“I truly believe I was placed here for a purpose, and I’m going to fulfill that purpose.” Alabama Governor Robert Bentley’s press conference today raised more questions (and eyebrows) than it answered. Our Dr. Governor tried to dismiss audio tapes that reportedly had him discussing how much he loved to touch a staffer’s breasts as being “two years old.” Um… because age of a recording has an impact on its accuracy? He refuted the content of the recordings, even though he said he hadn’t heard them.
And, while he acted inappropriately, Bentley said he didn’t “have an affair” but “said things I shouldn’t have said” and “I love many members of my staff.” The Governor did not include his accuser, former Alabama Law Enforcement Agency (ALEA) head Spencer Collier, in that elite group.
Well ok then. That clears it up, right?
Here’s audio… it’s hard to understand until about a minute in and the reporters’ questions later are almost indecipherable. I was listening to it live and I had to guess at some of the questions because the audio feed wasn’t great.
Here’s an almost complete transcript. The reporters’ questions were almost inaudible, but you can tell most of the content by Bentley’s answers.
I accept full responsibility and want to apologize to my family and the State of Alabama. I am truly sorry and I accept full responsibility.
I want everyone to know this: that I have never had a physical affair with Mrs. Mason. I have never done anything illegal. I have never asked any member of my staff or any cabinet member, to lie. Despite what the ALEA Secretary – FORMER ALEA secretary said today. And at no time have I ever used the resources of my office to facilitate a relationship of any type.
In 2014, during my campaign for Governor, I leased an airplane to allow me to attend political functions. It is wrong for the state airplane to be used for political purposes. And, out of an abundance of caution, my campaign leased a plane.
It has always been my privilege and my honor to serve the people of this state and to serve as their governor. As I’ve always tried to do, I’m going to continue to work hard for the people of this state, and do the absolute best job that I can.
MEDIA QUESTIONS BEGIN:
QUESTION: something about Mason & her working relationship to Bentley
I think that’s what she is. She is my closest aide and is part of my leadership team. And she does an outstanding job. She has worked for me in various capacities. In fact, she has been with me the entire time before I was elected Governor. I have several members of my leadership team right now who have been with me that length of time.
I made a mistake. Two years ago, I made a mistake. I have rectified that. I have dealt with that, and we have moved on.
I’m apologizing for the things that I said.
Whatever’s been reported.
QUESTION: “Have you heard the tape?”
I have not heard the tape and so I don’t know who’s on the tape, but I’m sure that I have… at that time…. we… I said some inappropriate things and I know that I did that and so I apologize to her and I apologize to my family and to the state of Alabama.
Well, I… that does not lead to… that is not a physical relationship, making those statements.
QUESTION: “Sir, why should the people of Alabama trust you?”
Well, the people of Alabama have twice elected me, and I have been totally honest with the people of Alabama and I’m being honest today. The only thing I’m asking the people of Alabama today to do is.. as I stand before today, stand before you, the people of this state and say that I made a mistake.
I have made a mistake and I am asking those that have been involved – including the people of this state to forgive me, and I want to serve the people of this state to forgive me because I truly believe I was placed here for a purpose, and I’m going to fulfill that purpose.
What do you mean, “romantic relationship?”
I love many members of my staff, in fact all the members of my staff. Do I love more than than I do others than I do…. you know… some more than others? Absolutely!
QUESTION: “Sir, you trusted Collier for years in your administration. Why shouldn’t people believe him now?”
Well, what Mr. Collier is saying today is just not accurate and it’s just not true.
I have apologized to my children and I’m apologizing again. It’s… it’s… well, you know, Kim, we have been through a very difficult year. I have and my wi… my ex-wife has and my children have, my grandchildren have, and Mrs. Mason has. And her family. It’s not just one family. There have been a lot of people who have been hurt by all of this. And the entire state of Alabama has suffered during this time!
And I want us to start from this point on… we need to move forward – and we’ve tried to do that. And we made great strides in that.
I have known about the… I have been TOLD about the possibility of tapes for two years. I have never heard tapes. I have never seen tapes. But I have been told that for two years.
I know… I know… well, first let me say… I have stated emphatically today that I have not had a physical relationship with Mrs. Mason.
And… at times in the past, have I said things that I should not have said? Absolutely. That’s what I’m saying today.
I really can’t say… the period of time… the length of time that it was over… a period of months… I, I, I’m not going to say that because I’m just saying that it was a period of time in my life that… that I have made inappropriate comments.
Well I, what I’m saying is… there was no sexual activity.
You know, let me say this. I made mistakes. Even the most trusted person on Earth makes mistakes. That’s one of the greatest things in my life, that I feel that… as a human being, I do make mistakes. But the most wonderful thing that I have in my life is that I truly believe that the God who loves me, loves me even through the mistakes. And He uses those and He uses even difficult times in our lives… like, like… I’ve been going through!
He’s gonna use those to make me better and to make other people around me better. And so.. that’s.. that’s how I look at it.
I thank y’all.
Governor Bentley is right about one important thing: Alabama has suffered during his tenure as Governor – but not because he can’t keep his hands to himself or keep his zipper fastened. It’s because the policies that he and his legislative supermajority have pursued have caused huge budget shortfalls, hurt the state’s health care system, battered public schools, and fattened the wallets of lawyers and lobbyists at the expense of ordinary citizens.
If our Dr. Governor wants to ask forgiveness, he needs to start with policy. Those sins are far more serious and affect everyone in the state.
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