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Former ALEA Chief confirms Ivey’s emergency hospitalization and cover-up

Bill Britt



Gov. Kay Ivey speaks at a bill signing ceremony in Montgomery. (Chip Brownlee/APR)

After then-Lt.Gov. Kay Ivey was rushed to a Colorado hospital with stroke-like symptoms, she and her staff attempted a cover-up to keep the public ignorant of her medical condition.

A year ago, when APR reported the emergency hospitalization, Ivey’s staff equivocated and then went to extraordinary lengths to deny, evade and mislead the public about the incident in which Ivey reportedly suffered a series of mini-strokes.

Ivey’s Chief of Staff hid hospitalization after stroke-like symptoms

In 2017, former Alabama Law Enforcement Agency Secretary Spencer Collier would not confirm APR‘s report, but with just weeks until the Nov. general election, APR contacted Collier and others about Ivey’s 2015 medical emergency, and this time Collier confirmed Ivey’s hospitalization, the cover-up and the steps taken to punish the trooper who sat by Ivey’s bedside in a Colorado Springs medical facility while she recovered from what was reported as mini-strokes.

Ivey’s hospitalization occurred while attending the Aerospace State Association Annual Meeting in Colorado Springs. She was reportedly hospitalized for three days or more. She was accompanied by Chief of Staff Steve Pelham and Security Officer Thomas Andrew “Drew” Brooks.


“I remember vividly; I was contacted by Jack Clark, who was chief of protective services, which is an appointed position. Chief Clark advised me that he was contacted by Lt. Gov. Ivey’s detail leader,” Collier said. “Chief Clark advised me that the detail leader contacted him and stated that he made the decision to rush Governor Ivey to the hospital after what he deemed was a medical emergency. And Chief Clark advised me that, ‘oh, she was admitted to the hospital and the initial diagnosis was stroke-like symptoms.’”

Shortly after Ivey replaced disgraced Gov. Robert Bentley, APR asked Ivey’s office about the crisis situation. At the time, her office first denied the event had taken place. Days later when other media outlets pressed the issue, Ivey’s spokesperson said that she had suffered altitude sickness.

This was a ruse Collier said that was first concocted at the time of her hospitalization.

“Initially the trooper was told, ‘don’t tell anyone,’” said Collier. Later, they changed the story by admitting to altitude sickness, according to Collier.

“Chief Clark said the trooper in charge of her security detail was later told to report that Gov. Ivey was suffering from altitude sickness,” Collier recalls. “That was not the case, and the trooper obviously knew that was not the case. And, pointed that out to Chief Clark, who then told me.”

The order to make a false statement to a superior officer was given by Ivey’s Chief of Staff Steve Pelham, according to Collier and others who were familiar with the cover-up.

Immediately upon being informed of Ivey’s hospitalization, Collier says he alerted then-Gov. Bentley who asked to be kept apprised of the ongoing situation.

Collier is currently suing Bentley for wrongful termination, and the Ivey administration has paid over $300,000 to protect Bentley in the suit, which is still ongoing.

Bentley has told close associates that he was fully aware of Ivey’s incident in Colorado as well as other things he claims to be holding.

When Trooper Brooks returned from Colorado, Collier said he was worried about his future because he had not hidden Ivey’s emergency and was afraid of reprisal.

“He [Brooks] did the right thing by notifying his supervisor, just based on what we call continuity of operations or continuity of government,” Collier said. “He followed policy, and he did the right thing by notifying his supervisor but being instructed not to tell anyone raised red flags for everyone.”

Collier strongly asserts that he is not trying to make an issue with Ivey’s health. “I can relate,” he said.

However, he says the decision to not be truthful was a political decision. “Executive Security Troopers are trained not to focus on political discussions and especially not repeat them. However, a line was clearly crossed when the Trooper was instructed also to be deceitful,” Collier said. “I think the Trooper showed integrity by recognizing that withholding information pertaining to continuity of operations from his chain of command outweighed his concern for maintaining his position as her detail leader.”

But not keeping Ivey’s secret did have consequences for Brooks.

