Scandal-scarred Alabama governor Bentley refuses to quit
Alabama's scandal-scarred governor was refusing to quit Thursday after he was accused of sleeping with his top political adviser — and after steamy excerpts from a purported telephone conversation between the alleged adulterers emerged.
"Baby, lemme tell you what we're gonna have to do tonight," Gov. Robert Bentley can be heard telling someone named "Rebekah" at one point. "Start locking the door. If we're going to do what we did the other day we're going to have to start locking the door."
Bentley, who does not deny it was him on the tape — but has refused to admit to a sexual relationship with Mason — was back at work.
"He is not resigning," Bentley's spokeswoman Jennifer Ardis told NBC News Thursday afternoon.
Meanwhile, his alleged paramour, Rebekah Caldwell Mason, issued a statement to Alabama Local News that dodged the question of whether they had an affair, but accused their accuser — fired Alabama top cop Spencer Collier — of gender bias.
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"As a wife and working mother, I commute four hours a day to serve on a team alongside some of the most dedicated and talented people in the state, who are committed to helping our people," Mason said.
"Unfortunately there are still people who are set on hindering the ability of women to work in the political arena. I am proud of what I have accomplished in my professional career."
Collier blew the whistle on Bentley and Mason during a Wednesday press conference that send shock waves through the Alabama statehouse. He claimed he was fired from his post as head of the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency on Tuesday because he refused to cover up the governor's affair.
A short time later, Bentley — a 73-year-old Republican who teaches Sunday school — admitted that "two years ago I made a mistake."
On the tape, Bentley can be heard saying: ""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 (unintelligible) and pull you real close ... Hey, I love that too, putting my hands under you."
Pressed to explain how he can claim they didn't have sex, Bentley answered: "That is not a physical relationship, making those statements."
Asked if he loved Mason, Bentley asnwered: "I love many members of my staff. In fact all the members of my staff. Do I love some more than others? Absolutely."
Mason, 44, is a married mom. Bentley is a father of four and grandfather of six. His ex-wife, Dianne Bentley, filed for divorce in August 2015 declaring that their marriage "has suffered an irretrievable breakdown," according to court records.