By Bill Britt
Alabama Political Reporter
MONTGOMERY— “Bizarre” is how one staffer describes the atmosphere in the Governor’s Office—depressing, angry, and paranoid, say others.
Not only is former senior advisor Rebekah Caldwell Mason continuing to advise Bentley via phone and texts, the pair is blaming Deputy Attorney General Matt Hart for all their troubles, say insiders close to the Governor.
Speaking on background, former staffers, several current staffers, and general supporters who are concerned for the administration’s future have reached out to alreporter.com to express worry over Mason’s reemergence as a “secret advisor,” and Gov. Bentley’s state of mind.
Mason resigned in March saying she would focus on her children and husband: “My only plans are to focus my full attention on my precious children and my husband, who I love dearly.” But insiders in the Governor’s camp report, Mason and Bentley confer daily on State business.
Last week, staffers report Mason was secretly ferried into the Capitol using the Wallace elevator. They say the couple spent approximately three hours huddled in conversation before she was spirited back to Tuscaloosa.
On March 30, after Mason’s resignation a staffer said, “She will still be running the show, she’ll just be doing it from T-town.” That seems to be the case, according to those with knowledge of Bentley’s daily activities.
Former associates describe Bentley as forlorn, edgy, and depressed due to Mason’s absence. But most alarmingly, they describe him as delusional.
“Bentley is blaming Matt Hart for all his trouble,” said a former aide. “He actually thinks the tape recording, and [Spencer] Colliers coming forward is all being orchestrated by Hart.”
Hart is the lead prosecutor in the Speaker Mike Hubbard felony case. Bentley is believed to be a witness for the State, to corroborate meetings at which Hubbard lobbied the Governor on behalf of paying clients. Hubbard is charged with illegally lobbying the Executive branch for a fee.
The notion that Hart was “out to get” Rebekah Caldwell Mason began as a rumor circulated by Hubbard’s cronies last year, to gin-up support to stop the State’s case against Hubbard. Those with knowledge of the scheme say, Hubbard’s minions had hoped the threat of Hart coming after “Precious Rebekah” would force Bentley to intercede, and replace Hart and Acting Attorney General W. Van Davis with a Special Prosecutor.
Earlier this year, in January, this publication reported a meeting that Hubbard’s attorneys Lance Bell and attorney Augusta Dowd had with Gov. Bentley. Bell told members of the St. Clair County Republican Party that he and Dowd tried to convince Gov. Bentley to replace Davis and Hart, and appoint a special prosecutor more favorable to Hubbard.
It is believed that Hubbard ally, Auburn Trustee and Great Southern Wood CEO, Jimmy Rane – the well-known “Yella Fella,”—also approached the Governor to ask that the criminal investigation be spiked. Reportedly, Rane approached Governor Bentley in the fall of 2013, in an attempt to persuade the Governor to kill the on-going criminal investigation into the activities of the Speaker.
It is also believed that Rane recently may have tried to persuade Bentley to intervene, but by all accounts, the Governor resisted every advance to help Hubbard.
Many thought Mason might hunker down and wait out the storm, but it now appears she is still actively advising the Governor.