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Thursday, May 26, 2016

Will grand-jury investigation into Robert Bentley and Rebekah Mason scandal examine efforts to retaliate against citizen journalists, Donald Watkins and me?

Robert Bentley
The investigation of Alabama Governor Robert Bentley and former advisor Rebekah Caldwell Mason has been turned over to a federal grand jury, according to a report yesterday at al.com. That has special resonance here at Legal Schnauzer because, based on multiple news reports, the Bentley administration likely has taken illegal actions against citizen journalists--attorney Donald Watkins and me.

For some good news, Watkins reports on his Facebook page this morning that Bentley's "House of Fraud is Collapsing," that the governor and some of his top aides are toast.

On the bad-news side, my little family unit is suffering, physically and emotionally, forced to live like refugees in a hostile environment. If justice ever comes, I'm not sure we will survive to see it.

The illegal use of government resources to retaliate against journalists might go beyond Watkins and me--to include, in my case, a spouse and a furry loved one. My wife, Carol, and I, since being forced to move to our current (and hopefully temporary) location in Springfield, Missouri, have seen evidence that suggests Alabama and Missouri forces have engaged in a coordinated effort to steal many of our personal belongings, force us to the edge of homelessness, terrorize us with handguns and at least one assault weapon, and force us to live in a week-by-week flea-bag motel whose charms include bed-bug infestations and meth dealers around the corner.

In fact, one member of our family is suffering from physical symptoms that we think might be caused by an allergic reaction to bed bugs and the nasty residue they leave behind. But we don't have the resources to seek treatment. At the moment, we are not sure we can pay next week's rent, which means the roof over our heads might soon disappear.

In short, some of the same bad actors present in the Mike Hubbard trial--Bob Riley, Rob Riley, Luther Strange, Bill Baxley, perhaps Hubbard himself, and likely others--have tried to ruin us. And they might be pretty close to achieving that objective.

This is the real-world price a journalist can pay for daring to report accurately about the conservative-based corruption that has taken over our state at least since 1995, when Karl Rove helped Republican Perry Hooper become chief justice of the Alabama Supreme Court--in an uber close election that featured the kind of skulduggery we would see again in the 2000 Gore-Bush presidential race and the 2002 Siegelman-Riley gubernatorial race in Alabama.

Do you notice a trend here? Vote totals that once favor the Democrat, suddenly favor the Republican; ballots are either lost, not counted, or sealed; recounts that favor the Republican are held, but those that might favor the Democrat are denied or conducted in slipshod fashion. End result: The Rove/Republican candidate always wins.

Where do Bentley and Mason fit into this? Well, they entered into "public service" with a clear sense of entitlement. And why shouldn't they? The previous 15 years had taught them that Republicans--if they were white, conservative, and claimed Jesus as their guide--could get away with anything. Mike Hubbard decided to jump on that train, and he's now in Day 3 of a criminal trial on 23 counts of ethics-law violations.

Bentley and Mason also went for a wild ride on the "Sleaze Train," and they now face grand-jury scrutiny. This is from al.com's John Archibald:

The investigation into Gov. Robert Bentley, and the fallout of his relationship with former adviser Rebekah Caldwell Mason, is apparently moving to the grand jury.

A letter sent by a federal prosecutor to lawyers of people who have been questioned by the FBI in the Bentley affair, explains that George Beck, U.S. Attorney in Alabama's Middle District, recused himself from the investigation. He has been replaced on the case by a U.S. Attorney from Georgia.

Jonathan Ross, assistant U.S. Attorney in the Middle District, wrote the letter under the subject "Grand Jury Investigation." The note is the first evidence that Bentley's relationship with Mason or his attempts to hide that relationship is being examined by a grand jury.

It has already been made clear that investigators from the FBI, the IRS, the U.S. Postal Service and state agencies have begun asking questions of former Bentley staffers, executive security officers and others who were at one time close to the governor.

Meanwhile, Watkins indicates federal investigators are moving forward in a hurry, and the Bentley ship is about to sink:

Federal investigators are closing in on Alabama Governor Robert Bentley and his widespread criminal racketeering enterprise. This enterprise operates straight out of the governor’s office. . . .  
The end of Bentley’s criminal enterprise is rapidly approaching. His “House of Fraud” is collapsing. Bentley will be indicted and tried on federal racketeering and public corruption charges.

Earlier this month, Bentley lost a protective law enforcement shield that was provided to him by Montgomery U.S. Attorney George Beck, Jr., a staunch Bentley ally. Beck’s entire office has been removed from the ongoing criminal investigation by the Department of Justice (“DOJ”) in Washington, acting in conjunction with the U.S. Attorney in Atlanta. Beck’s coziness with the Bentley Administration disappointed the public, infuriated his staff, and was eventually too much for the DOJ to bear.

