(Adds quote from new governor)
By Wayne Hester
BIRMINGHAM, Ala., April 10 Alabama Governor
Robert Bentley resigned on Monday after pleading guilty to two
misdemeanors related to campaign finance violations and linked
to his relationship with a former adviser, ending a year-long
scandal that has enveloped the state's government.
The guilty pleas were part of an agreement with prosecutors
that called for him to step down, said Ellen Brooks, special
prosecutor appointed by the state Attorney General Steve
Marshall to investigate Bentley.
"I have decided it is time for me to step down as Alabama
governor," said Bentley at a news conference in the state
capital of Montgomery, adding that his service "was a calling
that God placed on my life."
He said he would work with his replacement, Lieutenant
Governor Kay Ivey, who was sworn in as governor about an hour
after his resignation.
Ivey, a Republican, becomes the second woman to serve as
Alabama's governor after Lurleen Wallace, wife of George
Wallace, who served from January 1967 until her death in May
"The Ivey administration will be open, it will be
transparent, and it will be honest," Ivey said during a short
speech after her swearing in by the minister at her Montgomery
"What we have done today is to put an end to this
administration," Brooks told reporters. "It states to all of us
that no one is above the law, even the governor."
The Alabama Ethics Commission last week found Bentley
probably violated ethics and campaign finance laws after it
completed an investigation into allegations that he used public
funds to conceal his relationship with Rebekah Mason, a senior
adviser who later resigned.
It accused Bentley of ordering law enforcement officers to
track down recordings that suggested he had had an affair with
Mason and accused him of retaliating against an official who
discovered the relationship.
Bentley has denied having a physical relationship with
Mason, who is married, and had repeatedly vowed not to resign,
saying he had done nothing illegal. His marriage of 50 years
also ended as the scandal unfolded.
In his statement on Monday, Bentley apologized for his
actions, but did not mention a relationship with Mason.
He was charged with misuse of campaign funds and failure to
file campaign financial reports on a timely basis.
After his guilty pleas, an Alabama judge ordered Bentley to
serve one year of unsupervised probation, make restitution and
give up his retirement benefits from the state. He also agreed
not to run for another political office, Brooks said.
After Bentley agreed to the deal, the Alabama House
Judiciary Committee suspended hearings which began on Monday
that could have led to his impeachment.
During the hearing, Bentley told several top aides "what
happens in the governor's office stays in the governor's
office," Jack Sharman, the committee's counsel, said regarding
allegations regarding his relationship with Mason.
(Additional reporting by Bernie Woodall in Fort Lauderdale,
Florida and Ian Simpson in Washington; writing by Frank McGurty;
editing by Toni Reinhold, G Crosse and Lisa Shumaker)