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Thursday, April 21, 2016

Former Bentley legal aide Cooper Shattuck, with fleshly sins of his own, could take center stage as governor's scandal bears down on U of Alabama


Cooper Shattuck
The sex scandal engulfing Alabama governor Robert Bentley, according to a report yesterday, is moving rapidly toward Tuscaloosa--like a tornado on Doppler radar. Tuscaloosa, of course, is home to the University of Alabama, and the Bentley scandal might leave a number of folks on the UA campus with crimson faces.

Chief among them might be Cooper Shattuck, the university's general counsel. As UA's top legal officer, Shattuck manages the work of 21 attorneys and 15 support-staff members. Before returning to his alma mater to take its top legal job, Shattuck served as chief legal advisor for . . . Gov. Bentley.

It's easy to see why Bentley might have considered Shattuck an attractive addition to his staff; the two men seem to have quite a bit in common. Both have connections of various kinds to Rebekah Caldwell Mason, who as Bentley's senior advisor and mistress, helped set the scandal aflame. Both seem to have played roles in the curious stream of funds that have been flowing to Mason and her husband, Jon Mason, partly through the University of Alabama. Both apparently consider themselves men of God, but sources tell Legal Schnauzer that Shattuck (like Bentley) has allowed issues of the flesh to influence his professional life.

According to multiple news reports yesterday, UA has paid Jon Mason's company almost $75,000 this year for services related to billboards in Dallas and Phoenix, before Crimson Tide football games in those cities for the 2015-16 national-championship season. Mason's company, however, did not design, create, or install the billboard ads. It appears Mason's firm, JRM Enterprises, did little more than act as a go-between for the company that rents out the billboards.

Lisa Waldrop
Where does Cooper Shattuck fit into this picture? The answer is not clear yet. But we know, while still Bentley's advisor, he set up ACEGOV, a "dark money" nonprofit organization that has paid at least $15,000--and possibly much more--to Rebekah Caldwell Mason.

How is this for irony? Bentley named Shattuck and Rebekah Mason to his staff on the same day, January 13, 2011.

If Shattuck helped funnel money to Bentley's mistress, is it likely he was involved in schemes to funnel money to her husband? An ongoing federal investigation perhaps will provide clarity on that question.

Can you imagine UA's chief legal officer at the heart of a federal investigation into apparent slush funds for Gov. Bentley's mistress and her husband? That might be harder for the Crimson faithful to swallow than an Iron Bowl loss to Auburn.

It's not like Cooper Shattuck hasn't been involved in messy situations before. Within at least the past two years, our sources say he has engaged in an extramarital affair with Lisa Waldrop, who is assistant director of media and communication at Shelton State Community College in Tuscaloosa.

A 2012 article about Shattuck's move from the Bentley administration to UA described him as "married with four daughters." He was divorced in 2014, and it's not clear if he is currently married. It also is not clear if the affair with Waldrop is ongoing, but the two have paid a professional price for it.

Katie Osburne
Shattuck used to be an associate pastor at First United Methodist Church (FUMC) in Tuscaloosa. He oversaw the church's contemporary service, called The Bridge, and Waldrop served as its worship leader. The affair started via the church affiliation, and when top administrators became aware of it, Shattuck and Waldrop were asked to leave. They no longer appear as staff members on the FUMC Web site.

Shattuck also has played a curious role in championing the career of UA lawyer Katie Osburne. sources say. He reportedly hired Osburne to be his chief deputy at UA, even though there was no official posting for the job. Sources say Shattuck created the position specifically for Osburne, who has a relatively thin legal resume and was elevated over UA attorneys who have much more experience and stronger qualifications.

Published reports show that Osburne worked at Rosen Harwood, the same Tuscaloosa firm where Shattuck once worked. Published reports indicate Osburne graduated from law school in 2007. So, with less than 10 years of professional experience, she finds herself as the No. 2 legal officer for the three-campus UA System, which includes more than 63,000 students and almost 28,000 faculty and staff.

