Alabama 'Love Gov' Robert Bentley resigns to avoid impeachment

The 'Love Gov' is stepping down to avoid impeachment but was charged Monday with two counts of violating state campaign laws.

Alabama's Gov. Robert Bentley resigned amid allegations he tried to cover-up an adulterous affair with a former adviser and will be replaced by Lt. Gov. Kay Ivey, Bentley announced at a press conference Monday evening.

"I've always believed the honor of serving as your governor is a calling that God placed on my life," Bentley said in announcing his resignation. "Though I have sometimes failed, I have always tried to live up to the high expectations that people place on the person who holds this esteemed office. There have been times that I have let you and our people down, and I'm sorry for that."

He added, "I can no longer allow my family, my dear friends, my dedicated staff and cabinet to be subjected to the consequences that my past actions have brought on them.

"I want you to know, I love our people with all my heart."

The Associated Press reported that Bentley first announced his resignation during a Cabinet meeting Monday afternoon.

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Alabama Governor Robert Bentley
US President-elect Donald Trump (C) talks with Alabama Governor Robert Bentley (2nd L) and US Attorney General nominee Jeff Sessions (L) as he arrives in Mobile, Alabama, for a 'Thank You Tour 2016' rally on December 17, 2016. / AFP / JIM WATSON (Photo credit should read JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images)
Alabama Governor Robert Bentley speaks during a news conference in Mobile, Alabama July 2, 2012. European planemaker Airbus held a news conference to announce that they will construct an assembly plant for their A320 in Mobile. The plant will give Airbus it's first assembly site in the United States. REUTERS/Jonathan Bachman (UNITED STATES - Tags: TRANSPORT BUSINESS)
US President Barack Obama shakes hands with Alabama Governor Robert Bentley (L) upon arrival on Air Force One at Birmingham-Shuttlesworth International Airport in Birmingham, Alabama, March 26, 2015. Obama is traveling to speak about the economy. AFP PHOTO / SAUL LOEB (Photo credit should read SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)
Fabrice Bregier, Airbus President and CEO and Alabama Governor Robert Bentley (R), pose for a photo at a ground breaking ceremony for its first U.S. assembly plant in Mobile, Alabama April 8, 2013. Airbus broke ground on a plane assembly plant in Mobile, Alabama, on Monday, a big step toward making its first U.S. plant a reality in a bid to win market share from Boeing Co. REUTERS/Lyle Ratliff (UNITED STATES - Tags: TRANSPORT BUSINESS INDUSTRIAL CONSTRUCTION)
L-R: Alabama Governor Robert Bentley, Alabama Congressman Joe Bonner (R-AL), EADS President and CEO Tom Enders, Airbus President and CEO Fabrice Bregier, and Mobile Mayor Sam Jones talk after Europe's Airbus broke ground on its first U.S. assembly plant in Mobile, Alabama April 8, 2013. Airbus broke ground on a plane assembly plant in Mobile, Alabama, on Monday, a big step toward making its first U.S. plant a reality in a bid to win market share from Boeing Co. REUTERS/Lyle Ratliff (UNITED STATES - Tags: TRANSPORT BUSINESS INDUSTRIAL CONSTRUCTION)
Alabama Governor Robert Bentley speaks during a news conference at the Arthur R. Outlaw Convention Center in Mobile, Alabama February 24, 2011. Boeing Co has won a contract worth over $30 billion to build new refueling planes for the U.S. Air Force, beating out Europe's EADS, the Pentagon said on Thursday. REUTERS/ Lyle W. Ratliff (UNITED STATES - Tags: MILITARY BUSINESS EMPLOYMENT)
Fabrice Bregier, Airbus President and CEO shakes hands with Alabama Governor Robert Bentley (R), after breaking ground on its first U.S. assembly plant in Mobile, Alabama April 8, 2013. Airbus broke ground on a plane assembly plant in Mobile, Alabama, on Monday, a big step toward making its first U.S. plant a reality in a bid to win market share from Boeing Co. REUTERS/Lyle Ratliff (UNITED STATES - Tags: TRANSPORT BUSINESS INDUSTRIAL CONSTRUCTION)
Alabama Governor Robert Bentley (L), Jet Blue CEO David Barger (C) and Barry Eccleston, president and CEO of Airbus Americas pose for a photo in front of a Jet Blue A320 at Brookley Airport in Mobile, Alabama July 2, 2012. European planemaker Airbus announced today that they will construct an assembly plant for their A320 in Mobile. The plant will give Airbus its first assembly site in the United States. REUTERS/Jonathan Bachman (UNITED STATES - Tags: TRANSPORT BUSINESS POLITICS)
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Ivey, 72, will be the second woman to be governor of Alabama when she is sworn in Monday evening, the sources said.

Meanwhile, Bentley was booked on two campaign-related charges — failure to file campaign disclosures and failure to disclose economic interests — and released after posting $600 bond.

Bentley pleaded guilty to the two charges, both misdemeanors, according to District Attorney Ellen Brooks.

Bentley's expected exit comes as the state's House Judiciary Committee was wrapping up its first day of impeachment hearings following the release of a tawdry report detailing the governor's alleged affair with Rebekah Caldwell Mason.

It revealed, among other things, that the governor's now ex-wife, Dianne, found the tell-tale texts, including one in which Bentley professes his love for Mason — but mistakenly sent it to his wife of 50 years.

The report also included revelations that Bentley routinely called Mason "baby" in meetings, that Mason sometimes spent the night in the pool house at the Governor's Mansion, and about how the governor on a trip once opened a door while wearing only boxer shorts thinking that she was there only to be confronted by hotel staffers.

Bentley "encouraged an atmosphere of intimidation" to silence his staff and "protect his reputation," the report stated. And neither the governor nor his staff "meaningfully" cooperated with the investigation, which could be grounds "for his impeachment."

A 74-year-old grandfather of six from Tuscaloosa who sometimes teaches Sunday school, Bentley has denied sleeping with Mason, a married mom nearly three decades younger than him. He also denies punishing the police officer who blew the whistle on their alleged adulterous affair. And he has asked God to forgive him.

Bentley's decision to quit came after the Alabama Republican Party's steering committee passed a resolution urging him to "resign immediately."

The scandal that took Bentley down erupted in March 2016 when Alabama's former top cop, Spencer Collier, claimed he got canned because he refused to cover up the alleged illicit romance.

Bentley admitted he "made a mistake" but refused to be pinned down when asked if he and Mason had done more than exchange sexy texts. And he denied Collier's claim that he leased a state plane to so Mason's name would not appear on flight manifests.

But Bentley admitted making "inappropriate comments" and steamy excerpts of a telephone conversation between him and his aide — that was surreptitiously recorded by Dianne Bentley and her trusted aide — raised eyebrows all across Alabama.

Within months, 23 state representatives — most of them Republicans, like the governor — signed impeachment articles accusing Bentley of corruption and neglect of duty.

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