Robert Bentley resigns as Alabama governor; lieutenant governor replaces him

Alabama’s governor, embroiled in impeachment proceedings that began Monday, resigned Monday afternoon amid a criminal probe into claims of misuse of state resources to pursue and later cover up his affair with a former staffer.

Allegations of the affair with Rebekah Caldwell Mason, 45, which consumed his administration for more than a year, broke up GOP Gov. Robert Bentley’s marriage of 50 years in 2015. Lt. Gov. Kay Ivey, 72, became Alabama’s second female governor and its first female Republican governor when she was sworn in at 6 p.m. CT.

On Monday afternoon, Bentley, 74, was booked into Montgomery County Jail on two misdemeanor campaign finance charges. He pleaded guilty to failing to file a major campaign finance report and converting campaign money for personal use, was sentenced to a 30-day suspended sentence and 12 months of unsupervised probation, ordered to surrender almost $37,000 in unused campaign money, fined about $16,000 additionally and told to serve 100 hours of community service.

“There have been times when I have let you and our people down, and I’m sorry for that,” Bentley said in late afternoon in the Old House Chamber in the State Capitol after his guilty plea. “The consequences of my mistakes have been grievously unfair to you, my dedicated staff and my Cabinet.”

The misdemeanor sentence means that Bentley, a dermatologist since he left the U.S. Air Force, will be able to keep his medical license. He intends to serve his 100 hours of community service performing dermatological work in rural Alabama counties, but it wasn’t immediately clear whether his plea would halt a further investigation.

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