"I love many member of my staff," Alabama Governor Robert Bentley said Wednesday, during a hastily scheduled press conference. The controversial Republican was not defending his decision to give members of his cabinet an 80 percent raise while signing a bill barring Alabama cities from raising their minimum wages at all.
Bentley was, however, defending himself from allegations of a sex scandal with one of his top aides. Acknowledging that he had made "inappropriate" advances and remarks to an aide, Bentley denied to reporters that he ever had an affair.
"At times in the past, have I said things that I should not have said? Absolutely, that’s what I’m saying today," Bentley admitted Wednesday, apologizing to the people of Alabama.
"I'm apologizing for the things that I said," Bentley said, "whatever's been reported."
What had been reported, by the Birmingham News, was an explicit audio tape of Bentley making sexually suggestive comments to his top political adviser Rebekah Caldwell Mason, that actually had not been reported yet. After Bentley's press conference, the Birmingham News published the tape.
"You know what, when I stand behind you and I put my arms around you, and I put my hands on your breasts, and I put my hands on you ... and pull you real close ... Hey, I love that too, putting my hands under you," Bentley was recorded saying to a woman, allegedly Mason, on the phone. "I love you. I love to talk to you. I do. ... But baby, lemme tell you what we’re gonna have to do tonight: Start locking the door. ... If we’re gonna do what we did the other day, we’re gonna have to start locking the door.”
The recording was reportedly made in 2014 and Bentley has been under intense scrutiny from Alabama Law Enforcement Secretary Spencer Collier who has long accused him of having an affair with Mason. Bentley's wife filed for divorce seven months ago.
"It is not a physical relationship making those statements," Bentley argued on Wednesday, adding, "I love many members of my staff. In fact all the members of my staff. Do I love some more than others? Absolutely."
Given Bentley's half-ass apology and continued denial of what isn't explicitly proven by the audio recording, Birmingham News columnist John Archibald explained the paper's decision to publish the explicit tapes in an interview with MSNBC's Rachel Maddow on Wednesday. Watch and listen to the tapes below, via MSNBC: