Robert J. Bentley enters guilty plea, steps down as Governor of Alabama

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MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP/WIAT) – The Latest on impeachment hearings for Gov. Robert Bentley (all times local):

5:50 p.m.

CBS42 has obtained Robert Bentley’s letter of resignation:

5:18 p.m.

Alabama lawmakers have already started to comment on Bentley’s resignation:

“The people of Alabama deserve and expect for their political leaders to be men and women of integrity. The state can move forward now under the honorable and trustworthy leadership of Governor Kay Ivey, and I look forward to working with her administration. Senate President Pro Tem Del Marsh will now serve as the presiding officer over the Alabama Senate. Senator Marsh is a very capable public servant, and I will continue to work closely with him to advance an agenda that puts the people of Alabama first.” – Senate Majority Leader Greg Reed

“Today is a sad day for Alabama. However, Governor Bentley is doing the right thing, and now the healing can begin for our great state. My prayers go out to Robert, his staff, and his family during this time. I have the utmost confidence in Governor Kay Ivey. She is a person of deep integrity and a capable public servant. I look forward to working with her to advance a conservative agenda that puts the people of Alabama first.” – Sen. Gerald Allen

“The American people’s trust in their government depends on the integrity and dignity of those in office, and it is clear that Alabamians have lost this in Governor Bentley. As governor, Bentley was elected by the people of Alabama to the highest position of authority and should consequentially treat the office with the utmost respect. I believe he has made the right decision in offering his resignation. I look forward to working with Lieutenant Governor Kay Ivey in her new capacity as Governor of Alabama.” – U.S. Senator Richard Shelby (R-Ala.)

“It is a sad state of affairs that the leadership of all three branches of our state government has – in only one year’s time – either been removed from office, or resigned because they were going to be removed from office for corruption. I believe Gov. Bentley’s resignation was in the best interests of the state, and I look forward to working with Gov. Ivey as we try to move the state forward. Now more than ever we need a strong, two-party system so we can break this chain of absolute power becoming absolute corruption. I hope the people of Alabama will take this to heart and vote for the person rather than voting for the party.” – Rep. Craig Ford

5:15 p.m.

Robert Bentley is speaking now.

“The time has come for me to find new ways to serve this great state, I am stepping down,” Bentley said.

5:05 p.m.

Supernumerary District Attorney Ellen Brooks announced that Governor Robert Bentley pleaded guilty to two misdemeanor charges: failing to file a major contribution report, in violation of Code of Alabama §17-5-8.1(c); and knowingly converting campaign contributions to personal use, in violation of Code of Alabama §36-25-6.  Brooks confirms he has resigned from office.

4:55 p.m.

According to the Office of the Governor, Kay Ivey will be sworn in today as the 54th Governor of the State of Alabama by Acting Chief Justice Lyn Stuart in the Old Senate Chamber in the Alabama State Capitol.

Governor Bentley handed in his resignation papers before being booked and released at the Montgomery County Jail. Bentley appeared sullen and looked down at the floor during the Monday afternoon session.

Bentley will receive 12 months unsupervised probation after pleading guilty to the misdemeanor charges.  He will also waive all his benefits and won’t be able to run for public office.

The agreement specifies that Bentley must surrender campaign funds totaling $36,912 within a week and perform 100 hours of community service as a physician.

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4:30 p.m.

Jail records show Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley has been booked on two misdemeanor charges that arose from the investigation of alleged affair with a top aide.

A booking log at the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office website shows Bentley was processed on two campaign and ethics charges Monday afternoon.

A mugshot released by the jail shows Bentley smiling slightly, his head cocked slightly to the right. He’s wearing a coat and tie.

Alabama’s Ethics Commission last week found probable cause that Bentley violated state ethics laws with his handling of an alleged affair and referred the case to prosecutors.

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4:10 p.m.

According to jail records, Robert Julian Bentley has been booked into the Montgomery County Jail. His bond is set at $300 per count, and he is facing 2 charges.

2:55 p.m.

A person who has spoken to Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley says he plans to resign over allegations he covered up an affair with an aide.

The person spoke to The Associated Press on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to release the information.

Bentley is preparing to announce his resignation Monday during a Cabinet meeting. The person says Bentley is in good spirits over the decision to step down.

Word of Bentley’s decision comes on the first day of impeachment hearings. He is accused of abusing his state powers to try to hide his romance.

The Republican governor has acknowledged making personal mistakes but has denied doing anything illegal or anything that would merit removal from office.

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11:25 a.m.

The top lawyer in an impeachment investigation says Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley did not cooperate with the probe.

Special counsel Jack Sharman said Monday there was a question of the governor’s “candor.” Bentley is accused of misusing state resources to keep an alleged affair with a staffer from being exposed.

Sharman says the governor’s office turned over only innocuous text messages between him and former political adviser Rebekah Caldwell Mason. Sharman says the governor’s former wife turned over others. In those texts, Bentley repeatedly told Mason how much me loved and wanted her.

The governor’s then-wife, Dianne Bentley, was able to read the text messages because they also showed up on his state-issued iPad, which he had given the first lady. Dianne Bentley provided the messages to the committee.

It is not known if the messages were deleted from the governor’s state phone when the committee requested them.

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10:30 a.m.

Impeachment hearings have begun for Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley, who is accused of misusing state resources to keep an alleged affair with a staffer from being exposed.

House Judiciary Chairman Mike Jones opened the hearings Monday by saying no task was more serious than the possible removal of an elected governor.

Jones said it was time to hear evidence collected by the committee’s special counsel. The governor’s lawyers will respond to those accusations later in the week.

Special Counsel Jack Sharman opened by saying that impeachment is the “people’s check” on political excess.

The hearings are the start of a lengthy process that could end with Bentley being removed from office.

The Republican governor has acknowledged making personal mistakes but has denied doing anything illegal or anything that would merit removal from office.

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8:15 a.m.

A spokeswoman says scandal-plagued Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley is not personally involved in any negotiations to resign.

Yasamie August made the statement Monday morning as the House Judiciary Committee was set to begin impeachment hearings.

Asked if there were any discussions about resignation, August said the response was the same that the governor was not personally involved in any negotiations.

Bentley has struggled to shake off a scandal after recordings surfaced last year of him making romantic and sexually charged comments in 2014 to a top female aide before his divorce. The Republican governor has acknowledged making personal mistakes but has denied doing anything illegal or anything that would merit removal from office.

The hearings are the start of a lengthy process that could end with Bentley being removed from office. The committee will decide whether to recommend impeachment. If the House votes to impeach Bentley, he will automatically be removed from his duties and can only be returned to office if acquitted in a trial-like proceeding before the Alabama Senate.

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2:05 a.m.

Alabama lawmakers are set to begin impeachment hearings for Gov. Robert Bentley as they consider whether to try ousting the governor over accusations he used state resources to hide a romantic relationship with a top aide.

The House Judiciary Committee scheduled a week of hearings to open Monday that will culminate with a vote on whether to recommend his impeachment.

The Republican governor has acknowledged making personal mistakes but has denied doing anything that would merit removal from office.

Monday is expected to bring another round of legal filings in the escalating tensions between the governor and the Republican-controlled Legislature. The Alabama Supreme Court asked for briefs on Bentley’s claims that the proposed impeachment hearings don’t allow him to adequately respond to the accusations.

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