By Bill Britt
Alabama Political Reporter
It should come as no surprise that former top law enforcement officer Spencer Collier is filling in the blanks on fictitious defendants in his defamation and wrongful termination suit against Gov. Robert Bentley, Rebekah Caldwell Mason the Governor’s alleged lover, Mason’s husband Jon and a host of others.
What is consequential in the filing is Collier showing the pattern and practice of Bentley using State personnel and resources to damage a political enemy personally and professionally.
The additions of Alabama Law Enforcement Agency (ALEA) attorney Michael Robinson and ALEA Special Agent April Bickhaus are just the latest defendants on a list that will grow over time. By adding these individuals Collier’s attorney hopes to pry opens a pandora’s box of new evidence to be gathered in discovery.
The proof of wrongdoing continues to mount against Bentley and others especially given the judgment of the Montgomery Special Grand Jury and the damning testimony of Bentley’s former body man, Ray Lewis.
Robinson and Bickhaus, according to the Amended Complaint, committed “wrongful acts that were willful, malicious, fraudulent, in bad faith and/or beyond their authority.”
According to the complaint, this is where Bentley runs afoul of the law using, “ALEA agents and equipment for his personal and private benefit, i.e. State personnel and resources to attack a political enemy.” The complaint asserts Bentley’s use of State resources “were a gross abuse of his authority and were part of a pattern and practice by Bentley of using and attempting to use ALEA and its law enforcement officers for his own personal and private reasons at taxpayers’ expense.”
In the world of the Blue Line, using law enforcement to destroy a fellow officer is a heinous act of betrayal.
Bentley placed Collier on medical leave on February 17, 2016, to punish him for cooperating with the Attorney General’s Office in the Mike Hubbard case, as reported by al.com’s Chuck Dean. Bentley immediately appointed Stan Stabler “Acting” ALEA Secretary. And according to the complaint, “less than two weeks later, on February 29, 2016, Defendants Stabler and Robinson assigned Defendant Bickhaus to investigate allegations of violations of ALEA policies and procedures by Collier.”
Also at issue in the complaint is if Stabler or Robinson had the authority to order the investigation of Collier (unless they was ordered by Bentley). It lasted for around five months while Bentley and Stabler made public accusations of misdeeds by Collier while he was Secretary of ALEA.
An investigation by the Special Prosecution Division led to the Montgomery Special Grand Jury where testimony from Bentley, Stabler, and others failed to convince the impaneled jurors that Collier had committed any of the act which Bentley and Stabler had accused him of committing.
In an unusual and stern rebuke, Attorney General Luther Strange said, “No witness provided credible evidence of criminal misuse of State funds. No witness provided credible evidence of any other criminal violation on the part of former Secretary Collier. Finally, no witness established a credible basis for the initiation of a criminal inquiry in the first place.”
Bentley, Mason, Stabler and Robinson, according to the complaint, “set out to damage Collier’s reputation both professionally and personally and to discredit Collier as a witness against Bentley and Mason in possible criminal cases, ethics violations and impeachment proceedings.”
“There was no legitimate or bona fide law enforcement or State purpose in investigating Collier,” reads the filing, “most certainly not after he was terminated, and then falsely accusing him of crimes or other misconduct.”
As APR reported in the past, Bentley became angry with Collier’s after he refused to obey Bentley’s orders related to the Mike Hubbard Ethic’s case.
However, according to those in Bentley’s inner circle at the time of Collier’s firing, “his greatest sin was angering Rebekah.”
During this period, Bentley’s reported paramour Mason became paranoid that Prosecutor Matt Hart was compiling a target list and she was on it. So, Collier’s cooperation with the Attorney General’s Office in the Hubbard case was anathema. There never was a target list except an idea planted by Hubbard’s cronies to scare away the unsuspecting. However, in this case, it may be that fear of Hart caused Bentley, Mason and others to design their own downfall.