Alabama deserves better than Bentley

By Wil Sorrell | Staff Columnist

I love this state. I love its people. I love this University. I love the way the leaves fall innocently on the Quad in the cool of autumn, the sweet, sweltering heat of the southern shores and the backwoods and backroads of the Black Belt. Don’t get me wrong; there’s plenty to hate: racial and educational injustices to which so many of us turn a blind eye every day, the ever-constant advocating for religious freedom as long as it’s not someone else’s religion and that cow college on the other side of the state, to name a few.

Most days, I focus on the positive. Most days, I’m proud to say that I’m an Alabamian.

Not today. Today, I am sad.

I’ve had conversations with friends who can’t tell me who the governor of Alabama is. While some see ignorance as bliss, I disagree.

Alabama should know Governor Robert Bentley, and we should know that we can do better.

Today, let’s not even consider his proposed excessive raid of the state education fund or his ill-advised opposition to Medicaid expansion which adversely affects many working citizens. Let’s focus on yesterday.

There is evidence that Governor Bentley had an affair while in office – and even in his office – with Rebekah Mason, his senior advisor. While judgment may seem to be the primal and innate urge with this discovery, the people of Alabama’s job is not to judge. Rather, we should examine. It’s easy to burn with anger at a man who would do such a thing after running as a GOP flag-bearer destined to secure and promote “family values” in the Sweet Home. That flame is a flicker. Let’s go deeper and see why this blaze should roar.

The man behind the allegations is former head of Alabama Law Enforcement Agency Spencer Collier. Bentley terminated Collier yesterday for supposedly misappropriating state funds, which, given the unfolding drama, sounds about as likely as Vanderbilt winning the SEC East. Collier had formerly been placed on medical leave following a sworn statement he made in the Hubbard prosecution; Bentley said he told him not to do it, and Collier claims that Bentley asked him to lie.

While this may appear as a simple he-said-he-said case, it is not. The audio recordings handed over to Yellowhammer today implicate the governor as a liar. Why does it matter?

First, it appears that Bentley fired an innocent man who told the truth. And if that man told the truth, then he is possibly telling the truth in saying that Mason’s influence made her a “de facto governor.” If Bentley used any state dollars in covering up the affair, it would be a felony. This is not simply an affair; this is injustice to the people 
of Alabama.

Governor Bentley has apologized for the recording, but he denies sexual activity. Mason has claimed the allegations of her influence are simply because of her gender, but she has not denied 
the affair.

I don’t believe him. I don’t feel that he’s given me any reason to believe him.

Tomorrow, the sun should rise again. The Quad will still shimmer in the rays of the light, and we will continue to fight to change the state for the better. But when our captain, our elected leader, the officer of our future plans, struggles and triumphs has failed us, it is a struggle to look to anything in the world around us for solace aside from the ever-stale “thank God for Mississippi” quip.

In 2018, we have a choice. Vote Red because it’s what we’ve always done, or vote for content of character and competency to lead us in integrity and growth.

Choose what you will, but I for one am tired of being 49th out of 50 and receiving a mammoth scandal for my trouble.

Will Sorrell is a senior majoring in finance. His column runs biweekly.

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