Embattled Gov. Robert Bentley visited rural Franklin County in northern Alabama on Wednesday, his first trip to the area since his administration was rocked last by a scandal involving inappropriate comments to a former employee.
Bentley spoke to groups in the town of Russellville, where he addressed issues related to rural access to health care and broadband internet. But of course, when he spoke with reporters, the questions quickly went to his alleged misconduct with former political advisor Rebekah Caldwell Mason.
Asked whether he would resign, Bentley was definitive: “I have no intentions of resigning. My intentions are to try to make this state better, to work through the difficulties we’re going through.”
“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,” Bentley said.
“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.”
Bentley now faces an investigation by the state’s ethics commission on allegations he violated the terms of his office during the Mason affair.
State Auditor Jim Zeigler, a staunch critic of his fellow Republican Bentley, filed the complaint that precipitated the probe.