BIRMINGHAM, Ala (WIAT) — The former chief of staff for Dianne Bentley said she painfully had to share her suspicions that former Alabama Governor Robert Bentley was having an affair with one of his aides.
Heather Hannah said she never expected the events that would follow. The alleged affair became a focal point for a divorce and ethics investigation into former Governor Robert Bentley.
“I remember just trembling, and she was kind of shaking too, but everything we talked about, she recognized it as well, and we knew that there was a problem,” Hannah recalled.
Hannah said Dianne Bentley might as well be family. The two became very close during their time together in Montgomery.
According to Hannah, there were changes in the way the former governor treated his wife. After discussions with Dianne Bentley, Hannah said the “voice record” app was used to capture intimate conversations between the former governor and his aide.
The recordings, Hannah said, were never meant to be for anyone else.
“We thought maybe if we called him out on it, he’ll be like, ‘Oh, what am I doing?’ and I guess kind of wake up and come back to who he always had been,” Hannah said.
Eventually, the files became part of the ethics investigation. A state report alleged the former governor threatened Hannah if she told anyone.
“Honestly I wasn’t afraid of him because I knew what I was doing and who I was standing for was right,” said Hannah.
Hannah said her car was painted with profanity, and a rock was thrown through her window. It’s unclear who was responsible.
“You can’t be shaken by those kinds of things and it can’t make you too afraid to tell the truth,” said Hannah.
Former Governor Bentley resigned Monday, after pleading guilty to misdemeanor charges related to the investigation. Hannah described the day as emotional, and the end as disappointing.
She recalled the final conversation she had with former governor Bentley.
“I just expressed to him my disappointment in the fact that, ‘Hey, I started working for you in college and I believed in who you were,” said Hannah.
Hannah said she was a strong supporter of the Bentley campaign and family. She wants Alabama to remember positives from the administration, like work on domestic violence campaigns and improvements to foster care programs.
After a dark couple of years, Hannah is hopeful former Governor Bentley and Dianne will find new beginnings.
“I spoke with her and she was in as good of spirits as you could hope for when you’re having to relive this sad time in your life,” said Hannah.
Hannah no longer works in politics.