By Bill Britt
Alabama Political Reporter
MONTGOMERY—Under the guise of cooperation, Gov. Robert Bentley’s office released a second round of internal documents to the House of Representative’s Judiciary Committee. The Judiciary is looking into the possibility of impeaching the Governor. Portions of these documents, like the first batch turned over to the committee earlier this month, have been selectively leaked to media outlets in an attempt to shift the investigation and public attention away from Bentley and on to Alabama’s former top cop, Spencer Collier.
The latest round of accusations shows Collier supposedly asking Bentley’s then-body-man Ray Lewis to delete or alter log-in sheets at the Governor’s mansion. Sign-in/sign-out logs are kept at the Governor’s mansion, as well as at the Blount Estate and beach property, as one of the security protocol’s to ensure the Governor’s safety.
Out of over 10,000 pages Bentley’s office say were turned over to the committee, at least 61 pages were secreted away in a scheme staffer’s link to the Governor’s alleged mistress, Rebekah Caldwell Mason.
Last week, Huntsville’s WHNT19 reported ALEA staffer, Ashley Cook, stated, “[Ray] was being asked to delete certain things, and get rid of certain things, mansion logs and different things. Ray said he would not do it. He also said Mrs. Bentley was aware of the logs and that it, and her lawyer was, and that it would not be in the best interest for anybody to do that.”
As for the sign-in logs at the Mansion, those with knowledge of the events described by Cook challenge the accuracy of the leaked portions provided to the press. “This is not what happened at all,” said one former trooper. “This all snowballed because Mrs. Bentley looked at the logs on a particular Sunday, and found Mrs. Mason had spent much of the night with the Governor while she was out of town.”
Those with direct knowledge of the events surrounding the first “document dump” say Mason hand-selected many of the so-called quotes to paint Collier in an unflattering light and chose which reporters should receive them.
Many of the records Bentley claims are from an internal investigation by the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency’s (ALEA) Integrity Unit and accuse Collier of potential crimes including sexual harassment of a female employee. The woman in question, who asked to remain anonymous in this report, said the allegations of sexual harassment are completely false and that the administration tried to force her to lie about Collier. She also affirmed she privately notified members of the press regarding the fallacy, but they published many of the allegations, regardless.
Other ALEA agents have come forward in recent days to deny quotes attributed to them, as either false or misleading because they were taken out of context.
Former troopers and ALEA staff who provided information for this report wish to remain anonymous, because of Collier’s pending lawsuit against Bentley, Mason and others. Their anonymity is necessary at this time because they are cooperating with the FBI and the State’s Attorney General’s Special Prosecution Division led by Matt Hart.
According to a former law enforcement agent, the questions about sign-in logs arose from Mrs. Bentley’s suspicions that her husband of 50 years was continuing a romantic relation with the married Mason, even after he had assured her it was over.
“In late 2014, Bentley convinced his wife he was no longer involved romantically with Mrs. Mason,” said the former trooper, “but she checked the records and had him dead to rights.”
According to these sources, Mrs. Bentley confided to Lewis that she had concerns about logs being altered or destroyed, in an attempt to cover the Governor’s sordid liaison with Mason. Lewis, out of his concern for Mrs. Bentley, inquired about the situation and found that inquiries about the logs were related to ALEA’s paperless security technology initiative and nothing more.
The tension caused by the Governor’s relationship with Mason became a daily headache for his security detail.
“You have to understand, as security for the Governor, we had to make sure that Mrs. Bentley and Mrs. Mason were kept apart,” said the former trooper. “It got so bad that Mrs. Bentley would call ahead and make sure Mrs. Mason was not around before coming to the Capitol.” He says Mason never returned the same courtesy to Mrs. Bentley.
When confronted about the sign-in logs, Bentley became furious and demanded the security protocol be stopped immediately. However, it was continued under Collier’s term despite Bentley’s order.
Current and former ALEA staff see this latest “data dump” as a continuation of the previous smears by Bentley and Mason.
One current Bentley staffer, speaking anonymously (for fear of retaliation) said, “Rebekah is vindictive and petty, but the Governor lets her do as she pleases and we have to fall in line or be fired,” adding, “I need this job, but I am terrified of what comes next.”
What comes next may be the result of a special grand jury impaneled in Montgomery County.
Collier’s attorney, Kenny Mendelsohn, said the recent report is more “tabloid than a law enforcement investigation,” in challenging the validity of the leaked documents.
While the backstory may seem straight from a Harlequin novel, the real danger lies in an administration that is seemingly out of control and engaging in dubious antics to cover-up an affair that may very possibly lead to criminal indictments.