The Governor of the US state of Alabama Robert Bentley has resigned after state lawmakers began impeachment proceedings linked to his affair with a senior aide.
The governor of the conservative southern US state pleaded guilty in an agreement with prosecutors on Monday to two misdemeanor campaign violations.
The guilty pleas were part of an agreement with prosecutors that called for him to step down, said Ellen Brooks, special prosecutor appointed by the state Attorney General Steve Marshall to investigate Bentley.
"I have decided it is time for me to step down as Alabama governor," said Bentley at a news conference in the state capital of Montgomery, adding that his service "was a calling that God placed on my life."
Bentley, 74, said he would work with his replacement, Lieutenant Governor Kay Ivey, who was sworn in as governor about an hour after his resignation.
Ivey, a Republican, becomes the second woman to serve as Alabama's governor after Lurleen Wallace, wife of George Wallace, who served from January 1967 until her death in May 1968.
The Alabama Ethics Commission last week found Bentley probably violated ethics and campaign finance laws after it completed an investigation into allegations that he used public funds to conceal his relationship with Rebekah Mason, a senior adviser who later resigned.
It accused Bentley of ordering law enforcement officers to track down recordings that suggested he had had an affair with Mason and accused him of retaliating against an official who discovered the relationship.
Bentley has denied having a physical relationship with Mason, who is married, and had repeatedly vowed not to resign, saying he had done nothing illegal. His marriage of 50 years also ended as the scandal unfolded.
His exit from government and guilty pleas followed mounting calls for his resignation, especially after a report that was made public on Friday said he had fostered “an atmosphere of intimidation” and compelled state employees to help him cover up his relationship with Ms. Mason.
(Source: News agencies)