There’s nothing that attracts the attention of the media more than an unfaithful political scandal. Bill Clinton and Anthony Weiner have been amongst the most notorious for this activity but when it came to ex-Alabama governor Robert Bentley, his downward spiral came as a result of his vengeful wife and her devious plot to bring him down.
Robert and Dianne Bentley seemed to portray the perfect political couple, with their love story dating back to college. The two met when they were students at the University of Alabama and were brought together through their similar values and joint interests. In 1965, the two tied the knot and wasted no time in starting a family. They soon became a family of six as they had sons John Mark, Paul, Luke and Matthew. They looked to have a close-knit bond.
After serving in the U.S Air Force from a young age, Robert decided he wanted a complete change of direction and an occupation which better suited his role as a family man, rather than being tied down to the military. He went on to work as a dermatologist based in Tuscaloosa, Alabama and his expertise in the field immediately made him somewhat of a figurehead within the community. Robert’s dedication to his job led him to be named one of the “Best Doctors in America.”
While her husband was a highly respected doctor, Dianne also strived to work hard within her community and appear as kind-hearted, traditional and hard working. Dianne was an integral part of the Baptist Church and was often seen volunteering within the community, helping out in any way she could. Dianna loved to teach at Sunday school and led a women’s bible study group for over thirty years. Everything was perfect until their lives were thrust into politics.
The Bentley Campaign
The couple’s widely recognized occupations and names made them a natural choice to head towards a political career. In 1998, Bentley had an unsuccessful attempt running for the Alabama State Senate, losing out to Democrat Phil Poole by 58 votes. However, Robert had a successful campaign run in 2002 and was voted into the Alabama State House as a Republican Representative where was in office from 2003 until 2010. Immediately following this, Robert was elected the 53rd governor of Alabama.
Throughout each and every one of Robert’s campaigns, Dianne was his rock and stood by his side, campaigning and supporting his run. Robert was increasingly thankful for his wife and wrote a blog insisting that “she firmly believes that God has given her this opportunity to serve alongside her husband.” Despite Dianne’s religious beliefs and ethics, the events which followed seriously tested how far she would go to keep her pledge to serve by Roberts side.
When Robert Bentley ran for governor, he won with a considerable amount of votes. Bentley received over 58% of the statewide vote and won by a margin of 230,000 votes. These statistics made Robert record the largest margin for a Republican in an open-seat race in the history of Alabama. Moreover, in 2014, Bentley’s re-election campaign was won with the largest percentage of votes of any Republican in Alabama history. However, behind closed doors things weren’t as great as they seemed.
A year before re-election in 2013, Dianne began to grow suspicious of her husband’s relationship with his adviser Rebekah Mason. Due to their positions, Robert and Rebekah were forced to spend many hours together so naturally grew close. Nevertheless, Dianne knew her husband back to front having been with him for so many years, which is why she knew something was going on between the two of them. Dianne starting taking a closer look at the governor and his adviser.
Dianne was on to something when she began noticing that Mason was continuously contacting Robert outside of office hours and late at night, in particular. Moreover, Mason was temporarily living at the governor’s mansion, making the two closer than ever. Her living situation also ensured that Mason knew the different rooms in the mansion well and would be able to move around it without being caught. As time went on, the amount of texts to Robert began growing. Something was happening.
Politics and Affairs
Dianne’s concerns had not come from nowhere as there had been many past affair scandals in politics. The scenario of political co-workers having an inappropriate relationship had been seen in the past, most notably with President Bill Clinton and White House intern Monica Lewinsky. The President was caught having to defend himself for his extra-marital affair. Dianne’s suspicions were growing and she couldn’t hold it in much longer, she knew at some point she needed to confront her husband.
Dianne monitored the situation for a while before gathering enough information to challenge her husband on what was going on with his adviser. Unsurprisingly, Robert dismissed everything Dianne had come to speak to him about and disregarded every accusation she placed upon him. But Dianne didn’t need a full confession from her husband. She would soon be able to obtain every piece of information about the affair through her iPad which Robert had previously gifted her with.
Robert was not the most discreet of people and Dianne was in full view when her husband texted Rebekah “I can’t take my eyes off of you,” while they all attended the National Governor’s Association in Washington D.C. More evidence was popping up as Robert accidentally texted his wife saying “I love you Rebekah.” When Robert realized his monumental mistake, he quickly re-wrote the message with Dianne’s name. But it was too late, his wife already knew.
Robert was also completely unaware that his old iPad which he had given to Dianne was a state-issued device. The technology automatically synced messages from the governors personal cell phone to the iPad. Consequently, Dianne began gaining access to incriminating messages between the adulterous lovers. One message read “You look beautiful and feel so soft,” while others were more graphic. Dianne may not have been surprised but she was still humiliated and angry. She knew a divorce was imminent but there was more to be done.
Dianne Seeks Revenge
Dianne knew from the moment she found out about the affair that she wanted her husband to suffer the consequences of being an adulterous politician and knew that the press would love to report on the scandalous story. Before releasing all the details about their divorce, Dianne grabbed the iPad where all the flirtatious messages were stored and took screenshots of every message and kept them secretly before waiting for the perfect moment to release them.
