Alabama Governor Robert Bentley on Monday afternoon resigned [statement, video] from his office after impeachment proceedings were initiated against him by lawmakers that morning. Bentley was under investigation for misuse of state resources to pursue and cover up an affair with one of his former staff members, Rebekah Caldwell. Bentley has pleaded guilty [Reuters report] to two misdemeanor charges, failing to file a major campaign finance report and converting campaign money for personal use. Leading up to the impeachment proceedings, the Alabama Ethics Commission [official website] issued a press release [text, PDF] revealing that they had probable cause to believe that Bentley had violated the Alabama Ethics Act [text, PDF] and the Fair Campaign Practices Act [text]. Later in that same week, the Alabama House Judiciary Committee [official website] issued a report [text, PDF] from their impeachment investigation of Bentley, finding that he had directed law enforcement to advance his personal interests and subjected career law enforcement officers to tasks intended to protect his reputation.
Bentley’s impeachment and resignation is the latest governmental ethics problem for Alabama. In October, Alabama’s Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore was suspended [JURIST report] by the Court of the Judiciary [official website] for violating judicial ethics by ordering state probate judges to ignore a federal court order requiring them to grant marriage licenses to homosexual couples. Justice Roy Moore was initially suspended [JURIST report] in May after being charged with violating ethical rules. The Judicial Inquiry Commission (JIC) accused [complaint, PDF] Moore of failing to act impartially and refusing to follow the law when he ordered [text, PDF] probate judges not to issue same-sex marriage licenses [JURIST report] as their issuance ran contrary to Alabama law. The commission stated that Moore is bound by the Supreme Court interpretation of the Constitution and has violated the law. Soon after being suspended, Moore filed suit in federal court challenging the JIC’s rule that any judge under investigation must be suspended. In August, the court dismissed [JURIST report] Moore’s complaint, finding that it was not the federal court’s place to intervene in issues of state constitutional law.