“I received a call from her [Ivey] one morning not long after the Colorado incident, and I mean early, like six in the morning, to meet her at Balch & Bingham in Montgomery,” Collier said. The meeting at a private law office was unusual but that Ivey frequently called him directly on security matters rather than following the proper chain of command.

“Of course I immediately was concerned and thought it was a law enforcement issue. I got up, got dressed, and met her in a private office at Balch & Bingham,” he recalled. “She wanted that particular trooper [Brooks] transferred that day, effective. She stated that it was over a breach in her security protocol. She basically accused the trooper of trying to hack into her email. So she wanted him transferred.”

Collier also said he didn’t believe Ivey’s explanation for reassigning Brooks. “I did not believe Gov. Ivey’s explanation that he attempted to access her email. Such behavior would have warranted an internal investigation, and she very clearly did not want that to happen.”

Brooks was reassigned that day by noon, according to Collier. When Brooks was transferred, his pay was automatically cut 7.5 percent. Troopers assigned to Executive Security within the Protective Services Unit automatically receive a three-step raise while working on a protection detail. Brooks was transferred to a drivers’ license station in Houston County.

The Ivey administration’s claims of altitude sickness run contrary to medical information provided by the Cleveland Clinic.

Colorado Springs, located at the eastern foot of the Rocky Mountains is 6,035 feet above sea level. Ivey traveled to Colorado Springs from Montgomery where the elevation is only 240 feet. However, according to the Cleveland Clinic, “altitude sickness, also called mountain sickness, is a group of general symptoms that are brought on by climbing or walking to a higher and higher altitude (elevation) too quickly. Altitude sickness can affect anyone who goes to high altitudes without giving the body time to adjust to the changes in air pressure and oxygen level. High altitude is defined as 8,000 – 12,000 feet above sea level. Very high altitude is 12,000 – 18,000 feet and altitudes above 18,000 feet are considered extremely high altitude.”

According to the Cleveland Clinic, “Severe altitude sickness is an emergency situation, and the affected person must be taken to a lower altitude immediately.”

However, Ivey remained in Colorado Springs, 2,000 feet below what the Cleveland Clinic determines as high altitude.

Collier says the trooper’s report, which should still be on file at ALEA, list TIAs as the cause of Ivey’s three day emergency hospitalization. TIA stands for Transient Ischemic Attacks often referred to as “Mini Stokes.” 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.”

He also says text messages and emails between her office at the time of the incident will confirm his story. However, he expects the Ivey administration to deny his account. Collier says he is willing to take a polygraph test and challenges Ivey and Pelham to do the same.

During the Republican primary, GOP State Sen. Bill Hightower challenged Ivey and other gubernatorial candidates to release their medical records. Ivey, after brushing off Hightower’s challenge, did eventually provide a statement from a doctor who also happened to be one of her campaign contributors.

Why Ivey and her staff felt compelled to cover-up her hospitalization and then lie to the media is unclear. Perhaps more disturbing was her move to demote a trooper for following protocol to secure her safety.

Collier never mentioned Trooper Brooks by name.

Related reports:

Gov. Ivey’s office says she’s “healthy,” doesn’t dispute APR report

Gov. Kay Ivey promises she’s healthy: “I’ve never felt better”

Gov. Ivey refuses to answer our questions about her health

Governor’s Office says 2015 hospitalization was the result of altitude sickness

Why does the Ivey Administration continue to mislead the public and press?

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More than $100,000 campaign finance penalties collected during 2018 election season

Chip Brownlee



More than $100,000 in campaign finance fines and fees have been collected during the 2018 campaign season in Alabama.

The Alabama Secretary of State’s Office said Friday that $197,657.84 in Fair Campaign Practices Act penalties have been issued, and $102,249.05 of those fees have been paid by political action committees and principal campaign committees.

The Secretary of State is required to issue penalties to PACs and PCCs when they do not file their monthly, weekly or daily campaign finance reports on time or at all.

The office said money that hasn’t been paid of the $197,000 total have either been waived by the Alabama Ethics Commission or the Secretary of State’s Office is still waiting to collect the funds from the committees. There were a total 1,166 penalties or warnings this campaign season.

The requirements are part of act 2015-495, which was passed by the legislature in 2015, and went into effect with the start of the 2018 Election Cycle.


