By Bill Britt
Alabama Political Reporter
MONTGOMERY—Idleness or inertia are not characteristics found in the Attorney General’s Special Prosecution Division. Aggressive, dogged and thorough are heard from friend and foe, to describe the team led by veteran prosecutor and Division Chief, Matt Hart.
Best known for successfully bringing to justice, Alabama’s once, all-powerful Speaker of the House, Mike Hubbard, the division continues to investigate and indict others for criminal ethics violations.
A Special Grand Jury impaneled in Montgomery on July 11 heard over two hours of testimony from Governor Robert Bentley.
Bentley staffers report the Governor appeared angry and shaken after the encounter, accusing Hart of blindsiding him with withering questioning. The Montgomery Special Grand Jury remains impaneled and is expected to reconvene sometime after Labor Day, according to courthouse workers. Whispers of another Special Grand Jury in Jefferson County have lawmakers and county officials on edge.
Back in Montgomery, ethics complaints filed against Rebekah Caldwell Mason, former senior advisor to Bentley and his alleged current sweetheart, are now believed to be with the Special Prosecution Division as is one against her Husband, Jon Mason.
In Etowah County law-enforcement think the ethics complaint investigation against Sen. Phil Williams (R-Rainbow City) is heating up, with Hart’s team taking the reins.
These are only a few of the growing inquiries believed to be underway by Hart and company. Attorney General Luther Strange is fully backing his team, adding new personnel and resources which were denied under Hubbard, those close to Strange report. Also, Chief Deputy Alice Martin is completely supportive of the Special Prosecution Division, according to staffers. Hart commanded Martin’s white collar crime unit during her service as US Attorney for the Northern District of Alabama. Martin and Hart are a formidable duo, according to those with knowledge of their relationship.
Since the Hubbard conviction on 12 felony counts of public corruption, the Division has added at least four felony ethics indictments to its credit. These charges range from ethics law violations; first-degree theft; and computer tampering to an alleged Jersey-style scheme to sell contractor license by two employees of the Alabama Licensing Board for General Contractors.
Hart’s team is putting corrupt politicos on notice: those who betray public trust will face an unrelenting bunch of lawmen and women.