When a former Alabama governor started sending suggestive texts to a member of his staff, he probably didn’t expect them to sync onto the state-issued iPad he had given his wife.
On Monday, Robert Bentley, 74, resigned from his role as Alabama’s governor after an ethics report concluded he used state resources to conceal an affair with his adviser, Rebekah Caldwell Mason.
But the scandal truly began in 2013, when Bentley’s wife Dianne became suspicious of the budding relationship.
In March 2014, Dianne Bentley placed a recorder inside her purse and discovered that her husband called Mason and declared his love for her – a minute after his wife left the room.
Bentley’s efforts to dispose of the recordings led to many of the misuse of funds accusations he would later plead guilty to.
On the night of his re-election in the 2014 gubernatorial race, Bentley was allegedly convinced that his opponent had a copy of the recording and told Alabama Law Enforcement Secretary Spencer Collier to travel to Greenville to retrieve it.
His wife’s chief of staff Heather Hannah also claimed that Bentley told her she would “never work in the state of Alabama again” if she told anyone about the affair, the 130-page ethics report outlines.
After repeatedly finding her husband’s inappropriate text messages, Dianne Bentley filed for divorce from her husband of 50 years in 2015.
Some of the text messages Bentley sent Mason include:
“You look beautiful and feel so soft.”
“Bless our hearts. And other parts.”
“I love you, Rebekah 😍😍 ”
Bentley fired Collier by the time the administration began investigating his misuse of state funds in 2016. A day after he was let go, Collier finally confirmed the existence of the affair to the press.
The governor’s wife then released pages and pages of phone conversations and text messages to the ethics committee to help the investigation.
Bentley denied doing anything illegal or improper up until his resignation on Monday.
“I have decided that it is time for me to step down as Alabama’s governor,” Bentley said at a press conference Monday evening. “The time has come for me to look for new ways to serve the people of our great state.”
State lawmakers were in the middle of deciding whether to impeach him when Bentley agreed to plead guilty to two misdemeanors, repay the misused funds, and never hold public office again.