A divorce of a political couple would of course make the news but the fact that it was due to an extramarital affair would make it 10 times bigger. Within two years of Dianne finding out about the affair, the Bentleys were divorced. In addition, the fact that Dianne had kept the receipts of Robert spending state money on Rebekah made it an external matter instead of a private affair. But would Dianne go so far to turn in her husband?
The use of state funds for an extramarital relationship was considered a serious breach of ethics and Robert had a lot of answering to do before he was stripped of his title and position in government. The circumstances of the affair had the potential for the governor to face legal charges and Dianne was fully aware of this. The governor’s wife was so furious and betrayed by her husband after all she had done for him that she started to speak about the affair publicly.
As it turned out, Dianne was not the only one who knew about the affair and caught onto what Robert and Rebekah had been up to. Some of the staff in the governors house were aware that the governor and his advisor were having a secret relationship, but later on when divorce proceedings began, the staff were all clued in and began whispering to their colleagues. However, the people who were oblivious was the public and the breaking news was about to shock them.
Last Piece Of The Puzzle
Dianne may have already had the screenshots of the messages between Robert and Rebekah, but she wanted to go one better and catch them. Dianne enlisted the help of her assistant Heather Hannah to hide her phone in the vicinity of her husband and leave it on record. Dianne informed her husband she was going on a long walk and within a minute, the governor took the opportunity to call his lover and he began expressing his love for her body.
Dianne had hit the jackpot with her evidence and she presented it to her son Paul, who immediately confronted his father on his reprehensible actions. With the first hand evidence unveiled, Robert had no choice but to admit that he was having an affair with Rebekah Mason. Paul then intimidated his father by expressing the consequences which were possible to follow. Scared and uncertain about his future, Robert began threatening his staff to keep their mouths shut about the affair. It wouldn’t stay quiet for much longer.
The one person who was subjected to the most abuse was Hannah Heather, the mastermind behind the recordings. When Robert found out that Heather was the culprit who would potentially turn his life upside down, he told the chief of staff she would “never work in the State of Alabama again” if she went public with the affair. Heather’s abuse continued and Robert began instructing his staff to vandalize her house and car. Things were getting out of control.
Robert began questioning everyone around him and believed that should the audio tapes leak, his political opponents would thrive at the chance to bring down the governor. The release of the tapes would result in Robert’s job being up for discussion, leaving space for a new governor. Subsequently, Robert went and instructed Law Enforcement Secretary, Spencer Collier, to open an investigation into an alleged leak. In a turn of events, Collier ended up being the instigator for the governors downfall.
The News Breaks
When Collier began looking into the alleged breach of ethics in 2016, the governor panicked at the prospect of his secrets coming out and fired Collier for his investigation which went against the governors wishes. Collier was furious at being sacked so decided to get his own revenge on his former boss and leak the details of the affair to the media. This scandal was something the Alabama House of Representatives could not ignore and they were forced to begin impeachment proceedings.
Revenge Is Sweet
Dianne had filed for divorce in 2015 and in 2016, she held all the evidence for the case which she handed over to aid the investigation. Through the screenshots and audio recordings, prosecutors were able to gather every piece of accurate information to hold against the disgraced governor. Moreover, staffers were brought in to testify against Robert but while some supported him and disregarded the charges, others were honest and told the true story of what they had seen.
Throughout the whole scandal, Dianne had kept her dignity and stayed quiet while all the personal events unraveled around her. However, her only public statement came in 2015 when she filed for divorce. She maintained she was “doing fine” and added, “I like to say that I once was first lady of Alabama and I’m not first anymore, but I’m still a lady, and I still want to represent the state of Alabama as a lady.” Locals showed her an outpouring of support.
Domestic Violence Claims
After the scandal came to light, Dianne revealed that she suffered emotional and mental abuse and her assistant Hannah Heather confirmed the abuse that was going on behind closed doors. Heather stated “Mrs. B and I talked about the governor treating her badly because she has low self-esteem and knows that she would not leave. She also said he emotionally and mentally abuses her and she is so embarrassed because that is her platform as First Lady.”
With all the evidence piling up against him, Robert had no choice by to resign from his position in April, 2016. Robert later pleaded guilty to the misuse of state funds but astonishingly denied all allegations of a physical affair. As part of the plea deal, Bentley accepted a lifetime ban from ever running for public office again in Alabama. The ex-governor was also given a year of probation and must complete a total of 100 hours of community service.
After everything Robert had gone through, many assumed he would disappear but this was not the case. It was reported that Bentley was welcomed back to Tuscaloosa with open arms where he intends to open a dermatology practice. He admitted he has become a local celebrity with everyone wanting pictures with him. He was heard stating “I’m the most recognized person in the state of Alabama.” His comments don’t sound like those of someone who has any regrets.
Dianne Moves On
As for Dianne, she moved on with her life but admitted it was a struggle at first. Speaking at a First Ladies’ Luncheon, she said “Personally, I am doing OK, the first year, I just became a recluse and didn’t get out. I was just in such pain and depression that I didn’t want to see anybody, especially media, who were trying to find me. But God is good.” Dianne proved her strength and courage as an independent woman who managed to beat her disgraced husband.