BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) – The Governor Bentley scandal has been ramping up in the past few days, with many people in and out of the state trying to become part of the conversation.
Beginning with Jim Ziegler’s audit of the Governor, to Rep. Craig Ford’s call for him to resign, many figures have given their two cents on what Bentley’s next move should be. WIAT viewers have continued to weigh in on the Bentley allegations.
We posted a video with CBS 42’s Mike McClanahan on Wednesday night, and you rapidly responded with your opinions on the next move for Governor Bentley.
“He should definitely resign. He had an affair, probably used state money to continue the affair, and gave cronies a huge 80 percent raise,” said one viewer. “If he was a Democrat we all would have been called names for mentioning his ‘mistake,’ and the whole thing would have been reported differently and not an everyday occurrence. Just Sayin.”
Just before the Bentley scandal took off early last week, news broke of Bentley giving certain members of his cabinet 80 percent raises, in most cases taking salaries from $73,405 to $164,419.
Alcoholic Beverage Control Board Administrator Mac Gipson, Department of Economic and Community Affairs Director Jim Byard, Revenue Commissioner Julie Magee and Insurance Commissioner Jim Ridling received raises in October of 2015, according to the Alabama Personnel Department’s Deputy Director Alice Byrne.
Other people in his cabinet received less steep raises, like Alabama Medicaid Commissioner and General Counsel Stephanie Azar’s 45 percent raise that took her salary from $141,784 to $205,792.
At the time, Byrne claimed that the raises were part of an effort to bring the wages of these staff members up to the marks set by surrounding states. Byrne also stated that people in charge of many departments had titles that did not reflect the importance of their positions.
While some viewers believe that Bentley’s personal connections to these people resulted in the salary raises, others think that Bentley’s personal life should be off-limits.
“If it’s Gov. Bentley’s personal time it’s none of no one’s business,” said the commenter. “And if he had the alleged affairs, then that was between the Governor and the First Lady, and they obviously have taken care of that by divorce!!”
The Governor and former First Lady’s divorce was processed and approved on Sept. 29, 2015. Dianne Bentley is responsible for the recordings that have many calling for Bentley’s resignation and have ignited conversation over the past couple of weeks. She secretly recorded the Governor’s private conversations with staffer Rebekah Mason with her cell phone as she went for walks on the beach.
Former ALEA Secretary Spencer Collier made reference to the recordings during a press conference early last week, and Yellowhammer News made those recordings public later in the week. They can be found here on WIAT.com.
While some are looking towards the past, others look towards the future of the state and what comes next for the seat in Montgomery.
“Kay Ivey may do an excellent job,” said another commenter. “She needs that opportunity to try if Bentley gets put out.”
Lieutenant Governor Ivey’s name has been a hot topic during the Bentley controversy. As Lt. Gov., she would be the next in line if Bentley either impeached or stepped down.
Ivey’s office has refused to issue a statement during the proceedings of the past few weeks.