By Kent Faulk | al.com
Kay Ivey sworn in as Alabama’s new Governor
Within a span of minutes, Alabama’s lieutenant governor catapulted from a position of largely ceremonial duties to the state’s top political job. But new Republican Gov. Kay Ivey has decades of experience working in, and around, state politics. Ivey was the second woman to serve as Governor of Alabama.
After she was sworn in Monday, the 72-year-old Ivey called it a dark day in Alabama but one of opportunity. “I ask for your help and patience as we together steady the ship of state and improve Alabama’s image,” she said.
Ivey grew up in Wilcox County, the same rural area where U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions was raised, and the two attended high school together.
She graduated from Auburn University in 1967 and has worked as a classroom teacher, banker, administrator in higher education and assistant director of the state’s industrial recruitment agency.
She worked for then-Gov. Fob James in early 1980s, serving as first as executive assistant for social services and then as assistant director of the Alabama Development Office. “She would persevere to always get the job done at a high level. She always wanted to know the details,” James said. “She’s got a lot of political know-how by now.”
As state treasurer, Ivey oversaw the Alabama Prepaid Affordable College Tuition Plan, which was heavily invested in stocks. Turmoil on Wall Street caused its assets to plunge as tuition costs rose to the point of the plan becoming insolvent. Critics blamed her for the demise, but Ivey’s defenders said she had no control over Wall Street and tuition costs.
As the Senate’s president and presiding officer as lieutenant governor, Ivey acted as a moderator who didn’t offer opinions on legislation but instead directed the procedural flow in her signature honey-dripping drawl, cutting off senators whose speeches have gone on too long or namedropping distinguished guests in the gallery.
Bentley makes plea deal and resigns
Former Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley doesn’t get a security detail or any other retirement benefits and can’t run again for public office under the plea deal he worked out with prosecutors to keep from being charged with any serious crimes.
Bentley resigned Monday before he pleaded guilty to failing to file a major campaign contribution report regarding a $50,000 personal loan he made in November 2015 to his campaign but did not report until January of this year. He also pleaded guilty to a charge of converting campaign contributions to personal use for paying $8,912 in legal fees for his senior political adviser – and love interest – Rebekah Mason.
A judge sentenced Bentley to 30 days in jail but suspended it and ordered the former governor to serve a year of probation. He will also have to do 100 hours of community service, as a physician.
Bentley, 74, agreed not to seek or serve again in any public office under his plea deal with the Alabama Attorney General’s Office.
The two charges Bentley pleaded guilty to Monday were both misdemeanor campaign violations and would not otherwise have prevented him from serving in public office, said John Carroll, professor at the Cumberland School of Law.
The plea agreement appeared to be straightforward, Carroll said. “The prosecutors seemed like they wanted to get it done and put it behind the state,” he said.