By Bill Britt
Alabama Political Reporter
In April 2015, then Lt. Gov. Kay Ivey was admitted to a hospital in Colorado due to a series of stroke-like attacks, according to two high-ranking former government officials. Ivey had flown to the Aerospace State Association Annual Meeting held in Colorado Springs that year. She was accompanied by Chief of Staff Steve Pelham and Security Officer Thomas Andrew “Drew” Brooks.
After several attacks, Ivey was taken to the hospital where she allegedly spent four days recovering, before returning to Alabama. According to reports, Pelham threatened Trooper Brooks, not to report the incident to anyone. However, under security protocol, Brooks was bound to tell his supervisor, Jack Clark. The event generated buzz around ALEA but was quashed according to those at the agency at the time of the incident. “We all knew what happened, but because she was scheduled to be out of town for the conference, it was easy for them [Ivey’s people] to keep a lid on it,” recalled a former Trooper.
“Pelham wanted it scrubbed,” said another former government official, “and was determined not to let it leak.”
Transient Ischemic Attacks (TIA) are often referred to as “Mini Stokes.” However, the Stroke Association points out that these temporary episodes are more appropriately called “warning stroke…because they can indicate the likelihood of a coming stroke.” About 1 in 3 people who has a TIA goes on to experience a subsequent stroke.”
Concerns about Ivey’s health were widely circulated by her security personnel, which saw reoccurring episodes of slurred speech, incoherent ramblings, and a inability to focus for extended periods, according to former troopers.
Brooks’ superiors asked if he needed to be relieved of his duties in Colorado, but he chose to remain at his post. Brooks received a travel reimbursement of around $1300, paid out in May 2015.
The Governor’s office was asked to comment on this report, specifically if there had been any reoccurrences of the episodes since 2015. As of press time, they said they were checking.
Nearly half a dozen individuals in Ivey’s Capital orbit expressed concern over Ivey’s health. They also believe the Governor is being “managed” by Pelham and legal counsel, Bryan Taylor.
“So tight is Pelham’s rein on the Governor that he’s moved his office right next to hers,” said a staffer. Traditionally the Governor’s Chief of Staff works in a separate office in the North Wing down the hall form the Governor.
These individuals who asked not to be named for fear of reprisal told APR that Pelham and Taylor are making the calls and Ivey is only marginally in the loop. “Pelham acts as if he’s the Governor with his nose constantly in the air,” said a well-placed person inside the administration. “If you want an answer, you go Pelham or Taylor,” said another.
Those with knowledge of Ivey’s recent appearance at the Republican Senate Caucus meeting this week say Ivey gave a short meandering presentation concerning legislation she is supporting. Caucus members would not confirm to APR what was said in the meeting, but her behavior was described as “shaky and rambling.”
Pelham and Taylor are keeping Ivey’s public appearance to a minimum, limiting her speaking engagements to only a few minutes, according to those within the administration. In the last two weeks, Ivey gave short remarks at the Community College Board meeting and at the Board of Education. At each session, Ivey’s remarks were short, scripted and her security team hustled her from the events quickly after her speech.
Neighbors say Ivey spends a good deal of her time at her home in Old Cloverdale, and other government officials report she is often phoning people from her residence.
Those around Ivey on regular basis say she has good days and bad, “It’s sad,” said a former colleague.
It has become a growing concern that Pelham and Taylor are filling Ivey’s administration with those aligned with former Gov. Bob Riley. “Is it the Riley administration, the Bentley Administration, or the Ivey Administration,” asked a frustrated lawmaker. “We need to know who we are dealing with here.”
There is grave concern that Ivey’s health is being kept from the public in order for Pelham and Taylor to retain power. Again, a former close associated added, “They [Pelham and Taylor] will prop her up like, ‘Weekend at Bernie’s’ as long as they think it’s to their advantage.” Weekend at Bernie’s is a reference to a 1989 movie in which a pair of losers pretend their murdered employer is still alive.
Pelham hid Ivey’s condition in 2015, now, according to those around the Capital, he and Taylor are doing the same.