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Former ALEA Chief confirms Ivey’s emergency hospitalization and cover-up

Bill Britt

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Gov. Kay Ivey speaks at a bill signing ceremony in Montgomery. (Chip Brownlee/APR)

After then-Lt.Gov. Kay Ivey was rushed to a Colorado hospital with stroke-like symptoms, she and her staff attempted a cover-up to keep the public ignorant of her medical condition.

A year ago, when APR reported the emergency hospitalization, Ivey’s staff equivocated and then went to extraordinary lengths to deny, evade and mislead the public about the incident in which Ivey reportedly suffered a series of mini-strokes.

Ivey’s Chief of Staff hid hospitalization after stroke-like symptoms

In 2017, former Alabama Law Enforcement Agency Secretary Spencer Collier would not confirm APR‘s report, but with just weeks until the Nov. general election, APR contacted Collier and others about Ivey’s 2015 medical emergency, and this time Collier confirmed Ivey’s hospitalization, the cover-up and the steps taken to punish the trooper who sat by Ivey’s bedside in a Colorado Springs medical facility while she recovered from what was reported as mini-strokes.

Ivey’s hospitalization occurred while attending the Aerospace State Association Annual Meeting in Colorado Springs. She was reportedly hospitalized for three days or more. She was accompanied by Chief of Staff Steve Pelham and Security Officer Thomas Andrew “Drew” Brooks.

“I remember vividly; I was contacted by Jack Clark, who was chief of protective services, which is an appointed position. Chief Clark advised me that he was contacted by Lt. Gov. Ivey’s detail leader,” Collier said. “Chief Clark advised me that the detail leader contacted him and stated that he made the decision to rush Governor Ivey to the hospital after what he deemed was a medical emergency. And Chief Clark advised me that, ‘oh, she was admitted to the hospital and the initial diagnosis was stroke-like symptoms.’”

Shortly after Ivey replaced disgraced Gov. Robert Bentley, APR asked Ivey’s office about the crisis situation. At the time, her office first denied the event had taken place. Days later when other media outlets pressed the issue, Ivey’s spokesperson said that she had suffered altitude sickness.

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This was a ruse Collier said that was first concocted at the time of her hospitalization.

“Initially the trooper was told, ‘don’t tell anyone,’” said Collier. Later, they changed the story by admitting to altitude sickness, according to Collier.

“Chief Clark said the trooper in charge of her security detail was later told to report that Gov. Ivey was suffering from altitude sickness,” Collier recalls. “That was not the case, and the trooper obviously knew that was not the case. And, pointed that out to Chief Clark, who then told me.”

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The order to make a false statement to a superior officer was given by Ivey’s Chief of Staff Steve Pelham, according to Collier and others who were familiar with the cover-up.

Immediately upon being informed of Ivey’s hospitalization, Collier says he alerted then-Gov. Bentley who asked to be kept apprised of the ongoing situation.

Collier is currently suing Bentley for wrongful termination, and the Ivey administration has paid over $300,000 to protect Bentley in the suit, which is still ongoing.

Bentley has told close associates that he was fully aware of Ivey’s incident in Colorado as well as other things he claims to be holding.

When Trooper Brooks returned from Colorado, Collier said he was worried about his future because he had not hidden Ivey’s emergency and was afraid of reprisal.

“He [Brooks] did the right thing by notifying his supervisor, just based on what we call continuity of operations or continuity of government,” Collier said. “He followed policy, and he did the right thing by notifying his supervisor but being instructed not to tell anyone raised red flags for everyone.”

Collier strongly asserts that he is not trying to make an issue with Ivey’s health. “I can relate,” he said.

However, he says the decision to not be truthful was a political decision. “Executive Security Troopers are trained not to focus on political discussions and especially not repeat them. However, a line was clearly crossed when the Trooper was instructed also to be deceitful,” Collier said. “I think the Trooper showed integrity by recognizing that withholding information pertaining to continuity of operations from his chain of command outweighed his concern for maintaining his position as her detail leader.”