Committees are required to file their campaign finance report by midnight on the date the report is due. Most reports are due by 12:00 p.m. on the second day of each month. Committees are required to report all contributions and expenditures incurred by their campaign during the previous month.

The first report a candidate files late — if it’s within 48 hours of the date the report is due — leads to a warning, which does not count against them or require a fine be paid. Further, the code specifically states that warnings are not violations of the law.

Penalties amounts increase as the number of late reports increases from the candidate.

Committees also have the ability to appeal their penalty to the Alabama Ethics Commission, which has been lenient in overturning violations for a number of reasons.

Of the 1,166 penalties and warnings, 166 have been overturned.

Fines paid by committees are deposited directly into the state general fund.


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Secretary Merrill orders election workers not to count write-in votes

Brandon Moseley



The Secretary of State’s office announced Thursday that no county needs to count the write-in ballots for the general election.

In a statement the Secretary of State’s office wrote: “State law requires the Secretary of State’s Office to review county vote totals and compare those totals to the number of write-in votes cast in each statewide race involving a Federal or State office. Following the completion of that review, the Secretary of State’s Office is tasked with determining whether the total number of write in votes is less than the difference in votes between the candidates receiving the greatest number of votes for that office.”

“Secretary Merrill and his team have completed a review of the offices and it has been determined that no county is required by law to count and report write-in votes for any State or Federal office as provided in Alabama Code Section 17-6-28.”

County election officials must still make this determination for any county offices not included in the Secretary of State’s review.

The final vote totals as certified by the County Canvassing Board are due to the Secretary of State’s Office by Friday, November 16, 2018.


Chad “Chig” Martin and Chris Countryman both ran write-in campaigns for governor.

Allowing write-in votes slows the process of counting the votes down considerably as those ballots would have to be pulled out and counted manually.

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Ivey launches inaugural committee

Brandon Moseley



Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey officially launched the Inaugural Committee and announced Cathy Randall and Jimmy Rane as the Co-Chairs who will oversee the festivities surrounding the inauguration along with committee staff.

“I am excited to officially launch the Inaugural Committee, which will be led by Dr. Cathy Randall and Jimmy Rane,” said Governor Ivey. “Cathy and Jimmy have embodied a spirit of service, in both their professional and personal life, and they have played a major role in the fight to keep Alabama working. I am proud to call them both longtime friends, and I am grateful for their willingness to lend their expertise and support as we prepare to usher in a new era for Alabama.”

Cathy Randall is the Chairman of the Board of Tuscaloosa-based Pettus Randall Holdings LLC and the former Chairman of the Board of Randall Publishing Company. Dr. Randall currently serves on the Alabama Power Board of Directors. She is a former director of the University Honors Programs at the University of Alabama, where she earned two Ph.D. degrees. Dr. Randall also served as director of Alabama Girls State, where she first met Governor Ivey.

Jimmy Rane is best known as “the Yella Fella” from his TV commercials. Rane is the Cofounder and CEO of Great Southern Wood Preserving and the wealthiest man in the state of Alabama. Since 1999, Rane has served as a Trustee at Auburn University, where he first met Governor Ivey while earning a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration. Rane also has a law degree from Samford Univesity’s Cumberland School of Law. Rane lives in Abbeville, Alabama and is well known for his charitable efforts to raise money to fund college scholarships through the Jimmy Rane Foundation.

Governor Ivey also announced several of her key campaign staffers will serve on the inaugural committee, including: Mike Lukach, Executive Director; Debbee Hancock, Communications Director; Anne-Allen Welden, Finance Director; Julia McNair, Deputy Finance Director; Julia Pickle, Director of Ticketing; Jonathan Hester, Director of Events and Production; Lenze Morris; Ryan Sanford; and Henry Thornton.


The Governor added that more information about the inaugural theme and events will be announced in the coming weeks.

Kay Ivey became Governor in April 2017 when then Governor Robert Bentley (R) resigned. Ivey was easily elected as Alabama’s first Republican woman to serve as Governor. Lurleen Wallace (D) in 1966 was the only other female elected Alabama Governor. Ivey received more than a million votes, more than any governor since 1986.

