By Bill Britt
Alabama Political Reporter
MONTGOMERY—At 8:39 am, Wednesday, Gov. Robert Bentley walked into the Special Grand Jury being held in Montgomery County as Alabama Political Reporter reported yesterday.
Bentley’s entourage included legal counsel David Byrne and one of his personal attorneys, Bill Espy.
Following the governor was Hal Taylor, chief of staff to former ALEA Secretary Spencer Collier.
After lunch Collier’s replacement Stan Stabler, current ALEA head, entered the special grand jury room.
The prosecution was comprised of Attorney General Luther Strange, Deputy Attorney General Alice Martin, and Special Prosecutions Divison Chief Matt Hart.
Not only was APR there to observe those entering the Grand Jury, sources around the courthouse confirmed that others who appeared earlier in the week were J.T. Jenkins, ALEA’s second-in-command under Collier, and Ray Lewis, who served as Bentley’s “Body Man” before becoming Chief of Protective Services.“
“Lewis knows what skeletons are stashed in Bentley’s closet and where to go looking for them,” said a former Trooper who spoke to APR on conditions of anonymity.
The presence of Stabler and former ALEA staff would indicate at this stage the grand jury is hearing testimony concerning events leading to Bentley’s firing of Collier, for filing an affidavit concerning the criminal trial of former Speaker Mike Hubbard.
While the Governor has denied Collier was fired over the affidavit, that does not square with others in the administration or Collier.
In April Collier filed a civil lawsuit against Bentley, his alleged paramour Rebekah Caldwell Mason, Stabler, and others, for defaming his character when they “maliciously published numerous false and defamatory statements accusing Collier of misusing State funds, and that ALEA was conducting a ‘criminal investigation’ of Collier,” according to the suit.
The special grand jury was impaneled on Monday, July 11. If the past is prologue this is just phase one of what may prove to be a long process, given the Lee County special grand jury that indicted Hubbard is still ongoing.