But not keeping Ivey’s secret did have consequences for Brooks.

“I received a call from her [Ivey] one morning not long after the Colorado incident, and I mean early, like six in the morning, to meet her at Balch & Bingham in Montgomery,” Collier said. The meeting at a private law office was unusual but that Ivey frequently called him directly on security matters rather than following the proper chain of command.

“Of course I immediately was concerned and thought it was a law enforcement issue. I got up, got dressed, and met her in a private office at Balch & Bingham,” he recalled. “She wanted that particular trooper [Brooks] transferred that day, effective. She stated that it was over a breach in her security protocol. She basically accused the trooper of trying to hack into her email. So she wanted him transferred.”

Collier also said he didn’t believe Ivey’s explanation for reassigning Brooks. “I did not believe Gov. Ivey’s explanation that he attempted to access her email. Such behavior would have warranted an internal investigation, and she very clearly did not want that to happen.”

Brooks was reassigned that day by noon, according to Collier. When Brooks was transferred, his pay was automatically cut 7.5 percent. Troopers assigned to Executive Security within the Protective Services Unit automatically receive a three-step raise while working on a protection detail. Brooks was transferred to a drivers’ license station in Houston County.

The Ivey administration’s claims of altitude sickness run contrary to medical information provided by the Cleveland Clinic.

Colorado Springs, located at the eastern foot of the Rocky Mountains is 6,035 feet above sea level. Ivey traveled to Colorado Springs from Montgomery where the elevation is only 240 feet. However, according to the Cleveland Clinic, “altitude sickness, also called mountain sickness, is a group of general symptoms that are brought on by climbing or walking to a higher and higher altitude (elevation) too quickly. Altitude sickness can affect anyone who goes to high altitudes without giving the body time to adjust to the changes in air pressure and oxygen level. High altitude is defined as 8,000 – 12,000 feet above sea level. Very high altitude is 12,000 – 18,000 feet and altitudes above 18,000 feet are considered extremely high altitude.”

According to the Cleveland Clinic, “Severe altitude sickness is an emergency situation, and the affected person must be taken to a lower altitude immediately.”

However, Ivey remained in Colorado Springs, 2,000 feet below what the Cleveland Clinic determines as high altitude.

Collier says the trooper’s report, which should still be on file at ALEA, list TIAs as the cause of Ivey’s three day emergency hospitalization. TIA stands for Transient Ischemic Attacks often referred to as “Mini Stokes.” The Stroke Association points out that these temporary episodes are more appropriately called “warning stroke…because they can indicate the likelihood of a coming stroke.” About 1 in 3 people who has a TIA goes on to experience a subsequent stroke.”

He also says text messages and emails between her office at the time of the incident will confirm his story. However, he expects the Ivey administration to deny his account. Collier says he is willing to take a polygraph test and challenges Ivey and Pelham to do the same.

During the Republican primary, GOP State Sen. Bill Hightower challenged Ivey and other gubernatorial candidates to release their medical records. Ivey, after brushing off Hightower’s challenge, did eventually provide a statement from a doctor who also happened to be one of her campaign contributors.

Why Ivey and her staff felt compelled to cover-up her hospitalization and then lie to the media is unclear. Perhaps more disturbing was her move to demote a trooper for following protocol to secure her safety.

Collier never mentioned Trooper Brooks by name.

Related reports:

Gov. Ivey’s office says she’s “healthy,” doesn’t dispute APR report

Gov. Kay Ivey promises she’s healthy: “I’ve never felt better”

Gov. Ivey refuses to answer our questions about her health

Governor’s Office says 2015 hospitalization was the result of altitude sickness

Why does the Ivey Administration continue to mislead the public and press?

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Elections

FarmPAC endorses congressional candidate Barry Moore

“I’m pleased that FarmPAC has seen fit to endorse me in this election,” Moore said.

Brandon Moseley

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Congressional candidate Barry Moore (VIA MOORE CAMPAIGN)

Republican congressional candidate Barry Moore thanked the Alabama Farmers Federation political action committee, FarmPAC, for endorsing Moore in next week’s 2nd Congressional District general election race.

