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Bentley expresses frustration with media, says his actions were ‘not all that egregious’

Alabama Governor Robert Bentley, right, and Attorney General Luther Strange listen to Alabama Ethics Commission Director Judge John Carroll during an ethics training session at the Capitol Auditorium in Montgomery, Ala., Thursday, Feb. 12, 2015. (Photo: Governor's Office, Jamie Martin)
Alabama Governor Robert Bentley, right, and Attorney General Luther Strange listen to Alabama Ethics Commission Director Judge John Carroll during an ethics training session at the Capitol Auditorium in Montgomery, Ala., Thursday, Feb. 12, 2015. (Photo: Governor’s Office, Jamie Martin)

RUSSELLVILLE, Ala. — In his first one-on-one interview since becoming embroiled in scandal last week, Alabama Governor Robert Bentley told the New York Times his conduct in office has not been “all that egregious,” and pledged to bypass the “errors and misconceptions and opinions” of the press and social media by taking his message straight to the people.

“I still feel that, in time, all of this will come out, and everything will be exposed,” Bentley told the Times, insisting that adding more context to the racy phone conversations with his then-senior advisor Rebekah Mason would put them in a better light.

In an effort to set the record straight, Bentley said he plans to release a video in which he will speak directly to the voters who twice elected him to the state’s highest office.

“I want them to hear from my lips because when I was in the press conference the other day, that’s kind of a shock thing,” he told the Time’s Alan Binder. “I can’t answer everything, and in fact, I couldn’t answer everything that day because I didn’t know what was coming out. I really didn’t. I had never heard any of this stuff. I didn’t know.”

In that press conference, Bentley denied having a “physical relationship” with Mrs. Mason, but at the time may not have realized that he had been caught on tape discussing past physical encounters with her.

“You know what?” Bentley can be heard saying in one clip. “When I stand behind you and I put my arms around you, and I put my hands on your breasts, and I put my hands on you and pull you in real close… I love touching you. I do.”

“But, baby, let me tell you what we’re gonna have to do,” he continued later in the recordings. “We’re gon’ have to start locking the door. If we’re gonna do what we did the other day we’re gonna have to start locking the door.”

Bentley told the Times he understands that the recordings were “a shock to people,” but continued to insist that he has no plans to resign from office.

Mrs. Mason, however, was compelled to resign from her post as senior advisor on Wednesday, exactly one week after news of the sexually-charged recordings broke.

State Rep. Ed Henry (R-Hartselle) also told Yellowhammer he plans to bring articles of impeachment against the governor when the legislature returns from spring break next week.

The full New York Times interview can be found here.


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