MONTGOMERY, Ala. – Disgraced Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley has resigned on the first day of his impeachment hearings.

Earlier, the now former governor was booked by the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office after prosecutors in the Attorney General’s office filed charges, and County records show a mugshot photo listing two.

Last week, the Alabama Ethics Commission found reason to believe Bentley committed four crimes, all felonies. With his resignation, Bentley is now expected to plea to lesser charges.

“The clouds have cleared, and Alabama can make a fresh start,” State Auditor Jim Zeigler told SylacaugaNews.com. “I filed the first ethics complaint on March 25th of last year.”

Zeigler had been unrelenting in his calls for Bentley to step down. Early allegations of impropriety followed a divorce petition by Bentley’s wife of 50 years and concerns raised by fired law enforcement secretary Spencer Collier, who told of an inappropriate relationship between the governor and a senior policy adviser.

“We really have Representative Ed Henry to thank for helping push this to conclusion,” Zeigler added. In 2016, Henry filed a resolution calling for Bentley’s impeachment over alleged misuse of state funds.

Lt. Gov. Kay Ivey, 72, will succeed Bentley as the state’s second female governor. The first, Lurleen Wallace, took office in 1967 in support of her husband, Gov. George Wallace, who was prevented from seeking reelection due to constitutional term limitations.

“Alabama is truly at a crossroads,” Ivey told a joint Kiwanis-Rotary Club lunch in Sylacauga last Nov. 8 as she lamented budgetary challenges, particularly in light of the failed lottery bill, the BP settlement fund, and legislative inaction. “Our future is at stake, and we have some decisions that must be made.”

Rather than continuing to “kick the can own the road,” Ivey stressed the need for the house and senate to focus on “tough decisions” and “true and real budget reform”.

Lee Perryman for SylacaugaNews.com | © 2017, SylacaugaNews.com/Marble City Media LLC. All Rights Reserved.