“I’ve always been proud of the fact that I grew up on a farm,” Moore said. “Farm life teaches you to respect God’s good earth and everything in it. It taught me the value of hard work, and that not everything, like the weather, will always go the way you want it to no matter what you do or how hard you work. That’s something I think a lot of people these days could do with learning.”

“I’m pleased that FarmPAC has seen fit to endorse me in this election,” Moore said. “I’ll continue to be a strong supporter of our farmers and all the businesses that support and rely on them, just like I’ve always been. District 2 is an agricultural district first and foremost, and we can’t forget that.”

“I look forward to working in the next Congress to support Alabama’s farmers and agribusiness by making it easier for them to access new markets and new technologies,” Moore added. “We also need to make sure they aren’t weighed down by excessive regulations and have the backing they need from Washington to compete globally. I have every confidence that, given a chance, Alabama’s farmers can compete with anyone, anywhere. My job in Congress will be to make sure they have that chance.”

A full list of FarmPAC’s endorsements is available here. FarmPAC previously endorsed Dothan businessman Jeff Coleman in the Republican primary, but he was bested by Moore in a Republican primary runoff.

Moore faces Democratic nominee Phyllis Harvey-Hall for the open seat.

Moore is a veteran, small businessman, husband, and father of four from Enterprise. Moore and his wife, Heather, own a waste management business in Enterprise. Moore was elected to the Alabama House of Representatives in 2010 and re-elected in 2014.

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Incumbent Congresswoman Martha Roby, R-Alabama, is retiring from Congress after five terms.

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Jones to attend Auburn student forum, Tuberville hasn’t yet responded to invitation

Jones has agreed to attend the forum, but it was unclear whether Tuberville planned to attend.

Eddie Burkhalter

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Sen. Doug Jones, left, and Senate candidate Tommy Tuberville, right.

The College Democrats at Auburn University and the College Republicans at Auburn University have asked U.S. Senator Doug Jones, D-Alabama, and his Republican opponent, Tommy Tuberville, to attend a student forum on Wednesday.

“We are excited to invite the candidates running for our U.S. Senate seat and provide this opportunity for any Auburn student to hear directly from them, and we hope it will inform our student bodies’ decisions with the November 3rd election only days away,” said Carsten Grove, president of the College Democrats at Auburn University, in a statement.

Jones has agreed to attend the forum, Auburn University College Democrats confirmed for APR on Sunday, but it was unclear whether Tuberville planned to attend. The student organization  was still awaiting a response from Tuberville’s campaign.

Jones has for months requested Tuberville join him in a debate, but Tuberville has declined.

“AUCR takes great pleasure in coming together with AUCD to co-host the Alabama Senate candidates in this forum. We are looking forward to a very informative and constructive event,” said Lydia Maxwell, president of the College Republicans at Auburn University.

Dr. Ryan Williamson, assistant professor of political science, is to emcee the forum, which will be open to all Auburn University students in the Mell Classroom Building at 6 p.m., according to a press release from the College Democrats at Auburn University.

Students will be permitted 30 seconds to ask a question of either candidate, and each candidate will have two minutes to answer, according to the release.

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Capacity at the forum will be limited and precautions taken due to COVID-19. Any student with an Auburn ID is welcome and attendance will be first come, first served.

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Trump Truck and boat parades this weekend

Brandon Moseley

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Trump boat parade

As Election Day draws near, Alabama Republicans are excited about promoting the re-election of Donald J. Trump as President and the election of Tommy Tuberville for U.S. Senate. This weekend two pro-President Trump events are happening in the state. There will be a truck parade from Ashland to Phenix City on Saturday sponsored by the Clay County Republican Party, while there will also be a boat parade on Wilson Lake in the Shoals sponsored by the Colbert County Republican Party on Sunday.

