By Bill Britt
Alabama Political Reporter
MONTGOMERY—Those inside Gov. Robert Bentley’s inner circle have, for the last several months, expressed concerns about the growing paranoia driving the Governor and his senior adviser Rebekah Caldwell Mason.
Several months ago, Mason became convinced that Matt Hart, Chief of the Attorney General’s Special Prosecution Division, was coming after her. Hart, of course, led the investigation, which resulted in the indictment of Speaker Mike Hubbard on 23 felony counts of public corruption.
“Rebekah convinced the Governor that Hart was out to get her,” said a former Bentley political adviser. “To this day, she has him convinced that Hart is more evil than Hubbard, if you can imagine that?”
About six months ago, a rumor began to circulate among politicos that Hart had a “hit list” of individuals who would be prosecuted if Hubbard were convicted. Prominent lobbyists, former Bentley advisors, big corporations, and Mason were rumored to be among Hart’s targets.
According to those formerly aligned with Hubbard, this so-called hit list was manufactured by Hubbard and his cronies as a way to drive people to fear the Attorney General’s Office and, in turn, aid Hubbard. “The enemy of my enemy is my friend,” was the endgame for what Hubbard’s people believed. “If they could make people believe they were on Hart’s list after his trial then they would help Hubbard stop Hart now. That was the thinking,” according to the source.
Since Bentley’s reelection in 2014, those once close to the Governor say, a “bunker mentality” has taken hold at the Capitol, with Mason handling all negative fallout while feeding Bentley only the information she wanted him to have. “She has filtered what news reports he sees, since the middle 2014,” a former staffer said. “She only wants him to see skittles and rainbows.” In fact, copies of the Governor’s daily press clippings from March 23 to 28, obtained by alreporter.com, show not one sign of the avalanche of negative press surrounding Bentley.
Inside the bubble that has become the Bentley Administration, the Governor is in the dark, say former top advisors.
Also, reportedly, cabinet members are rallying around the embattled Governor believing that his apology for inappropriate sexting and FaceTime chats will die out over time. “They truly believe this is no big deal and that the apology was all he needed to do,” a former staffer said. “Rebekah is telling everyone, she has everything under control.”
What Mason told staffers would make a two-day story, is into its second week, with no signs slowing down.