By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter
On Wednesday, April 13, former Secretary of ALEA, Spencer Collier, said that he was not informed about Alabama Governor Robert Bentley’s (R) use of a State helicopter to fly his wallet from Tuscaloosa to the Governor’s beach home, and never approved that flight.
Former Secretary Collier said in a statement, “During my tenure as Secretary of ALEA, I was notified on multiple occasions that Governor Bentley hurriedly left his residence in Tuscaloosa without security. On one occasion, Governor Bentley’s whereabouts were unknown for several hours. On another occasion, Protective Services Chief Stan Stabler contacted me and stated that “We have lost the Governor.” Later I was informed that Troopers or Special Agents with the Protective Services Unit located the Governor and escorted him to his private beach house on Ft. Morgan Road.”
Sec. Collier said, “I was never informed about the wallet and did not approve the use of ALEA Aviation to retrieve it. The Chief of Protective Services was given the authority by Governor Bentley to utilize aviation on behalf of the Governor without going up the chain of command to me and the Chief did so routinely.”
Gov. Bentley has appointed Stan Stabler as Sec. Collier’s acting replacement at the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency.
Collier said that, “These type incidents and similar conduct by the Governor made the job of the hardworking men and women of ALEA Protective Services very difficult and often put them in awkward positions.”
Sec. Collier was placed on leave after complying with an Alabama Attorney General’s office request for an affidavit in the ongoing Speaker Mike Hubbard (R-Auburn) in defiance of Bentley’s direct orders not to comply with the AG’s office request.
Gov. Bentley appointed Stabler to be the acting Secretary. Stabler then fired or transferred six high ranking senior staff members at ALEA alleging misappropriation of ALEA resources. Collier said that was a lie and then made public evidence of an inappropriate relationship between Gov. Bentley and his senior political advisor, Mrs. Rebekah Caldwell Mason whom Collier accused of orchestrating this plot. The release of an audiotape where the Governor expressed his lover for Mrs. Mason and his fondness for grabbing her breasts appeared to confirm the story that was first reported by bloggers, Roger Shuler and Donald Watkins last summer.
The Governor then fired Collier. Mrs. Mason has resigned to spend more time with her husband and three children and to date neither Collier not any of the six accused ALEA employees have been charged or indicted for any crimes in the alleged mishandling of state property. The alleged ‘sex scandal’ has been widely reported in the national press and many Alabamians feel embarrassed and betrayed by the Governor’s conduct. State Representative Ed Henry (R-Hartselle) has filed articles of impeachment against the embattled Governor; but at this point it seems like those efforts are being stalled by Speaker Mike Hubbard and the House leadership. Hubbard’s criminal trial on 23 counts of violating state ethics law begins in May.
The use of the helicopter to transport the wallet from Tuscaloosa to Fort Morgan was first reported by the ‘Yellowhammer News’ and has since been confirmed by ALEA.