Is Katie Osburn qualified to hold that position--or is she the most qualified person on the UA legal staff to hold that position? Taxpayers, who fund her salary, might want to ask themselves that question.

We sought comment for this post from Shattuck, Waldrop, and Osburne, but they did not respond.

24 comments:

Anonymous said...

Something tells me Cooper Shattuck just threw up in his mouth a little bit.

Anonymous said...

On the Jon Mason issue--what he does for the University (and other companies) is not illegal. Companies hire as agencies to place ads all the time (print, online, billboard, etc) that they don't design. I am in marketing at a large firm in Alabama and we use them all the time.

I'm not saying that nothing fishy is going on at all with Jon Mason. I don't know the guy from Adam. I'm just providing context to what his company does.

As for Shattuck, sounds like another link in one of the most twisted stories I've ever followed. You should be writing about this story for two years...and still not get to the bottom of it!

legalschnauzer said...

Thanks for your insights, @12:28. I suspect a lot of Alabamians are learning how the billboard industry works these past two days. I don't think the issue, for now, is that Jon Mason has done anything illegal regarding billboard buys, placement, etc. I think the question is: Did he receive favorable treatment due to his wife's relationship with Governor Bentley? Al.com noted that UA had directly handled a number of billboard transactions in the past, without use of an intermediary like JRM. I suspect the fact a taxpayer-funded university is involved also adds to some of the questions surrounding this.

Anonymous said...

I doubt morale is real high in the UA Office of Counsel since Cooper Shattuck placed young Ms. Osburne over a whole bunch of more qualified people. That kind of thing tends to piss people off, especially those who have put in plenty of sweat equity for the university.

Anonymous said...

I figured there's more than just Bentley involved in this. Lock them up and pardon Siegelman and Scrushy.

Anonymous said...

Let's see . . . we have Robert Bentley, Cooper Shattuck, John Merrill, Rob Riley, and Luther Strange. What do they have in common? They are all conservative, churchy politicos who can't seem to keep their hands off the boobs (and other body parts) of women to whom they aren't married.

Anonymous said...

I know Shattuck and both Masons, and they all deserve each other. What a bunch of worms.

Anonymous said...

https://issuu.com/tuscaloosanews/docs/tmag_fall_2015_web

On page 115, there is a photo of Cooper and Lisa together at a UA event in July 2015. Based on that, it's probably safe to assume they are still together.

Anonymous said...

So is Shattuck still on the UA payroll as well as Executive Director of the Gulf State Park Project? Another double dipper?

http://www.al.com/news/mobile/index.ssf/2016/04/state_stuns_mayor_slams_door_o.html#incart_river_home_pop

Also why would the State shut down a local road without notifying local officials?

e.a.f. said...

How do these people even have to time to run a government? or Who was running the government and things while these affairs were going on. Not to put too fine a point on it, but affairs take time.

Anonymous said...

"well this is just a little Peyton Place and you're all Harper Valley hypocrites..." - lyrics from the song "Harper Valley PTA"

Anonymous said...

If the media and the bloggers keep pursuing the money and favoritism connections, this scandal is going to take down the whole "Tuscaloosa Brain Trust." As a native of Tuscaloosa, people have told me for years that is was corrupt and it looks like they've taken this corruption to a statewide level. And beyond.

Anonymous said...

Fire on the mountain, run boys, run!!!

AB said...

Mr. Schuler, you are a former newspaper man. I can only assume that the reason you are not employed in that capacity is because the newspaper business is subject to strict libel laws, and therefore requires vetting sources. Clearly, you have no regard for the truth or the people's personal and profession lives which you so callously disregard in the pursuit of you prurient blog. And it is obvious that the jail time you have served and the million multi-million dollar judgments brought against you for precisely this type of article have taught you nothing. To all those who have gloated with your self-righteous and self satisfied comments regarding Mr. Schuler's latest blog, you shame yourself.

