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Bentley Ordered Law Enforcement to Target Critics

Bill Britt



By Bill Britt
Alabama Political Reporter

MONTGOMERY—Gov. Robert Bentley pressured law enforcement officers to use federal and state resources to target those critical of his relationship with senior advisor Rebekah Caldwell Mason, according to high ranking officers and staff.

In an effort to find potentially damaging information on those who spoke out against the couple, Bentley instructed top law enforcement agents to investigate private citizens, in direct conflict with the law, said those close to the matter (These individual spoke on background to because of a criminal investigation surrounding this and other matters).

Two individuals with detailed knowledge of the incidents say Bentley ordered the use of the National Crime Information Center, (NCIC) and the Law Enforcement Tactical System (LETS) to find any incriminating evidence that might be used against attorney Donald V. Watkins, and Legal Schnauzer blogger, Roger Shuler.


These powerful databases serve as a “Google-style” search engine for law enforcement, allowing agencies to search the most private aspects of a person’s life. A search on these sites can produce social security numbers, drivers licenses numbers, property ownership, criminal history, and more. “If you really know now to use these resources you can turn a person life upside down,” said a former lawman.

Former ALEA staff and attorneys refused to cooperate with Bentley. However, some of those same individuals are not certain that new ALEA Chief Stan Stabler would be as cautious saying, “Everyone is a potential target now that Stabler is part of the cover up.”

Bentley ousted Trustees aligned  Watkins from the Alabama State University (ASU) Board in in 2014. The two warred over the Governor’s authority to move these Trustees.

In an interview with Watkins said, “I knew he was targeting me, I have known for years that Bentley was upset by my public criticism of his administration and his policies.”

Watkins said Bentley first targeted him in 2013 using banking regulators: “We came under excessive regulatory review and are still under excessive regulatory review,” said Watkins.

He said in 2014 Bentley asked the SEC to investigate his businesses, even through they are not under SEC regulation. “That investigation went nowhere,” said Watkins.

But again, in 2015, Bentley sought a criminal investigation, according to Watkins, “I provided the investigators with all the documentation and that case was close within 30 days.”

“Every case started with a hint or a suggestion of impropriety on my part by Bentley’s Office and each case went nowhere,” said Watkins.

ALEA was twice asked to conduct a criminal investigation into Watkins, this has been confirmed by law enforcement officers.

Watkins has announced he was sending a letter to US Attorney General Loretta Lynch calling for an investigation into Bentley actions.

Watkins began writing a regular column posting incriminating information about Bentley and his relationship with Mason on Facebook.

In a four part series entitled, “Forbidden Love – Robert Bentley’s Secret Love Affair,” Watkins wrote in detail about events which have now been confirmed by former State Law Enforcement Chief Spencer Collier and tapes discovered by’s John Archibald.

In September 2015, Watkins reported, “The First Lady overheard the Governor’s steamy love talk during some of his private phone calls with Rebekah. She also read his text messages, which graphically depicted the nature and scope of the love affair between her husband and his paramour. No further proof of his infidelity was needed.”

Watkins charged that Bentley formed Alabama Council for Excellent Government, a 501(c)(4) non-profit corporation to finance his paramour Mason stating, “Bentley’s former legal advisor Cooper Shattuck formed the Council at Bentley’s request. The stated purpose of the organization is to ‘support Governor Bentley in his efforts to solve real problems and to make Alabama greater, stronger and more excellent for all the hardworking men and women who call this great state our home.’ In reality, the Council is a slush fund that was set up to (a) fund Bentley’s love affair with Rebekah while concealing payments to her from the view of public oversight and accountability, and (b) stash money for life with Rebekah after the governor’s divorce from Mrs. Bentley.”

Former Bentley administration insiders say Bentley was so inflamed by Watkins’ reports that he would rant about using his power as Chief Magistrate to shut Watkins mouth and ruin his reputation.

Watkins also said, “Bentley also made sure that Rebekah Mason had unfettered access to State trooper transportation, the Governor’s mansion (at all times of the night), the State airplane, the Winton Blount mansion in Montgomery (which was donated to the State), and to any other state resource she needed to make herself fully available to the Governor for his personal pleasure.”

He also reported that, “Wendell Ray Lewis, the former head of the Governor’s security detail, took an early retirement from his job because he could no longer, in good conscience, watch and facilitate Bentley’s betrayal of Dianne, as he romanced Rebekah. In the end, Lewis was loyal to Dianne.”

Lewis has not responded to request for information, but it is believed that he will cooperate with any criminal investigation.

The Alabama Political Reporter has already confirmed the US Department of Justice is investigating the firings at ALEA, and if actions against Collier and others were part of a cover-up orchestrated by Bentley and Mason.