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New Alabama House Republican Caucus meets to select leadership

Brandon Moseley



The 77 members of the House Republican Caucus were sworn in by Speaker of the House Mac McCutcheon (R-Monrovia) during the group’s organizational meeting in Montgomery on Tuesday. This is the largest Republican supermajority in Alabama history.

Following the swearing-in ceremony, the Caucus selected McCutcheon as its candidate for House Speaker for the next four years and state Representative Victor Gaston (R – Mobile) as its choice for Speaker Pro Tem. State Rep. Nathaniel Ledbetter (R – Rainsville) was elected as House Majority Leader, State Rep. Connie Rowe (R – Jasper) was chosen as the Caucus Vice Chair, and State Rep. Phillip Pettus (R – Killen) was elected to serve as secretary/treasurer.
The 77 members of the Caucus on Tuesday unanimously affirmed that McCutcheon will once again serve as the group’s nominee for Speaker of the House when lawmakers convene for the Legislature’s organizational session in January. Because Republicans currently hold such a commanding supermajority in the 105-member Alabama House, being selected as the GOP Caucus nominee means there is little likelihood of any other outcome when the full body meets in January.

“Serving as Speaker of the Alabama House has been the greatest professional honor of my life, and I’m humbled that my fellow Republicans have chosen me to continue serving in that role,” McCutcheon said. “If elected during the organizational session in January, I will continue presiding in a manner that gives all members of both parties a voice in the legislative process. Our state faces many challenges, and finding needed solutions will require all of us to work together.”

McCutcheon was first elected as House Speaker during an August 2016 special session after former Speaker Mike Hubbard (R-Auburn) was convicted of twelve counts of violating Alabama’s ethics law.

Prior to retiring after a 25-year career, McCutcheon was a law enforcement officer in the Huntsville Police Department and worked in areas like hostage negotiation, major crimes investigation, probation oversight and others. He has also worked as a farmer and as associate pastor at the College Park Church of God.


This will be Victor Gaston’s third term as Speaker Pro Tem.

“My thanks go out to both the new and returning members of the House Republican Caucus for re-nominating me as the body’s second-in-command,” Gaston said. “I am excited for the opportunities that Alabama’s future holds and will continue working to make our state an even better place for all of its citizens.

Gaston was elected to the House in 1982 as one of only eight Republicans in the entire Alabama Legislature at the time. He served as Acting Speaker of the House for a period of months in 2016 following the Hubbard conviction.

State Rep. Nathaniel Ledbetter (R – Rainsville) will once again serve as House Majority Leader and State Rep. Connie Rowe (R – Jasper) as its vice chair. The two leaders will hold their positions throughout the 2018 – 2022 quadrennium.

“I am deeply grateful for the trust and confidence that my Republican colleagues have continued to place in me, and I look forward to continuing my service as their leader for the next four years,” Ledbetter said. “Republicans added to our already impressive supermajority in the general election cycle, and I will work to ensure that the bills, measures, and resolutions passed by the House reflect the same conservative beliefs and traditional values that Alabama’s voters share.”

Ledbetter is a former mayor and city council member in Rainsville, who was elected to the Alabama House in 2014. Ledbetter was elected as House Majority Leader in 2017. he was the first freshman member to serve in that post in modern times.

Ledbetter and his wife, Teresa, are the owners of a small business and have two children and four grandchildren.

Prior to her election to the Alabama House in 2014, Rowe served as the police chief in Jasper, Alabama and was previously employed as an investigator for the Walker County District Attorney’s Office for more than 20 years.

“I look forward to being a part of the Republican leadership team as we work to enact the conservative agenda that voters overwhelmingly endorsed at the polls,” Rowe said. “By sticking together and offering a unified front, House Republicans have a tremendous opportunity to move Alabama forward over the next four years.”

State Rep. Phillip Pettus (R – Killen) is a retired state trooper serving his second term in office. He was elected to serve as the secretary/treasurer for the Caucus.

Democrats will only have 28 seats in the Alabama House of Representatives, down from 33. Republicans will also have a 27 to 8 supermajority in the Alabama Senate.

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Former ALEA Chief confirms Ivey’s emergency hospitalization and cover-up

by Bill Britt Read Time: 7 min