LIMESTONE COUNTY, Ala. - Alabama Governor Robert Bentley is pushing forward with public appearances, promoting his prison reform plan as well as Pre-K education.
He's trying like crazy to keep the focus on things that would be newsworthy any other time. They are newsworthy. The questions just aren't centered around prisons or education, though.
Monday, Gov. Bentley made two stops in north Alabama, first visiting Limestone Correctional Facility to meet with prison officials. Limestone is a maximum security prison designed to house 1,628 inmates, but the current population there is 2,169. He says the Alabama Prison Transformation Act will provide four modern regional facilities.
He then visited Madison City Schools' First Class Pre-K Center. He said the two stops go hand in hand, because if children get a good start in life, they're more likely to stay on the straight and narrow.
Despite his push to keep the attention on funding for prison reform, Bentley continues to be hit with questions about his relationship with Rebekah Caldwell Mason, his former chief aide.
Bentley was firm with his answer to questions on Monday, as he tries to put this behind him.
"I personally have addressed this issue. I addressed this tape that came out, that was recorded three years ago. I have addressed that. I have addressed the issues related to that. Those issues have been taken care of long ago, but it has just been made public, just recently and I have to address them again. First, I've asked God to forgive me, because that's the most important thing, because I want back in his fellowship. And so, I've asked God to forgive me. But I've asked other people, to again, forgive me, and I've already done that. I have truly asked the people of this state, that are the most loving, and the best people in the world, I have asked them to forgive me.
You know, it's mine. I own it. I own it. I did it. I point no fingers at anybody else. I make no excuses for that. I own my problem. It's not your problem. You have other problems. It's my problem and I have to deal with that. So I have humbly opened myself up to the people of this state and I have asked them to forgive me and let me continue to do the things that they elected me for, twice, and that's to make their lives better. And that's what I'm going to do.
"This has been addressed a long time ago. It really has... I've put it in the rear view mirror. Others have not."
"It's one of those things I take full control of. I take full... it's me. I did it. I did it. That's why I ask the people of this state to forgive me because they are a forgiving people and they know God's grace."