RUSSELLVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) – Governor Robert Bentley visited with groups in Russellville on Wednesday. It was his first trip to north Alabama since news of the scandal involving his senior political advisor broke last week.
Bentley was firm that he plans to remain on the job. “I have no intentions of resigning,” he said. “My intentions are to try to make this state better, to work through the difficulties we’re going through.”
Bentley hinted about changes possibly coming to his administration, although he did not specify further. “We may have some organizational changes, but we’re going to work through this and I want the people of the state to know how much I care about them. I want the people of Franklin County to know how much I care about them. They’ve known that over the years when I was here for the tornadoes. They know that I love them.”
Gov. Bentley tried to keep the focus of Wednesday’s visit to issues of rural health care and improved internet connectivity in rural areas of the state, two parts of his Great State 2019 strategic plan. He is urging legislators to take up related bills during their remaining time in the session.
Are they listening, though? A reporter asked Bentley if he’s concerned his ability to govern has been diminished.
“Have I made mistakes? Yes. I’m sorry. We have addressed them. I’ve apologized. These are old issues, but it’s just now that people are hearing about them,” Gov. Bentley replied.
“How are you going to rebuild trust with the people of Alabama?” someone else asked.
“I’m going to continue to work hard for the people, just like we’re doing today,” Bentley replied. “Really, our goal is to try to make people’s lives better. That’s always been my goal. That’s all I’ve wanted to do as Governor. I don’t take a salary, and I’ve worked hard for this state. We’ve had a good administration. We’ve had some setbacks, obviously, but we’re going to continue to work hard and try to make the lives of the people better, because it’s the people that make the difference.”
Mrs. Mason was not with Governor Bentley today. He was joined by Yasamie August, his Press Secretary.
The Alabama Ethics Commission is investigating a complaint filed against the governor and Rebekah Caldwell Mason. Gov. Bentley has acknowledged inappropriate behavior involving Mason, but insists the two did not have a physical relationship. An attorney with the ethics commission said special agents will be assigned to the case. State Auditor Jim Zeigler requested the investigation.