This post has been updated with the governor's comments Wednesday. Here's a full recap of what the governor has said about it.
Every once in a while — but far less often than most people think — politics appears to mirror Hollywood's dramatization of it rather than the other way around.
The affair allegations Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley (R) is facing down this week is one of those moments.
Here's the story: On Tuesday, the two-term governor fired the state's top cop. That same day, the now-fired top cop told AL.com that Bentley had been having an affair with one of his top advisers. And he said he could prove it.
The governor has denied affair rumors in the past, calling them "ridiculous." On Wednesday, he said this:
Gov. Robert Bentley of Alabama says he had inappropriate communications with a female aide, but he denies a physical relationship.
— Alan Blinder (@alanblinder) March 23, 2016
Bentley hasn't been able to shake that over the past year, whether in unsubstantiated blogs or in the halls of Alabama's capitol, there has been a rumor swirling he was having an affair with his chief adviser, Rebekah Caldwell Mason. (Mason is married, but Bentley's 50-year marriage officially ended this fall, an abrupt ending that Bentley has said shocked him.)
What follows next is a tale of furtive glances at dropped cellphones, secretly recorded audio tapes and political intrigue. Head over to AL.com to read the whole drama from reporter John Archibald, who broke the story. Below are four of the most eyebrow-raising details from Bentley's affair allegations, as alleged by Spencer Collier, the former head of the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency, to Archibald.
1) The dropped cellphone
In August 2014 — Aug. 2, to be exact — Collier told AL.com the governor was at a business conference when the governor apparently dropped his phone. A law enforcement official just so happened to see there was a text message of a sexual nature from Mason on the governor's phone. Collier said that the official reported what he saw to his then-boss, Bentley's former security officer.
The law enforcement official in question is actually now the state's top cop. And on Tuesday he wanted nothing to do with this affair allegation: "The allegation and implication" from the story "is completely false and without merit," he told AL.com.
2) The secretly taped conversation
Collier next told AL.com that one of the governor's family members had taped a conversation between the governor and Mason that confirms their relationship. The family member wanted an "intervention" to stop the affair, Collier explained.
Collier told AL.com the tape is explicit: "If we're gonna do what we did yesterday, we're going to have to lock that door," Mason allegedly tells the governor on the tape.
"The governor is heard replying with 'improper comments about her breasts and behind,'" AL.com reported.
3) The confrontation
Collier claims to know what's on the tape, he told AL.com, because after learning about the text message, Bentley's former security officer somehow obtained a copy of it and played it for him.
Collier told AL.com he later confronted the governor. Collier claimed the governor confirmed the relationship was going on and promised to end it. Collier said he reminded the governor he would be committing a felony if he used state property or money to carry it out.
4) A friendship gone awry
Collier also told AL.com he considered the governor a friend and father figure. Indeed, the two have known each other since they both served in Alabama's state House together.
But things have clearly soured amid broken promises and allegations of wrongdoing.
The governor put Collier on medical leave in February after news that Collier broke the governor's orders not to get involved in a court battle between state prosecutors and lawyers for Alabama's state House speaker, who is indicted on corruption allegations.
The new head of Alabama's law enforcement agency (the guy Collier claims saw the text message of a "sexual nature") began investigating possible wrongdoing at the agency under Collier's watch. On Tuesday, he announced the investigation found "a number of concerns, including the possible misuse of state funds."
Later that day, Bentley fired his former friend, Collier. And at some point during the day, Collier called the press to relay this Hollywood-esque story of how he found out his former friend, the governor, was having an alleged affair.
Not unlike the movies, at least just this once.