|Robert Bentley and Rebekah Caldwell Mason|
John A. Horn, U.S. attorney for the Northern District of Georgia, now is in charge of the probe, according to a report from Alabama Political Reporter (APR). The Public Integrity Section (PIN), of the U.S. Department of Justice, remains involved with the case. From APR's Bill Britt:
Horn, a career prosecutor, was appointed by the Obama administration in 2015, for the district that runs from the mountains of northern Georgia to the Atlanta suburbs in the south, and from the western border of Alabama to the two Carolinas in the east. The primary office is located in the US courthouse in Atlanta.
Bentley continues to claim he has done nothing unethical, or illegal. He recently reminded voters that God had chosen him to lead the State, and that he would finish that mission.
It appears Bentley is not taking the situation seriously. But Britt indicates the governor would be wise to change his mindset:
A task force from the FBI, the Postmaster General, and the IRS is conducting the investigation into allegations of obstruction of justice, fraudulent use of campaign contributions, improper use of State resources, and other potential criminal acts, according to former Bentley confidants, and staffers, who are cooperating with the investigators. The most serious scrutiny surrounds Bentley’s involvement with Rebekah Caldwell Mason, his former senior advisor, and alleged paramour.
Mason’s husband, Jon is also a topic of inquiry, as well as current Bentley staffers, and former insiders, who have been interviewed (All speaking on background, as to not compromise their role in the criminal investigation).
The probe is going well beyond, Bentley and the Masons, Britt reports:
Current staffers whose names have been mentioned in interviews are, Aide-de-camp Jake Jacobs, Director of Federal and Local Government Affairs Zach Lee, and Deputy Chief of Staff for Policy, Jon Barganier, according to two prominent sources. While there are no allegations of wrongdoing, by those individuals at this time there are serious questions being asked about a potential cover-up within the administration. Those who are believed to be under the greatest threat are ALEA Chief, Stan Stabler, and SBI Director, Gene Wiggins. Stabler has publicly made several statements and taken official actions in his roll as “Top Cop,” which has lead to his prominence as a suspect in a cover-up within ALEA and in the Bentley camp.
|John A. Horn|
While the federal probe into Bentley has taken on new life, the investigation by agents from the Alabama ethics commission has similarly entered a new phase, with another round of subpoenas being issued last week, according to those close to the investigation.
Why did Beck recuse himself from the case? It likely goes back to his days as a lawyer with the Montgomery firm Capell and Howard, which is known as Karl Rove's headquarters when he visits our fine state. Writes Britt:
The investigation into Governor Robert Bentley has taken a new turn, with the recusal of US Attorney for the Middle District of Alabama, George Beck. Those with knowledge of the investigation believe that Beck’s recusal is due to his long association with donor’s, consultants, and advisors, who have been been involved in various capacities with the Bentley administration.
Beck's exit almost certainly is not good news for Bentley and Co. Beck apparently has been acting like a retiree on the job. John A. Horn probably does not approach his work that way.
With Beck’s recusal, and the introduction of a host of outside players, Bentley, Mason, and others may face an uncertain future, as the weight of justice closes in on this beleaguered administration.