MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — Alabama Republicans who pledged honest government have what might be their toughest job yet: picking up the pieces after a third top leader was run out of office in nine months.
Gov. Robert Bentley pleaded guilty to misdemeanor campaign finance charges and resigned Monday. His administration was engulfed for months by questions surrounding his alleged romance with a female aide nearly 30 years his junior.
Bentley’s departure comes with the Republican House speaker and the state’s chief justice also ousted.
State Democrats say Republican corruption is spreading. But new Gov. Kay Ivey is promising honesty in office. She now becomes the state’s second female governor and the first to rise through the political ranks on her own.
Ivey was sworn in as the new governor Monday night.
She’s the first Republican woman elected lieutenant governor of Alabama and the first Republican to hold that office for two straight terms.
Alabama’s first female governor was Lurleen Wallace, wife of four-term Gov. George C. Wallace. She ran as a surrogate for her still-powerful husband in 1966 when he couldn’t seek re-election because of term limits. She won, but died in office in 1968. Her husband regained the governor’s seat in 1970.
The 72-year-old Ivey is from Wilcox County, the same rural area where U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions grew up.