The pickup trucks will assemble at the Ashland Industrial Park in Clay County, 8240 Hwy 9, Ashland. There is a pre-departure rally at 10:00 a.m. central standard time. The trucks will depart at 11:00 a.m. and then proceed on a parade route that will take them into the bitterly contested swing state of Georgia. The Trump Pickup Parade will wind through east Alabama and West Georgia traveling through LaGrange and Columbus before concluding near the Alabama/Georgia line in Phenix City, 332 Woodland Drive, Phenix City at approximately 2:00 p.m. central time. Speakers will begin at 3:00. Trump flags will be on sale at the event.

The Phenix Motorsports Park will be hosting what sponsor hope could possibly the world’s largest Pickup Tuck parade in U.S. history that is routing over 50 mile through Georgia in effort to “pickup” President Trump’s numbers in GA.

A number dignitaries have been invited to address the Phenix City rally, including Coach Tuberville. Former State Sen. Shadrack McGill, Trump Victory Finance Committee member former State Rep. Perry O. Hooper Jr., and Paul Wellborn, the President and CEO of the largest Family owned Kitchen Cabinet manufacture in the USA are among the featured speakers who have committed to speak at the event.

Entertainment will be provided by: Charity Bowden, an up and coming country music singer who was the runner up on “The Voice”. Charity will sing ‘I am Proud to be an American’ as well as songs from her Voice performances. The McGill Girls will also perform. The three beautiful and talented sisters will be singing patriotic songs in three part harmony. Geoff Carlisle, a professional DJ will be keeping the crowd pumped with music and entertainment.

Following the speakers and the entertainment there will Trump truck-vs- Joe Bidden truck races down the drag strip for the finale.

The Northwest Alabama boat parade will be on Sunday. The boats will gather at 2:00 p.m. near Turtle Point and then the flotilla will parade around the open waters of Wilson Lake til 3_00 p.m.. There will be a contest for best decorated Trump boats.

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Trump supporters have held a number of large boat parades across the state to show their support for the re-election of Pres. Trump.

Boat parade sponsors say that this parade will be: pro-American, pro-law enforcement, pro-military.

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Elections

Opinion | Doug Jones’s pathway to victory: Substance over lies

Jones said his work in the Senate should prove to the people of the state that party matters less than productivity. 

Josh Moon

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Alabama Sen. Doug Jones speaks during the Democratic National Convention.

Alabama Sen. Doug Jones believes voters will ultimately see through Tommy Tuberville’s lazy campaign and lies, and that enough of them will be moved by his work over the last two years to send him back to D.C. 

Jones’ comments came during a lengthy interview on the Alabama Politics This Week podcast. He also discussed his plans to address some of Alabama’s most pressing issues and also praised Sen. Richard Shelby, an Alabama Republican.  

But it was Jones’ comments about Alabama voters — and whether too many of them are incapable of moving away from the Republican Party — that were most interesting. Jones still believes there are open-minded voters in the state, and that there isn’t enough attention being paid to polls showing a growing dissatisfaction in Alabama with President Donald Trump. 

“There are a number of things that Donald Trump has done that people (in Alabama) don’t agree with,” Jones said. “There are a number of things that he’s done that’s hurt Alabama and that they’re not OK with. That’s where I come in.”

Jones said his work in the Senate, where he’s sponsored the most bipartisan legislation over the last two years, should prove to the people of the state that party matters less than productivity. 

“I tell everyone, you owe it to yourself to look at every candidate and every issue,” Jones said. “I do that. I’ve been a Democrat all my life but I don’t think that I have ever pulled a straight lever. Because I look at every issue. I will tell you that there have been times that I didn’t vote for people who are Democrats for whatever reason — I just couldn’t do it. I think we owe it to ourselves to do that.”

Jones had the perfect example to drive the point home. 

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“Y’all all know our state auditor, Jim Zeigler? Jim wasn’t always a Republican. Jim’s first runs for office were as a Democrat. 

“I rest my case.”

You can listen to the full interview at the Alabama Politics This Week website, or you can subscribe to the podcast on Apple Podcasts, Google Play, Spotify or wherever you get your podcasts. 

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