A motion to compel disgraced former Gov. Robert Bentley to provide donors and contributions to the political nonprofit that paid his girlfriend was filed in Montgomery Circuit Court on Monday in the wrongful termination suit brought by former Alabama Law Enforcement Agency Secretary Spencer Collier.
Collier is seeking information on donations to ACEGOV a 501(c)(4) set-up to promote Bentley’s political agenda by then-General Counsel Cooper Shattuck in February 2015.
One prominent question is whether donations to ACEGOV were intended to influence the state’s felony case against Speaker of the House Mike Hubbard.
Collier was fired from his position at ALEA after he refused to lie to prosecutors in the Hubbard case as Bentley had ordered him to do.
The germ of Collier’s firing grew out of actions taken by Hubbard’s attorney Lance Bell who in January 2016 contacted ALEA to arrange for attorney and radio host Baron Coleman to issue a complaint accusing prosecutor Matt Hart of leaking grand jury information. Bell’s actions are recounted in an affidavit by Hal Taylor current ALEA Secretary. The matter was dismissed by Hubbard’s trial judge Jacob Walker III.
Among ACEGOV expenditures was a payment of $2,500 per month plus expenses to Bentley’s paramour, Rebekah Caldwell Mason’s, company, RCM Communications, Inc., who is also a defendant in Collier’s lawsuit. Bentley testified that Mason was also being paid through his 2014 Campaign, even two years after the election.
In Montgomery, ACEGOV was widely known as the “girlfriend fund,” because it was used to pay Bentley’s former special advisor, Mason.
“The fact that a portion of these contributions were used by ACEGOV to pay Bentley’s girlfriend, a co-defendant in this case, is clearly relevant to this case,” states Collier’s motion. “The requested information goes directly to the pattern and practice claims, the potential bias between Bentley and Mason and punitive damages.”
Collier argues he is entitled to know if any money funneled to Mason through ACEGOV came from Hubbard supporters, which would go to Bentley’s motive to destroy him.
In essence, it’s believed that ACEGOV was a honey hole to curry favors with Bentley who then may have acted to benefit donors.
In a recent deposition, Bentley admitted that he solicited contributions to ACECOV from various people. However, other than Franklin Haney, “Bentley refused to identify any other donor or the amount of donations claiming the information was somehow privileged because ACEGOV is a 501(c)(4), according to Collier’s motion.
Haney reportedly contributed $300,000 to Bentley after the 2014 election. Bentley later encouraged the TVA and others to sell the Bellefonte Nuclear Power Plant in northeast Alabama to Haney.
Collier is not asking for records from ACECOV; he is merely asking that Bentley be compelled to testify to his personal knowledge about donors and contributions he solicited for the non-profit.
“Bentley was not an incorporator of ACEGOV, was never on its Board and never represented the 501(c)(4) in an official capacity,” according to Collier’s motion.
This motion to compel is the latest in a round of legal wrangling where the state has paid upwards of $300,000 to defend Bentley.
Gov. Kay Ivey in campaign advertisements says she cleaned up Bentley’s mess. However, her administration has done nothing to end the lawsuits which resulted from Bentley’s failed tenure as governor.