What else points to rough sledding ahead for the governor? Watkins spells it out, making reference to the governor's retaliatory efforts against the two journalists who broke the Bentley/Mason sex scandal. Al.com, perhaps sniffing a Pulitizer Prize in the future, has taken a serious interest in the story since audiotapes surfaced of Bentley talking of caressing Mason's breasts and happily exploring her nether regions.

But the story likely never would have gotten that far without the reporting Watkins and I did last August and September. In fact, al.com spent much of its time last fall attacking the reporter, me, who first reported on the sex scandal and mentioned Mason by name. The mainstream press mostly tried to ignore Watkins, even though he's proven to have spot-on inside information.

Writes Watkins in today's Facebook post:

In March 2016, the Alabama Council for Excellent Government (“ACEGov”), Bentley’s 501(c)(4) slush fund for channeling “dark money” to Rebekah Mason, essentially shut down. Federal investigators have subpoenaed the financial records of this “girlfriend” fund. In 2015, Mason received payments from ACEGov without the knowledge or approval of its board of directors.

In March 2016, Bentley fired Spencer Collier, the former head of the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency, for refusing the governor’s direct order to lie to state prosecutors in House Speaker Mike Hubbard’s criminal case and for refusing to use federal criminal databases to harass and retaliate against online journalists Roger Alan Shuler and me. Collier is cooperating with federal investigators.

Chief of staff Seth Hammett, executive assistant Wanda Kelly, chief of executive security Wendell Ray Lewis, communications director Jennifer Ardis, and a host of other staffers have also departed the governor’s office in what can only be described as an orderly exodus. Remaining staffers are quietly looking for other jobs. They all think the governor is erratic, delusional, and paranoid. Bentley, who is a known habitual liar, has already started blaming some of the departing staff members for his misdeeds.

If it's proven that Bentley participated in the trauma our family unit has experienced in Missouri--not to mention my bogus incarceration and the likely theft of our house in Alabama--I hope the feds nail him on the tallest cross they can find. And if there is an especially warm corner of Hell, I hope Robert Bentley, Rebekah Mason, and their fellow pieces of pond scum roast there for eternity.

I only hope there is another warm corner reserved for Bob Riley, Rob Riley, Bill Baxley, Jessica Medeiros Garrison, Bill Swatek and many others who have tried to run our lives--all because we vowed not to sit back and quietly take gross courtroom corruption.


Anonymous said...

Even though I don't always agree with your coverage of certain topics I am truly praying for you and your wife. May God watch over and protect you! Hang in there...tomorrow is a new day filled with hope.

Anonymous said...

I guess these attacks on you, Watkins and others are part of Bentley's "Christian Walk." Makes me want to throw up.

Anonymous said...

I assume the one not doing well is your little furry guy, Baxter?

legalschnauzer said...

Yes, you are correct, @1:22. We're not sure exactly what's wrong, but he hasn't eaten normally in 2-3 days, and that's always a concern. He hasn't been drinking much today. He's had some "inappropriate elimination" (peeing outside his box) in recent days, which can be a sign of several things, including a urinary tract infection. Also, he has asthma, and we now are having to deal with bed bug residue--plus, a number of smokers now live around us, and it wafts through our unit. He's not used to smoke, and we're concerned that, or some other environmental factor, is causing problems with his asthma. We're extremely concerned, and we don't have the resources to take him to the vet. Treatment might be as simple as a steroid shot, but we just don't know. Thanks for asking.

Anonymous said...

Have you been contacted regarding the grand jury?

legalschnauzer said...

No, I haven't, @1:36. I would help in any way I can, but I'm not sure I would know much. As an apparent target, who they were targeting behind my back, don't know what I could tell them at the moment.

Anonymous said...

If there is a Pulitzer in this, it should go to Legal Schnauzer and Watkins.

Anonymous said...

RICO civil lawsuit.

Anonymous said...

Have patience and wait for premastication. The cheats-liars-thieves are on someone's menu.

Anonymous said...

Beck recusing himself clears up a lot. I wonder if he would protect the Riley clan as well. It was so hard to get Beck and other Obama prosecutors appointed to office because the Republicans blocked everything. So, basically guys like Beck had to be respected by republicans to cover their asses.

I remember my hopes got up when Beck was appointed I was like man "Riley you better watch out here comes Obama."

Nothing happened and now I have to look at Karl Rove's mishapen head on Fox News. Thanks Obama now meet Mr. Trump.

Anonymous said...

Hulk Hogan 2020

Da Gipper said...

Can you set up a gofundme account so that people like myself can donate to help out?

Anonymous said...

@Da Gipper: Excellent idea! Hang in there, LS (and Carol)... whatever doesn't kill you makes you stronger.

Anonymous said...

