With Sex Scandal, Alabama Governor Loses Moral, Financial Authority on HBCUs

Alabama A&M, Alabama State and Tuskegee may be an obstruction to Alabama Governor Robert Bentley’s budget aspirations for the University of Alabama and Auburn University, but they should no longer be a target for his moral or legal bullying.

Bentley is caught in the midst of a firestorm better suited for Shondaland Thursdays than the daily Bible Belt politics in review. Since news broke of his alleged affair with a political adviser, and his effort to fire staff and state executives with knowledge of the extramarital relationship, HBCU supporters have not been at the forefront of Alabama residents calling for Bentley’s immediate resignation.

And they should be, until Bentley has cleared his office and left the building.

Robert Bentley isn’t the first politician to sidestep in the name of love or to be caught doing it, but he is one of the few politicians to have an active agenda in disrupting HBCU leadership and operations. Over several years, Bentley has used his guaranteed seat on the boards of AAMU and ASU, his power of board appointment, and his discretion to use the Office of the State Auditor to chronically seek and exaggerate financial discrepancies at the schools; all to destabilize leadership and public confidence in the black colleges.

Now the auditor is on Bentley, and the state’s pursuit of the governor and his side jawn is eerily reminiscent of Bentley’s efforts to throw out Alabama State trustees, to have a vice-president at Alabama A&M arrested and arraigned, and to have AAMU President Andrew Hugine at the center of audit findings which pale in comparison to findings at Alabama and Auburn.

So how long will it take before HBCU alumni in the state formally call for Bentley’s ouster? How long will it take for us to notice the parallels between Bentley’s administration and that of Richard Nixon, which used corrupt social tactics through “the War on Drugs” to disrupt black families and community solvency?

If white people, those now and formerly in power, are telling the state of Alabama that its top executive is a lying, stealing crook driven by sex and greed, are we to assume that his failings only surfaced in personal affairs, and not those involving HBCU development? As tax payers and concerned citizens, don’t we have a say on this betrayal of public trust and resources?

Or does it only matter when HBCUs are front and center on Shondaland Thursdays?