AB said...

Ah. I just read the "all comments approved by author" stipulation. It will be interesting to see if you have the courage to post my comment. I'm not betting the ranch on that one.

Anonymous said...

AB, you are clearly an interested party. For that matter, a dumb one. Roger broke the Bentley Mason affair. With that said, Id say that gives him cred. Comments like yours are now laughable and shrugged. Roger has MORE than proven himself so why dont you crawl back under your rock with the other mucus covered critters. Keep up the good work Rog! Nice to have you back!

Anonymous said...

We had powerful people like Congressman Wayne Hays and Congressman Wilbur Mills destroy people, until Mr. Schuler came along.

legalschnauzer said...

AB --

(1) Why don't you tell us who you are? Or you can contact me privately at rshuler3156@gmail.com or (205) 381-5673. Would be glad to discuss.

(2) I assume that you are talking about this post. If so, what is untrue about it?

(3) Libel laws, by the way, don't apply just to newspapers. The broader law of defamation applies to all kinds of written and spoken material. Libel laws had nothing to do with my move from the newspaper business. I left to take an editorial position at UAB, in the UA System, where I worked for 20 years before someone associated with the Riley Machine cheated me out of my job.

(4) What was I supposed to "learn" from jail time and judgments against me? Are you saying those cases were conducted properly under the law? If so, can you show how they were lawful?

(5) Until you stand behind your comments and show you have some clue what you are talking about, I agree with @11:46. You come off as an interested party who doesn't like having his or her dirty laundry aired. You also sound like part of the white conservative elites who think they are above it all--who can engage in all kinds of shenanigans without fear of the cowed MSM bringing it out.

A final note: My credibility on the Bentley story, as @11:46, has been proven to be top-notch. On the Garrison/Strange and Riley/Duke stories, as a matter of law, my reporting was found NOT to be false or defamatory.

Feel free to take me on if you think that is wise, but you might find that is not such a good idea.

Anonymous said...

All hail the web press. Schuler, Watkins and Ripp

Anonymous said...

Schuler, I read your blog and believe much of it is true. Keep this in mind, the "white elites" do not have a monopoly on corruption!

legalschnauzer said...

I hear you, @2:30, but they pretty much have a monopoly on the corruption I've experienced personally--and the corruption I've reported involving other individuals.

Anonymous said...

Schnauzer, you only write about them. Not that they don't deserve it. Want to go through the list on the other side of the political isle? How about the crooks that were convicted in Bham and the mayor that is now in the pokey, just to mention a couple of instances. How about the Pres of the U.S. in the 90's? How about the mayor of Detroit that Watkins refers to so often. Trust me, they are on both sides -- big time. They should all be equally exposed! Please keep it up.

legalschnauzer said...

The point of this blog is not to cover corruption all over the country, "on both sides." It's to cover corruption (primarily in Alabama and Missouri) that I either have experienced myself or can prove via research. Those other cases have been, or can be, adequately covered at other outlets.

This is not a political blog to begin with. The legal and political worlds certainly connect in a number of our posts, but I'm not out to report on things from one political perspective or the other. Cheating comes in all colors.

I do agree that corruption of all stripes is a concern, and Republicans do not have the market cornered on it. But the legal corruption I've covered in Alabama is driven largely by so-called conservatives--although I've written scathing posts about corrupt Democratic judges, such as Robert Vance and Abdul Kallon (an Obama appointee). I've also been highly critical of Obama and Eric Holder for their failure to address Bush-era crimes.

I would argue that this blog is more "fair and balanced" than you might realize.

Anonymous said...

I agree, regarding corruption, it is everywhere, in both parties, liberals and conservatives. I don't understand why so many people argue about corruption stemming from only one party. If you pay any attention, it's pretty darn clear that it's not party-specific...In Alabama, I would argue that at least as many Democrats as Republicans have been in the sewer