Alabama’s Republican Governor Robert Bentley is a clearly terrible elected official. Whether he is cutting state services to give his personal staff raises or spending $4,000 of taxpayer money to have a helicopter pick up a wallet he forgot at his beach house, Gov. Bentley is awful. He has been under investigation for some time over reports that he may have used state resources to cover up an affair he was having with a staffer. Yes, he’s just this bad. So bad that he even has a Republican-dominated legislature forced to work through a slow-moving impeachment investigation. A report to the House Judiciary Committee is imminent. Last night Gov. Bentley received some more bad news as the Alabama Ethics Commission found “probable cause” that Gov. Bentley violated ethics and campaign laws.
The commission found probable cause that:
- Bentley violated the state ethics law by using public resources, including subordinate personnel, equipment and time under his control, for personal interests. The vote was 3-1 with one abstention (Commissioner Frank C. "Butch" Ellis, whose wife is related to Bentley, recused on all four votes).
- Bentley violated the Fair Campaign Practices Act by improperly receiving a campaign contribution outside the 120-day window allowed by law. The vote was 4-0 with Ellis abstaining.
- Bentley violated the Fair Campaign Practices Act by using funds from his campaign to pay legal fees for former political adviser Rebekah Mason. The vote was 4-0 with Ellis abstaining.
- Bentley violated the Fair Campaign Practices Act by improperly making a loan to his campaign account outside the 120-day window allowed by law when not a candidate. The vote was 3-1 with Ellis abstaining.
Gov. Bentley would be termed out by next year, but getting him good and impeached would be a nice change of pace. Getting to have a corrupt official publicly disgraced in such a way would be a meaningful reminder that it’s not good to be corrupt. If Gov. Bentley found himself actually facing the real punishment of a two to 20-year prison sentence that these Class B felonies would carry with them, that would be a meaningful reminder that being corrupt is also against the law.