Bentley says he was best ‘governor Alabama’s ever had by far’

Published 8:28 pm Tuesday, July 18, 2017

BIRMINGHAM (AP) — Former Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley is giving his time in office fantastic reviews three months after he pleaded guilty to criminal charges and resigned.

“I’m the best governor Alabama’s ever had by far,” Bentley told WVTM-TV in an interview.

Bentley, 74, pleaded guilty to misdemeanor campaign finance charges in April and resigned in an agreement with prosecutors as legislative impeachment hearings began in Montgomery.

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The one-time Baptist deacon was swept up in a sex scandal after recordings surfaced of him making suggestive remarks to a female aide before his divorce. The impeachment hearings would have looked in part on whether Bentley coerced staff to help hide the relationship.

In the interview, Bentley blamed political opponents and bad legal advice for his departure.

“They took advantage of some personal things … and tried to get rid of me,” he said. “There’s a lot more to this.”

Bentley, a little-known state representative who came out of nowhere to win the governor’s office in 2010, said he accomplished more in seven years than the state’s five previous governors. That would include Gov. Jim Folsom Jr., who is widely credited with launching the state’s automotive industry by helping lure Mercedes-Benz to Alabama.

Bentley is a doctor, and he has returned to practicing dermatology in Tuscaloosa since quitting in April. He was replaced as governor by Lt. Gov. Kay Ivey, who has terminated some advisory panels created by her fellow Republican.

Alabama is now being run by special interests, Bentley said, adding that “so many of the things that I think really benefit the state” have been dismantled since he quit.

“Had people just left us alone Alabama would have been a lot better off,” he said.

Ivey declined comment on Bentley’s remarks during an interview with The Associated Press on Tuesday.