dianne Bentley, became suspicious of the budding relationship between the governor and Mason.  According to the ethics report presented to the Alabama House Judiciary Committee, Dianne placed a recorder inside her purse in March 2014.  The recording captured Bentley calling and professing his love for Mason mere minutes after Dianne, but not her purse, left the room. 

The misdemeanor charges largely stem from Bentley’s efforts to prevent the release of that recording.  On the eve of his reelection in the 2014 gubernatorial race, Bentley believed that his opponent possessed a copy of the recording and was convinced that a scheduler might have leaked it.  He then ordered Law Enforcement Secretary Spencer Collier to drive to Greenville, Alabama to confront the scheduler.  Bentley also asked state law enforcement agents to look into the identities of individuals who mailed letters to Mason critical of her relationship with the governor.  The ethics report further describes threats made by Bentley to his wife’s chief of staff, Heather Hannah.  Hannah claims that the governor told her she would “never work in the state of Alabama again” if she disclosed the affair.

Bentley pled guilty to the two misdemeanor charges the day his impeachment trial was set to begin.  As part of the plea agreement, Bentley has agreed “not to seek or serve in any public office.”

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