Shuler, on his site Legal Schnauzer, has written numerous articles on Bentley and Mason. In an August 2015 post he wrote, “Rebekah Caldwell Mason, a married mother of three from Bentley’s home base of Tuscaloosa, was the governor’s mistress in an affair that sources say raises a number of possible legal issues–including use of the state jet and a state trooper’s services for personal reasons that had nothing to do with Bentley’s official role.” He also wrote, “[S]ources say, quickly became more than just a communications director to Bentley. Their affair became so widely known that it diluted any moral authority the governor might have had. He’s been impotent as governor for at least the last six months,” one source told Legal Schnauzer. “People have been going into his office and saying, ‘Do what I want or I’m going to play the girlfriend card.’”

While the media’s and public’s attention has been primary focused on the alleged affair, Bentley’s real problems are the issues before law enforcement.


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House passes General Fund Budget

Brandon Moseley



By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter

The Alabama House of Representatives passed the state General Fund Budget on Tuesday.

The General Fund Budget for the 2019 fiscal year is Senate Bill 178. It is sponsored by Sen. Trip Pittman, R-Montrose. State Rep. Steve Clouse, R-Ozark, carried the budget on the House floor. Clouse chairs the House Ways and Means General Fund Committee.

Clouse said, “Last year we monetized the BP settlement money and held over $97 million to this year.”


Clouse said that the state is still trying to come up with a solution to the federal lawsuit over the state prisons. The Governor’s Office has made some progress after she took over from Gov. Robert Bentley. The supplemental we just passed added $30 million to prisons.

The budget adds $50 million to the Department of Corrections.

Clouse said that the budget increased the money for prisons by $55,680,000 and includes $4.8 million to buy the privately-owned prison facility in Perry County.

Clouse said that the budget raises funding for the judicial system and raises the appropriation for the Forensic Sciences to $11.7 million.

The House passed a committee substitute so the Senate is either going to have to concur with the changes made by the House or a conference committee will have to be appointed. Clouse told reporters that he hoped that it did not have to go to conference.

Clouse said that the budget had added $860,000 to hire more Juvenile Probation Officers. After talking to officials with the court system that was cut in half in the amendment. The amendment also includes some wording the arbiters in the court lawsuit think we need.

The state General Fund Budget, SB178, passed 98-1.

Both budgets have now passed the Alabama House of Representatives.

The 2019 fiscal year begins on Oct. 1, 2018.

In addition to the SGF, the House also passed a supplemental appropriation for the current 2018 budget year. SB175 is also sponsored by Pittman and was carried by Clouse on the floor of the House.

SB175 includes $30 million in additional 2018 money for the Department of Corrections. The Departmental Emergency Fund, the Examiners of Public Accounts, the Insurance Department and Forensic Sciences received additional money.

Clouse said, “We knew dealing with the federal lawsuit was going to be expensive. We are adding $80 million to the Department of Corrections.”

State Representative Johnny Mack Morrow, R-Red Bay, said that state Department of Forensics was cut from $14 million to $9 million. “Why are we adding money for DA and courts if we don’t have money for forensics to provide evidence? if there is any agency in law enforcement or the court system that should be funded it is Forensics.”

The supplemental 2018 appropriation passed 80 to 1.

The House also passed SB203. It was sponsored by Pittman and was carried in the House by State Rep. Ken Johnson, R-Moulton. It raises securities and registration fees for agents and investment advisors. It increases the filing fees for certain management investment companies. Johnson said that those fees had not been adjusted since 2009.

The House also passed SB176, which is an annual appropriation for the Coalition Against Domestic Violence. The bill requires that the agency have an operations plan, audited financial statement, and quarterly and end of year reports. SB176 is sponsored by Pittman and was carried on the House floor by State Rep. Elaine Beech, D-Chatham.

The House passed Senate Bill 185 which gives state employees a cost of living increase in the 2019 budget beginning on October 1. It was sponsored by Sen. Clyde Chambliss, R-Prattville and was being carried on the House floor by state Rep. Dimitri Polizos, R-Montgomery.

Polizos said that this was the first raise for non-education state employees in nine years. It is a 3 percent raise.

SB185 passed 101-0.

Senate Bill 215 gives retired state employees a one time bonus check. SB215 is sponsored by Senator Gerald Dial, R-Lineville, and was carried on the House floor by state Rep. Kerry Rich, R-Guntersville.

Rich said that retired employees will get a bonus $1  for every month that they worked for the state. For employees who retired with 25 years of service that will be a $300 one time bonus. A 20-year retiree would get $240 and a 35-year employee would get $420.

SB215 passed the House 87-0.

The House passed Senate Bill 231, which is the appropriation bill increase amount to the Emergency Forest Fire and Insect and Disease Fund. SB231 is sponsored by Sen. Steve Livingston, R-Scottsboro, and was carried on the House floor by state Rep. Kyle South, R-Fayette.

State Rep. Elaine Beech, D-Chathom, said, “Thank you for bringing this bill my district is full of trees and you never know when a forest fire will hit.

SB231 passed 87-2.

The state of Alabama is unique among the states in that most of the money is earmarked for specific purposes allowing the Legislature little year-to-year flexibility in moving funds around.

