MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — A state helicopter was used to deliver Gov. Robert Bentley's forgotten wallet to him at the beach two years ago, but the governor said Thursday that he did not request the pricey delivery method.
It's the latest embarrassment for Bentley, who has been under fire following accusations that he had an affair with a high-ranking female staffer in his office. The accusations have led to efforts in the legislature to impeach the governor, who admitted making inappropriate remarks to the woman, but denied that he had a "physical affair" with her.
In response to the reports about the helicopter delivering his wallet, Bentley said he asked state law enforcement officials to get him the billfold that he had left in his hometown of Tuscaloosa, about a five-hour drive from his beach home in Fort Morgan.
But, he said, "I didn't know how they were going to do it."
"I did not request that a helicopter was used," Bentley told reporters following a state board of education meeting. "It sounds bad and looks bad, but I did not authorize that. ...They just got it to me as quickly as they could."
The governor said he needed the wallet for security reasons so he would have identification and also so he would have money to buy something to eat.
Bentley's comments came a day after Alabama Law Enforcement Secretary Stan Stabler confirmed reports that a helicopter had been used in 2014 to deliver the wallet — an action Stabler simultaneously defended and blamed on his predecessor, Spencer Collier.
Collier, for years the governor's friend and appointee, was fired last month, a day before he accused the governor of having the affair.
Collier denied on Wednesday that he was the one who approved the unusual delivery method.
"I've never authorized a flight for a wallet," he said in a brief telephone interview. Collier said Stabler and Bentley went around him to authorize the flight.
Stabler said the law enforcement agency often retrieves forgotten items for state officials they protect, so they can do their jobs. Collier said that is true, but that the items are usually delivered by car.