Monday, just three days after Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley said he would not resign, he did resign. The legislature gave him little alternative, as they had begun impeachment proceedings. Both Bentley and the legislature are Republican, so it wasn’t a partisan political fight. Bentley had been accused of having an affair with a senior staffer and using $9000 in campaign funds to cover it up, which reportedly exposed him to as many as four felony ethics charges. He at first denied any affair or financial wrongdoing, but he resigned Monday after accepting a deal to plead guilty to two misdemeanors. He was sentenced to 30 days in jail (suspended), a year of probation, paying restitution, 100 hours of community service, and a ban on ever holding public office again.
Some people are taking special note that Gov. Bentley abandoned Donald Trump in mid-campaign after the tape of Trump’s private comments from 10 years before surfaced, saying he couldn’t support someone who talked about women like that. If Gov. Bentley is guilty of what he’s accused of, that would be a pretty glaring example of hypocrisy. Still, it’s always sad to see someone so successful brought down by personal weaknesses. But that doesn’t negate the fact that political leaders are given a great deal of public trust. If you betray that trust, the only honorable thing to do is resign, not drag the public through a long, divisive and embarrassing partisan battle just to cling onto power. That happened in the ‘90s, and a lot of voters obviously still remembered it.
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