By Bill Britt
Alabama Political Reporter
Former General Counsel for The University of Alabama System, Cooper Shattuck, resigned his position on December 31, 2016. He stated, “After many years of public service to the State and to the State’s largest education enterprise, I am looking forward to returning to the private practice of law, where I can utilize my broad-based experience to further the interests and accomplish the goals of numerous clients.”
Last week, Gov. Robert Bentley’s office confirmed that Shattuck is working as a contract lawyer for the administration. According to the Governor’s communications director, Yasmine August, “He [Shattuck] is a contract attorney like others for the Governor’s Office, and he will work as needed.” She also stated that the State would pay him like any other contract lawyer.
Shattuck’s name is linked to lawsuits filed by Spencer Collier, the former Secretary of the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency (ALEA), and Wendall Ray Lewis, the former head of the Bentley’s security detail and Chief of the Office of Dignitary Protection (a.k.a. Bentley’s body man). Collier and Lewis have both filed lawsuits against a pro-Bentley dark-money group called the Alabama Council for Excellent Government (ACEGOV), which Shattuck helped found.
Both men have also filed suit against Bentley’s alleged love interest, Rebekah Caldwell Mason, citing her involvement in their wrongful termination suits.
ACEGOV, Bentley and Mason have denied the allegations in Collier and Lewis’ cases.
Shattuck’s departure from the University of Alabama System may be tied to investigations surrounding a Special Grand Jury impaneled in Montgomery by Matt Hart, Chief of the Special Prosecution Division within the Alabama Attorney General’s office.
Questions concerning the activities of ACEGOV, disparagingly known around Montgomery as the “girlfriend fund,” possibly conceived as a means to pay Mason, have been rumored as a point of interest for Hart.
In October 2016, the grand jury found no wrong doing on Collier’s part and cleared him of all allegations made by Bentley. In a strongly worded statement, Attorney General Luther Strange condemned the investigation ordered by Bentley.
As for Shattuck, after serving as Chair for the Executive Committee for the Deepwater Horizon Natural Resource Damage Assessment Trustee Council, he became chief counsel for Bentley. Bentley then arranged for him to assume the role of general counsel for the University of Alabama System, where his duties appeared to revolve around Bentley’s grand construction plans at Gulf State Park. Bentley’s handling of the funds for that project have come under fire by public and private individuals.
According to his Linkedin profile, Shattuck is principal at the Tuscaloosa-based Cooper Shattuck, LLC, since January of this year.
Bentley’s office did not categorize what legal matters Shattuck would undertake for the Governor.