Former Montgomery County prosecutor: Bentley can run for US Senate despite plea deal
A day after former Alabama Governor Robert Bentley revealed in an exclusive interview with Yellowhammer News that he was open to running for the United States Senate in 2020, an attorney theorized that it was indeed a possibility.
Richard White, a former Montgomery County Deputy District Attorney who currently practices criminal defense law in Alabama state and federal courts, spoke exclusively with Yellowhammer News about Gov. Bentley’s head-scratching plea agreement and how it impacts his possible desire to reenter public life.
The bottom line for Bentley?
“Based strictly on the plea agreement, what I’ve read, he would be able to [run for public office again],” White opined, emphasizing that he only had access to the information that was publicly available.
In the plea agreement signed April 10, 2017 between Gov. Bentley and representatives of the State of Alabama, section four stipulates that he “will not seek or serve in any public office.”
This part of the plea agreement led the public to believe that Bentley’s political career was over.
However, it seems that this “Bentley-ban” may very well be unenforceable, as the former Alabama governor has already served out his sentence – which was one year of unsupervised probation, multiple monetary penalties, and one-hundred hours of community service though his practice as a doctor during his probation period.
“As long as he’s paid his money and it’s been over a year, I don’t think the Court has any jurisdiction over him,” White advised.
Based on his reading of the public plea agreement, and again spelling out that he was not privy to any other documents that may exist, White does not believe that Bentley would face repercussions from the Court if he sought a return to public office moving forward.
Yet, if Gov. Bentley reneges on the plea agreement, could the prosecution do the same and revisit dropped charges?
“That’s a really good question,” White admits.
“There might be other documents that I haven’t seen, but I would’ve thought it would’ve been in [the publicly available plea agreement] stating that if this is violated, then [the prosecution] can bring back charges,” he explained. “It obviously doesn’t say that.”
What does all of this mean?
“I don’t see any language in the plea agreement that’s public record that I think there’s any kind of punitive thing that can be done to him,” White concluded.
Sean Ross is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn