Republican Gov. Robert Bentley of Alabama and a female member of his staff have been expelled from the membership of the The First Baptist Church of Tuscaloosa, the latest in a string of responses to the governor’s alleged extramarital affair.
Recordings dating back to August 2014 featuring Bentley, who was a deacon in the church, telling his political adviser Rebekah Mason he loves her were released on March 28, prompting the church's response, according to WFLA. Bentley is also under investigation by the Alabama Ethics Commission under State Auditor Jim Ziegler, according to Christian Today.
"The governor continues to disgrace the state of Alabama, and in my official capacity as state auditor, I am required to report these suspected violations," Ziegler said, according to Christian Today. "It is clear that he is misleading the people of the state about the nature of his relationship, but it is also clear that Ms. Mason is required to either be classified as a public official, or file as a lobbyist, in her capacity as an adviser who is paid by an outside source."
Bentley has agreed to cooperate with the investigation, but denies having a physical relationship with Mason. At a March 30 press conference, he apologized for the content of the recordings, although he said he had “never done anything illegal.”
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"Two years ago I made a mistake,” Bentley said at the conference, according to Christian Today. “ I have [apologized] many times to my family. I have [apologized] to the family of Mrs. Mason. I would now like to [apologize] to the people of Alabama. I ask them to forgive me.”
In the tapes, which were recorded by Bentley’s ex-wife Dianne, Bentley is heard telling Mason that he loves her fourteen times. However, when asked if he was in love with her, Bentley denied direct involvement.
"I love many members of my staff, in fact, all the members of my staff,” Bentley said. “Do I love some more than others? Absolutely."