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DEVELOPING: State, Feds launch criminal investigations into Bentley-Mason relationship

Alabama Governor Robert Bentley (Photo: Governor's Office, Daniel Sparkman)
Alabama Governor Robert Bentley (Photo: Governor’s Office, Daniel Sparkman)

MONTGOMERY, Ala. — Yellowhammer sources have confirmed that both the Alabama Attorney General and the U.S. Attorney’s office have launched criminal investigations into possible wrongdoing stemming from Governor Robert Bentley’s inappropriate relationship with his senior advisor Rebekah Mason.

Multiple sources close to the investigations say the U.S. Attorney is looking into the possible misuse of state and campaign resources, which former Alabama Secretary of Law Enforcement Spencer Collier said he warned Bentley in 2014 could lead to criminal charges. According to Collier, Bentley told him at the time he had not broken any laws, but that he could not end the relationship with Mrs. Mason.

On the state level, sources say the AG’s office, which has endured its own share of allegations of impropriety in recent months, is looking into whether Bentley improperly involved himself in the state’s case against House Speaker Mike Hubbard.

Additionally, State Auditor Jim Ziegler filed an ethics report questioning Mrs. Mason’s sources of income. She is not a state employee, but in her role as senior advisor is paid through private entities that are not required to reveal their financial information.

“It is clear that he is misleading the people of the state about the nature of his relationship, but it is also clear that Ms. Mason is required to either be classified as a public official, or file as a lobbyist, in her capacity as an advisor who is paid by an outside source,” Zeigler said.

Zeigler also says the couple “have been using state property and resources in furtherance of their personal relationship.”

Bentley denies any wrongdoing.

“I have always complied with the ethics laws of the State,” he said. “In fact, I voluntarily release my tax returns to the public every year in a spirit of openness and transparency. I have always and will continue to cooperate with the Alabama Ethics Commission.”

The launch of criminal investigations begins a new stage in the growing scandal, which began when Yellowhammer News revealed the existence of audio recordings exposing the governor’s affair with Mrs. Mason.

Yellowhammer on Monday morning released the full audio recordings and transcripts, which call into question Bentley’s claim that he has “never had a physical affair with Mrs. Mason.”

In the recordings, Bentley can be heard discussing how much he enjoys touching Mrs. Mason’s breasts and the need to “start locking the door if we’re gonna do what we did the other day.”

Bentley has insisted he will not resign.

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