By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter
Thursday, September 29, 2016, the Alabama House Judiciary Committee issued subpoenas for both Alabama Governor Robert Bentley (R) and his former top political advisor, Mrs. Rebekah Caldwell Mason.
Earlier this week, the House Judiciary Committee passed rules giving itself subpoena powers. At that meeting Special Counsel Jack Sharman asked the Committee for the subpoenas saying that parties had not been cooperative with his requests for documents.
The Clerk of the House, Jeff Woodard, also subpoenaed: Michael H. Echols, Jonathan Mason, the Alabama Council for Excellent Government, JRM Enterprises, Inc., and RCM Communications, Inc.
Judiciary Committee Chairman Mike Jones (R from Andalusia) said, “These individuals and corporations have until 5:00 pm October 10, 2016, to deliver the requested documentation to the special counsel.”
The subpoena requests were approved by a subcommittee consisting of Representatives Merika Coleman (D-Midfield), Dickie Drake (R-Leeds), and Matt Friday (R-Montebello).
Sharman is demanding that Bentley turn over his tax returns; checking and savings account records; cell phone numbers, records, and bills; his daily and weekly schedules; a list of all email and social media accounts used by Bentley; any correspondence, or documents about work performed by Rebekah Mason, RCM Communications, JRM Enterprises, Jon Mason, Bentley for Governor, and the Alabama Council for Excellence in Government. They also want all documents, texts, notes, voice messages or email to or from Rebekah Mason, Jon Mason, Stan Stabler, Spencer Collier, Ray Lewis, and Cooper Shattuck. The Judiciary Committee also wanted any information about use of state vehicles and airplanes (including charters) to transport Mrs Mason as well as all records of her visits to Wynfield Estate and any and all information about transfers of money and gifts from Gov. Bentley to Mrs. Mason.
Gov. Bentley has acknowledged having an “inappropriate relationship’ with Mrs. Mason but has publicly denied having sexual relations with her or any criminal wrongdoing. Mason escorted Gov. Bentley to the Whitehouse to meet with President Obama and the other Governors at a formal dinner reception last year.
There are numerous accusations of improper payments to the Masons as well as improper use of state vehicles and aircraft. Bentley has also been accused of terminating Alabama Law Enforcement Agency (ALEA) Secretary Spencer Collier and other ALEA officials allegedly on the orders of Mrs. Mason.
Gov. Bentley is expected to challenge the legality of the subpoenas; but he will have to do it with a new lead attorney. On Wednesday, Gov. Bentley’s defense attorney, Joe Espy, quit after Gov. Bentley and Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange (R) sent a letter to gambling magnate Milton McGregor demanding that McGregor comply with Alabama’s gambling laws. Espy is also McGregor’s attorney. Citing the conflict of interest, Espy dropped Gov. Bentley as a client.
During the 2016 Legislative Session articles of impeachment were introduced in the House by Rep. Ed Henry (R-Hartselle). The House Judiciary Committee has been tasked with investigating the allegations swirling around the 73 year old Bentley and then making a recommendation to the full House on whether or not to impeach the Governor. If the House does pass an impeachment resolution it would be up to the Senate to put the Governor on trial.
Bentley is also being investigated by the US Department of Justice, the Alabama Attorney General’s Special Prosecutions Unit, and the Alabama Ethics Commission. Anything he or anyone else testifies to publicly before the Judiciary Committee is admissible in possible criminal prosecution that may or may not be in Bentley and/or Mason’s future.
No State official has been impeached by the Alabama House of Representatives since 1915.