Bentley is latest controversy-plagued leader in Alabama
MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — Former Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley is only the latest high-ranking state politician caught up in controversy in recent years.
Bentley resigned and pleaded guilty to misdemeanor charges on Monday. But dating back to the inauguration of its first Republican governor of modern times, Alabama has a history of its highest-ranking politicians being convicted of crimes, removed from office, or both.
Here’s a look at some of Alabama’s biggest political dramas over the past 30 years:
Inaugurated in 1987 as Alabama’s first Republican governor since Reconstruction, Guy Hunt was a Primitive Baptist preacher and probate judge who rode a Democratic implosion into office during the Reagan era.
Re-elected in 1990, Hunt was later revealed to have used state airplanes for moneymaking preaching trips. He was convicted and automatically removed from office in 1993 after being accused of wrongly using money from his inaugural and transition fund for personal items including debt payments and home improvements.
Once billed as a “New South” governor, Democrat Don Siegelman completed one term in office in 2003. In 2006, a federal jury convicted him on charges that he sold a seat on a state regulatory board to HealthSouth founder Richard Scrushy in exchange for $500,000 in donations to Siegelman’s signature political issue, his 1999 campaign to establish a state lottery.
With much of his six-year sentence delayed while Siegelman appealed, he finally was freed from prison in February.
A zealous Christian conservative who was elected Alabama’s chief justice and then installed a Ten Commandments monument in the rotunda of Alabama’s main judicial building, Roy Moore was ousted in 2003 after ignoring a federal court order to remove the monument.
Voters in the deeply conservative state re-elected Moore as chief justice in 2012, but a state judicial panel suspended him from the post last year over an order he issued opposing same-sex marriage. Moore is still fighting to get back in office and could be a candidate for governor in 2018.
Once arguably the most powerful Republican in the state, House Speaker Mike Hubbard was removed from office in 2016 after being convicted on ethics charges, including claims he solicited business from lobbyists and corporate executives.
Hubbard’s ouster was a tremendous fall for a politician who led the GOP to its first legislative majority since Reconstruction in 2010 and was expected to be a contender for higher office. A judge sentenced Hubbard to four years in prison, but he remains free during an appeal.