The SGF includes appropriations for the Alabama Medicaid Agency, the courts, the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency, the Alabama Department of Corrections, mental health, and most state agencies that are no education related. The Alabama Department of Transportation gets their funding mostly from state fuel taxes.

The Legislature also gives ALEA a portion of the gas taxes. K-12 education, the two year college system, and all the universities get their state support from the education trust fund (ETF) budget. There are also billions of dollars in revenue that are earmarked for a variety of purposes that does not show up in the SGF or ETF budgets.

Examples of that include the Public Service Commission, which collects utility taxes from the industries that it regulates. The PSC is supported entirely by its own revenue streams and contributes $13 million to the SGF. The Secretary of State’s Office is entirely funded by its corporate filing and other fees and gets no SGF appropriation.

Clouse warned reporters that part of the reason this budget had so much money was due to the BP oil spill settlement that provided money for the 2018 budget and $97 million for the 2019 budget. Clouse said they elected to make a $13 million repayment to the Alabama Trust fund that was not due until 2020 but that is all that was held over for 2020.

Clouse predicted that the Legislature will have to make some hard decisions about revenue in next year’s session.


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Day Care bill delayed for second time on Senate floor, may be back Thursday

Sam Mattison



By Samuel Mattison
Alabama Political Reporter

The day care bill, which would license certain day care centers in Alabama, was once again delayed on the state Senate floor after one lawmaker requested more information.

Its brief appearance Tuesday ended with state Sen. Gerald Dial, R-Lineville, saying a compromise had not yet been worked out with the bill’s detractors.

Alabama’s Senate has been hesitant to act on the legislation because of complaints of state Sen. Shay Shelnutt, R-Trussville, who has been an opponent of the bill since its introduction last year. The bill’s delay on Tuesday marks the second time its been taken off the Senate’s agenda.


The bill has had a rocky time in this year’s session, but the bill’s sponsor state Rep. Pebblin Warren, D-Tuskegee, said she is still confident about its passage out of the Legislature.

Warren, D-Tuskegee, filed the bill this session with the support of influential lawmakers including Gov. Kay Ivey, who told reporters last year that she though all day cares should be licensed.

Mainly sparked by the death of 5-year-old boy in the care of a unlicensed day care worker, the bill had great momentum coming into this year’ session.

Despite the growing support from lawmakers, Religious groups had concerns that the bill would increase state-sponsored reach into religious day cares in churches and non-profit groups.

Spearheading the dissenters was Alabama Citizens Action Program, a conservative religious-based PAC.

Warren, proponents, and ALCAP announced a compromise to the bill while it was still in the Alabama House.

Announced by ALCAP originally, the new bill was a weaker version in that it did not require that all day cares in the state be regulated. Instead, religious-based day cares would only need to be registered if they received federal funds. At a Senate committee meeting in February, Warren said a similar requirement was about to come from federal law in Congress.

The bill moved through the House in a overwhelming vote in favor of the proposal and passed unanimously out of a Senate committee a few weeks ago.

Warren, speaking to reporters after its passage from the House, said she was unsure if the bill would encounter resistance in the upper chamber.

It was the Senate that killed the daycare bill last year amid a cramped last day where senators took the bill off the floor. The bill may face similar complications this year, as lawmakers seem to be preparing to adjourn within a few weeks.

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Fantasy sports bill fails on Senate floor

Sam Mattison



By Samuel Mattison
Alabama Political Reporter

Would-be Fantasy Sports players in Alabama will have to wait to legally play in the state following a Senate vote on Tuesday.

The Alabama Senate decisively killed a bill to exempt fantasy sports from the state’s prohibition on gambling.

Not even entertaining a debate on the Senate floor, the proposal was killed during a vote for the Budget Isolation Resolution, which is usually a formality vote preluding a debate.


Fantasy sports are contests where participants select players from real teams to compete on fantasy teams using the real-world players’ stats.

Since 2016, the practice has been illegal in Alabama following a legal decision by the Attorney General’s Office that categorized it as gambling.

The bill’s sponsor, state Sen. Paul Sanford, R-Huntsville, predicted the bill’s failure during a committee meeting two weeks ago, where the bill passed unanimously.

Sen. Paul Sanford speaks to reporters after a Senate Committee meeting on Feb. 28, 2018. (Samuel Mattison/APR)

Speaking to reporter’s after the committee meeting, Sanford said the decision to file the bill was mainly a philosophical belief that the practice shouldn’t be illegal.

Sanford, a fantasy sports player before its ban, said that fantasy sports are a way to bring people closer together and not a means to win money. The Huntsville senator is not seeking re-election.

The bill’s failure in the Senate follows its trajectory last year too. A similar version of the bill, also sponsored by Sanford, failed in the Senate during the final days of the 2017 Legislative Session.

Since Sanford is retiring, it is unclear if the bill will even come back next session, or if it will even have a Senate sponsor.

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Bentley Ordered Law Enforcement to Target Critics

by Bill Britt Read Time: 5 min