Republican Gov. Robert Bentley is probably the only person in Alabama right now who doesn’t think he’ll be impeached for ethics violations.
Bentley is standing on a political precipice after the state Supreme Court on Saturday cleared the way for a House Judiciary Committee impeachment hearing on Monday, The Associated Press reported. Bentley, a 74-year-old former Baptist deacon, is accused of violating campaign finance and ethics laws.
You might remember the good deacon from his efforts back in 2015 to close 31 driver’s license facilities across the state. That left eight of Alabama’s 11 counties with a majority African American population without a driver’s license facility, according to reports by Alabama.com. That’s important, because Alabama requires photo ID for voting, and driver’s license facilities are the easiest and most popular place to get them. (See how that works?)
Bentley claimed the move was to cut state costs, but that argument was bullshit, as anyone who looks at a map can easily figure out. According to Alabama.com, the closing of the facilities would save the state only about $200,000, compared to a general budget shortfall of up to $200 million.
The governor’s attempt to disenfranchise black voters didn’t pan out in the end, because the U.S. Department of Transportation intervened with a federal investigation, stating that facility closings violated the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The federal agency’s involvement was prompted by an NAACP lawsuit and pressure from civil rights groups.
Bentley also is a vocal supporter of President Donald Trump’s anti-immigrant policies, issuing a statement last January saying that Alabama would not support sanctuary cities. In 2011, he signed one of the most draconian immigration laws enacted in recent memory, requiring public schools to check on students’ immigration status and making it illegal to knowingly give a ride to an undocumented immigrant. After federal courts blocked several of the law’s measures, he signed a revised version the following year.
But none of this is the reason for Bentley’s impending political demise, which could land him up to 20 years in prison if the legal process moves forward and he is convicted. Instead, much of the governor’s undoing comes from an alleged affair with his former top aide, and his paranoid attempts to cover it up by bullying people (including investigators) with state resources.
While all of this may be indicative of the twisted morality with which our political system operates in the U.S., there is a silver lining. According to a report issued Friday by the investigator leading impeachment efforts, Rebekah Mason—the governor’s former adviser and the target of his cheating ways—is the person who proposed that driver’s license facilities be closed, Alabama.com reported. She also allegedly asked the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency (ALEA) to “put together a plan” to make it happen.
The head of ALEA, Spencer Collier, then reported the plan to the state attorney general’s office, the newspaper reported. Oh, the karma.