By Bill Britt
Alabama Political Reporter
Late last Friday afternoon, Stan Stabler, now the State’s “top cop” at ALEA, emailed an Op-Ed to media outlets around the State, praising the work of the agency—he didn’t help build— and rebuking former chief, Spencer Collier who did build it. He also added a veiled accusation that this publication, the Alabama Political Reporter, was lying about the SBI closing criminal investigations.
In his Op-Ed, no doubt under Gov. Robert Bentley’s direction, Stabler wrote, “These sensationalized lies from Collier – and other unnamed sources – all occurred during the timeframe of his tenure as Secretary, and under his direct supervision.”
Stabler also said, “No ongoing investigations were closed. As is customary in a law enforcement agency, once investigators have exhausted the leads and completed their investigation, the file is turned over to the proper prosecutorial authority.”
Stabler, a red-faced Neanderthal, gives legitimate officers of the law a bad name. Like the cop who plants evidence or lies on the witness stand, Stabler is doing whatever is necessary to mislead the public about ALEA and the Bentley administration.
Stabler now finds himself a useful stooge, as Gov Bentley, and his former senior advisor, Rebekah Caldwell Mason, scramble to put a lid on the ugly scandal that plagues the administration. It is amateur hour at the Capitol, and Stabler should be given the hook.
As Gov. Bentley and Mason try to navigate the minefield of their own creation, “Bouncing Betties” are spraying lethal shrapnel in all directions.
Why did Stabler pen an Op-Ed on a Friday afternoon?
On Friday, my wife Susan and I joined Spencer Collier and his wife Melissa for lunch at Sinclair’s in the Coverdale District of Montgomery. A Bentley loyalist was seated at a table near us as we had lunch. We were not in the midst of a clandestine meeting. We were simply sharing a meal with good folks, who are hurting. The Collier’s are going through a terrible time, for no other reason than Spencer doing his job: submitting an affidavit in the Mike Hubbard felony case.
But, in Montgomery, “court intrigue” has risen to a Machiavellian/DEF COM 1, where simple fellowship and breaking of bread is seen as something suspicious.
So, why did Stabler suddenly feel an urgent need to write an opinion piece on a Friday afternoon, some 20 days after he had made the same accretions?
Bentley now finds himself facing a hostile press corps, who believe, and rightfully so, that they have been lied to and misled. Mason has long used her relationship with some in the media to her advantage. She played al.com’s Chuck Dean like an old fiddle, and Dean hasn’t had a byline since Collier’s press conference in March.
Steve Flowers said, she dressed him down for unflattering prose about her boss. This is not the way to handle a media veteran, or for that matter, anyone.
My relationship with Mason, as with the Governor, has been cordial, professional, and straight forward.
But lately, Bentley’s staff has become so thin-skinned that Communications Director, Jennifer Ardis took to Twitter to accuse John Archibald of writing a hit piece about Bentley, and his Celine Dion encounter in Las Vegas.
Archibald did a straight-up, hard-hitting report, and they didn’t like it.
The media is not following the Bentley Administration’s narrative, and the steady barrage of negative press is weighing heavily on them. Perhaps those around Bentley thought the press would give him the same “kid glove” treatment as some gave Speaker Hubbard. But press attention should be the least of the administration’s worries, as State and Federal law enforcement is circling the State Capitol.
That Stabler would be forced to write such an obviously ridiculous Op-Ed is further proof, that the administration is running a Romper Room, and not a war room.
Those like Stabler should be running for the hills, not doubling down on the cover up. Stabler, Ardis, and other Bentley loyalists are dangerously close to becoming defendants, not witnesses.
They all would be wise to brush up on the Watergate affair, and the words of Bob Woodward: “The fact of the Watergate cover up is not nearly as interesting as the step into making the cover up. And when you understand the step, you understand that Richard Nixon lied. That he was a criminal.”
When we finally “understand the step” that Bentley took, we will understand who and what we have been dealing with over the last two years.
The helicopter trip to retrieve the Governor’s wallet; the night on the town in Las Vegas; all will pale in comparison to what is finally revealed.
There will be no winners, only victims, and it is doubtful there will be any heroes; just casualties by degree.
Watching this slow motion destruction is both sad and sickening. The sloppy way they are managing the crisis would be sad, if it were not so serious. To watch lives being distorted because the Governor lacked the moral discipline to control his desire, is shameful.
As for the closed investigation: Stabler has once again doubled down on a lie; something he dare not do when facing a Grand Jury.
Perhaps those enabling the cover up within the Bentley administration should remember the words of advice columnist, Ann Landers: ”The naked truth is always better than the best dressed lie.”