By Chip Brownlee
Alabama Political Reporter
MONTGOMERY — In response to questions from the Alabama Political Reporter, Gov. Kay Ivey’s office said Monday that her 2015 hospitalization in Colorado was the result of altitude sickness not strokes.
“Many born and bred southerners like Governor Ivey are affected by altitude when visiting Colorado,” Ivey’s press secretary Eileen Jones said. “She was there attending the Aerospace States’ Association Conference. She was vice-chair and in the absence of the chair, she ended up chairing the annual meeting. Did she get checked out at a hospital when at the conference? Yes. Did she have a stroke? No. Was she in the hospital 4 days? No.”
The response follows a report from Alabama Political Reporter published last week that Ivey’s staff at the time tried to cover up a hospitalization for mini strokes in 2015.
The report, from APR‘s Bill Britt, cited numerous sources close to Ivey who said she spent several days in a hospital in Colorado after she became ill at the Aerospace States’ Association conference.
The well-placed, reliable sources, including former top Executive Branch officials who were directly involved, have not backed down from their recollections of the events.
Sources told APR Ivey has had some health issues following the series of stroke-like attacks that left her confused and disoriented at the conference in Colorado. The sources did not say the incidents were full-blown strokes.
The sources said Ivey’s ALEA security detail was told not to speak of the health problems to anyone, APR’s Josh Moon has reported.
Days later, at a press conference Friday, Ivey promised she is healthy and capable of running the State.
“My health is fine. I’ve never felt better,” Ivey said. “What’s the old saying? There’s never a step too high for a high stepper.”
The Governor’s Office did not address APR’s reports that Ivey’s top staff, specifically Chief of Staff Steve Pelham and legal counsel Bryan Taylor, have worked to keep the issues under wraps while effectively running the Governor’s Office themselves.
Last Thursday, a spokesperson for the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency confirmed that Thomas “Drew” Brooks, one of the troopers who was part of Ivey’s security detail, filed for out-of-state travel reimbursement for the dates of April 15, 2015, through April 20, 2015.
The aerospace conference ended on April 17.
Because ignoring the incident would have been a violation of ALEA protocol, Brooks ignored the directive to keep the incident quiet and reported it to explain the unexpected length of his trip, which ended up stretching three days past the end of the conference.
Sources told APR that Brooks was punished for following the rules and disobeying the directive, which was reportedly given by Pelham. Brooks was removed from the security detail team and reassigned to the driver’s license office in Troy, the sources said.
APR also asked if the Governor had been hospitalized again since her trip to Colorado in 2015 and if she has suffered from mini strokes or other stroke-like attacks in the past. The Governor’s Office did not respond to those questions.
APR’s Josh Moon and Bill Britt contributed to this report.