Back in August of 2015, Ohio Gov. John Kasich made a big deal out of being endorsed by Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley. Gov. Bentley now finds himself in boiling water as the result of his philandering with a female aide and an ethics investigation into that relationship and other violations of state law.
The thinking by Camp Kasich at the time was that nabbing Gov. Bentley’s endorsement that early in the game would “crack Dixie.” Reports of Bentley endorsing Kasich was good news, since Bentley didn’t endorse a Republican candidate for president in 2012.
Bentley was elected governor in Alabama in 2010, the same year Kasich became governor in Ohio. Mr. Bentley beat six other Republican candidates in the primary that year, then cruised to re-election in 2014 with about the same lopsided margin of victory Gov. Kasich enjoyed back home.
“I can’t quite put my finger on why I’m emotional about this day,” Kasich told a small gathering of supporters and mostly press at the Alabama Sports Hall of Fame, according to Al.com. “There is just something special about Alabama beyond (football coach) Bear Bryant. It’s a great state and it represents so much of the history of the south in America and the values we have here are reflected in the values we have in the heartland in Ohio.”
Bentley settled on why he became a fan of Kasich, saying, “Champions believe in something more than themselves. They believe in a cause.” The now embattled governor in the cross-hairs of a state ethics probe said people need someone who believes in the promise of a great country.
John Kasich crowed with pride after Bentley’s endorsement. “I’m headed from here to South Carolina and the first thing I’m going to tell them is guest what? I was just endorsed for president of the United States by the governor of Alabama. It makes a big difference.” It turned out that Bentley’s endorsement of Kasich didn’t make a big difference because Donald Trump crushed Kasich in both Alabama and South Carolina.
A review by the AP of the ethics findings against Bentley shows The Alabama Ethics Commission [AEC] found probable cause that Gov. Bentley violated state ethics and campaign finance law. The commission referred the matter to the Montgomery County district attorney for possible prosecution, the AP noted, even though Mr. Bentley has maintained he did nothing wrong.
The AEC found probable cause that Bentley used public resources, including “subordinate personnel, equipment and time all under his discretion or control to further his personal interests.” It found probable cause that Bentley violated state campaign law by using campaign funds to pay legal bills for an aide, Rebekah Caldwell Mason, with whom he’s alleged to have had sexual relations outside of his marriage. The AP reported that the AEC found probable cause that “Bentley improperly received a campaign contribution outside the allowable fundraising window” of 120 days after an election. “The commission found probable cause that Bentley improperly loaned his campaign money when he was not a candidate for office,” the AP reported.
Gov. Bentley is fighting back, trying to stop proceedings that could lead to his impeachment. The Alabama governor has refused to resign even though he could face criminal prosecution in the wake of findings by the AEC that he broke ethics and campaign law.
Not surprisingly, Gov. Kasich has said nothing about Bentley’s personal and campaign troubles. But Gov. Bentley isn’t the first bad partner Kasich has cozied up to. Mr. Kasich orchestrated a palace coup in Ohio by installing a close friend and former admitted influence peddler, Matt Borges, as state Republican chairman. In another example of choosing shady partners, Kasich and several of his top campaign officials are alleged to have orchestrated another political dirty trick that lead to Ohio Libertarian Party candidate Charlie Earl being pushed off the primary ballot to ensure the Ohio governor an easy and impressive victory, which cleared him for presidential candidate take off last year.
When Gov. Kasich returns to New Hampshire to celebrate his distant second place finish to Mr. Trump and push his new book about his 49-state losing campaign, don’t expect him to dredge up Gov. Bentley’s effusive words about him now that that Dixie governor is stewing in his own juices.
The blush is off the bloom for Gov. Kasich as media finally musters the gumption to take him on over his last terrible budget that was DOA, as Republican lawmakers sharpen their knives to better butcher it to meet their own needs.
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