By Bill Britt
Alabama Political Reporter
MONTGOMERY— Governor Robert Bentley fired Alabama Law Enforcement Agency Secretary, (ALEA) Spencer Collier, effective immediately on Tuesday in a press released without so much as a call to his longtime friend.
In his press release, Bentley alleged wrongdoing on the part of Collier. Just yesterday, Collier responded that Bentley was incorrect, and he would welcome an investigation by the FBI or the Attorney General’s Office.
ALReporter.com can now confirm that the US Attorney’s Office for the Northern District is not investigating Collier, but the firings at ALEA and the closings of multiple criminal investigations, which are believed to have been ordered by Bentley and his unpaid senior advisor Rebekah Caldwell Mason.
In an exclusive interview with ALReporter.com, Collier states that the Governor’s actions have nothing to do with improper procedure at ALEA or filing the affidavit in the Speaker Mike Hubbard felony case. It is about a long-standing coverup that Gov. Bentley and Mason have perpetrated on the State.
“This is not retaliation for what I did. This is a desperate attempt by a desperate couple to discredit me because of what I know,” said Collier. “But above all this it is about the brave men and women at ALEA, the rule of law, and most importantly the honest hard working people of Alabama who deserve honest government.”
On Tuesday, Bentley tried pressuring Collier to resign but he refused because the accusations against him were false, Collier said. The Governor’s attorney, David Byrne, reportedly said that Bentley would wait until 10:00am Wednesday, before making a final decision. However, Bentley didn’t wait as promised and abruptly fired Collier through a press release.
“I learned via social media that I have been terminated as Alabama’s first Secretary of Law Enforcement. Mere humanity, let alone professionalism or friendship should have provided for a phone call,” said Collier. “However, I am not surprised at the Governor’s method or his behavior in handling matters as concealment and avoidance has become his modus operandi.”
In an earlier interview with John Archibald, some details of an alleged illicit affair between Bentley and Mason were revealed.
Collier says it is not the affair, but the use of state resources to facility their rendezvouses and the cover-up, that should be the focus of any reporting.
“I directly challenged the Governor on this behavior some time ago, in the presence of another senior ALEA official,” said Collier. “And I will repeat what I told him them…”I care for you greatly, but I will never lie to a grand jury for you. That was true then and it’s true now.” He also said he made both Bentley and Mason aware of his concerns saying, “The Governor and his Senior Political Advisor are both aware that I challenged their misuse of the public trust and tax dollars to conceal their improper behavior.”
Bentley, speaking at a press conference, accused Collier with misappropriations of funds. “The original allegations [against Collier] were so flimsy and trumped up that they were kicked back by ALEA and a new set of false allegations had to be imagined,” said a former member of Bentley’s inner circle with close ties to current staffers.
“I want to be abundantly clear in saying that I have done absolutely nothing wrong. Just last month, Governor Bentley praised ALEA and my leadership during the State of the State,” said Collier. “Several things have changed since then. I chose to cooperate with the Attorney General’s Office and not comply with the Governor’s directive to mislead agents or representatives from the Attorney General’s Office. His directive was to commit a criminal act and I do not apologize for doing the right thing. Law enforcement has a duty and obligation to disobey an ‘unlawful order.’”
Collier, a friend of Bentley for over 16 years, was put on medical leave after he refused an order, not to give an affidavit to the Attorney General’s Office related to Speaker Mike Hubbard’s felony criminal case. Bentley told AL.com that he was punishing Collier for refusing his order to not supply the affidavit.
In a recent statement, Collier said, “I was put on medical leave to recover. However, while gone, my name has been drug through the mud by usurpers at ALEA and political operatives in the Governor’s Office…done under the guise of not following an order.”
The affidavit was a result of allegations made by attorney and radio host, Baron Coleman, who claimed information he received from Deputy Attorney General Matt Hart may have violated the Grand Jury Secrecy Act. ALEA Special Agent Jack Wilson investigated Coleman’s claims and found no wrong doing by Hart. Wilson was then reassigned and his cases closed.
Earlier, Collier said he cooperated with Attorney General’s Office as dictated by federal and State law. “I never disobeyed a lawful order,” Collier wrote. “In fact, as a law enforcement officer, I have a duty to disobey an unlawful order and I do not apologize for refusing to lie to the Attorney General’s Office.”
Those present at the meeting where Bentley and Collier discussed the the affidavit say the Governor asked Collier to tell State’s Attorney General’s Office that an investigation into Deputy Attorney General Matt Hart was ongoing, when it was not.
According to several individuals who claim knowledge of the situation, Mason dressed down Collier, attorney to the governor David Byrne, and others over the affidavit. After being summarily berated by Mason, according to two individuals, the governor followed suit, “reading us the riot act.”
Law enforcement officers have questioned the propriety of Mason an unpaid consultant and her presence at meetings where highly sensitive Law enforcement matters were being discussed.
Collier said, “The Governor, Stan Stabler and Gene Wiggins fired four hard working employees of ALEA who’s only crime was loyalty to me. I welcome an external review by the Attorney General’s Office or the FBI into my tenure at ALEA and will swear under oath to my actions.”
He further stated he challenged Bentley to do the same. “The Governor should simply swear under oath and articulate his actions, personnel moves and transportation leases as it pertains to his efforts to deceive the taxpayers of this state to facilitate his relationship with his Senior Political Advisor [Mason].”
Collier said he want to thank the men and women of ALEA that get up everyday and work hard for the people of Alabama. “By no means is this a disparagement upon their hard work and sacrifice.”
He added, “I want to apologize to the Bentley family for the pain they have had to endure for the past eighteen months. I apologize that his family and friends have had to watch this man morph into something unrecognizable.”
Collier says he is cooperating with the federal law enforcement in their ongoing probe into what really happened at ALEA.