Two-term Republican governor of Alabama, Robert Bentley, was having an affair with his chief advisor, Rebekah Caldwell Mason, which was discovered by Spencer Collier, the head of the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency.
According to AL.com, Collier, who considered Bentley a friend and father figure, approached the governor with what he knew in 2014 and said the governor confirmed the relationship, but vowed to end it quickly.
"It's a horrible, ugly episode and I am ashamed to have been around it," Collier said. "But I told him I would never lie for him."
Collier said he advised the governor he would be committing a felony if he used state equipment or resources to carry out such a relationship.
He says the governor assured him no such violation took place.
Ironically, Bentley fired Collier on Wednesday, reportedly after an internal investigation at ALEA found possible misuse of money under Collier.
Collier claimed that a family member of Bentley created a secret recording proving the affair took place and gave a copy to Lewis and the new head of ALEA, Stan Stabler, who then destroyed it. The governor, his head of security Ray Lewis, and Stabler, all denied the recording existed.
That audio (below) was released online by Alabama Media Group on Wednesday, essentially vindicating Collier's claims.
In the clip, Bentley tells Rebekah Mason, “You know what, 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 [indaudible] and pull you real close. I love that, too.”
“You kiss me. I love that,” he said at another point in the recording. “You know I do love that.”
Mason, a former Miss Alabama contestant, is married to the governor's director of the Office of Faith-Based and Volunteer Services.
Bentley is himself a former Baptist deacon.
Dianne Bentley, the governor’s wife of 50 years, filed for divorce in 2015, stating that the marriage had suffered an irreparable breakdown.
In a press conference on Wednesday, the governor stated, “I made a mistake. Two years ago I made a mistake,” Bentley said, adding that he had previously apologized to his family and to Mason and her family. “Today I want to apologize to the people of the state of Alabama and once again, I want to apologize to my family. I am truly sorry and I accept full responsibility.”
Here is Bentley's complete statement: