Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley pursued an increasingly public relationship with senior political advisor Rebekah Caldwell Mason that cut or strained ties with his wife and family, led him to misuse state workers and vehicles and in at least two cases threatened a staffer he believed recorded a conversation he had with Mason.
Those were the allegations made in a report prepared for the state's House Judiciary Committee as it prepared to consider the governor's impeachment, a broad outline of the case prosecutors expect to make in arguing for the governor's removal from office.
The 131-report, part of a broader filing running around 3,000 pages, paints a picture of Bentley becoming enamored with Mason while they worked on his 2014 re-election campaign. It also suggests the governor's suspicions that his wife taped a suggestive conversation he had with Mason made him emotionally unstable. At times, the report said, he spoke to aides about the relationship with tearful contrition. At others, it claimed, he confronted aides who knew or who he thought knew about the relationship with defiance, anger and threats.
The report also details growing suspicions among Bentley's friends and family. At one point, it says, First Lady Dianne Bentley — who divorced the governor in 2015 after 50 years of marriage — took a cellphone picture of what capitol employees termed "the love bench," a bench in full view of office windows where Bentley and Mason would sit together.
"If Governor Bentley meant to hide his affair from his wife, he did not do it well," the report said.
Bentley says he has broken no laws, and resisted calls from Senate President Pro Tem Del Marsh and House Speaker Mac McCutcheon to resign. He said Friday morning there was no need to release embarrassing details of his personal life.
“Exposing embarrassing details of my past personal life, as has happened in the past, and as I’m told will happen again, will not create one single job, will not pass one budget," Bentley said. "It will not help any child get a good education. It will not help a child get good health care."
Ross Garber, Bentley's attorney, was largely dismissive of the report in a statement Friday evening.
"We will review today's document dump, which appears to be an amalgam of hearsay, rumor and innuendo," the statement said. "I continue to have confidence there will ultimately be fairness and due process in this matter."