Has there been any precedent on "shooting the messenger" where it was discovered by law enforcement and they were prosecuted? Has this ever happened? This is new ground for me.

mikkrikk said...

Steering off topic here, but it occurs to me while reading about the Hubbard trial that several people are involved in what can only be called quid pro quo given the low bar that was set in the Siegelman trial. Another very important issue in that trial was the low bar that was set for establishing personal benefit. For Hubbard, his lawyers mention that it was Craftsman Printers that benefited from a contract with the gas company, not Hubbard personally. But it is hard to separate the two when Siegelman did not personally benefit in any way from the Scrushy donation. Those against Siegelman say that he was on the line for paying back funds borrowed for his lottery campaign, but surely that connection is no stronger than this one between Craftsman and Hubbard.

Since Justice has refused to reconsider the Siegelman case, it is time to hold them accountable for investigating and prosecuting the shenanigans in Alabama today regarding Republicans, applying the very same standards that were used to get Siegelman out of the way. Those standards that were set in his trial will come back to bite Republicans on the butt.

Anonymous said...

I'd like to hear more about George Beck. You've written about him before.

Anonymous said...

Whilst I wouldn't want anyone to be ruined in the same way that Roger has there seems to be very little evidence in this self pitying post of any self reflection and taking responsibility for his own mistakes that have contributed to the mess he is in- qualities he seems to seek in others but does not have the self awareness to seek in himself. Make no mistake, the author of this blog has made some big mistakes.

Strange and Riley way well have had affairs, maybe perjury was committed in the resulting cases, but the fact is that Roger published allegations about people online without evidence to support it that could be presented in court, thereby leaving himself vulnerable to losing the defamation suits that followed. Whether or not it was true misses the point, you need evidence. Without the evidence you are the cause of your own misfortune and actually have done a disservice to the truth and accurate reporting as its now much more difficult for anyone else to get the bottom of these issues than when you first got involved and before you lost the cases.

Maybe a bit of self reflection and owning up to your own mistakes in life could be the order of the day. A bit harder than attacking others that though isn't it?

Robby Scott Hill said...

Hubbard & Bentley are being held accountable for their actions only because you had the courage to continue this blog, especially in your darkest hour after your release from imprisonment & the unlawful sale of your home. Nobody at al dot com or major media said shit, in fact a few of them did their best to help Bentley cover it up. We don't have an independent press in Alabama. What we do have is story tellers who like to suck one for a paycheck. Isn't it wrong that they hang their hats in nice homes & troll Ashley Madison for sex while others struggle? I'm really surprised that people haven't started killing professional journalists & lawyers yet. If the bar & the press had been doing their jobs, the state wouldn't be in the shape it's in today.

Anonymous said...

Bullshit. He had sources. Go fly a kite. You probably voted for Bentley.

legalschnauzer said...

Thanks for your comment, @9:07. It's a classic example of someone who is ignorant of the facts and the law but still manages to write a comment with value--because I can use it to refute all the limp-wristed garbage you've presented. You've also raised a number of psychological issues, trying to pin deficits on me, while you reveal yourself to be a disturbed, maybe dangerous, individual. I'll make a few points to get us back into the world of reality, and hopefully, educate folks about some important legal and emotional issues that your comment raises:

(1) I don't think you know the meaning of the term "self-pity." Here are two definitions I've found:

(a) "excessive, self-absorbed unhappiness over one's own troubles."

(b) "the feeling that your situation is worse than other people’s and that people should feel sad for you."

By my unofficial count, this post has about 28 paragraphs, and four of them reference our personal situation. Much of the post focuses on reporting by other journalists, plus the suffering of others in Alabama's justice system. Self-absorbed? Hardly.

I see in the post no expression of unhappiness, that our situation is worse than others', or that people should feel sad for us. Again, you are throwing around a term, and you don't know what it means.

(2) You state in the first sentence that you wouldn't "want anyone to be ruined in the same way Roger has." So what's your problem? You admit that we've been ruined. You think it's my fault, Carol's fault? What evidence do you have of that? I don't see that you've presented any.

(3) You suggest I've made "some big mistakes." Well, what are they. You list only one that I can see. You claim I wrote about affairs involving Luther Strange and Rob Riley without having any evidence. In truth, you have no clue what evidence I had, do you? Are you saying journalists are bound by the same rules of evidence that apply in court? If so, you are clueless about the law and journalism.

(4) You say this supposed lack of evidence left me "vulnerable to losing the defamation suits that followed." This sounds like Jethro Bodine wrote it. Have you "done grajee-ated sixth grade," like Jethro. I have my doubts. A few points for those who care about legal procedure, constitutional rights--stuff like that:

(a) The burden of proof in any civil lawsuit is on the plaintiffs, which would be Riley/Duke and JM Garrison here. If they can't prove that my reporting was false and defamatory, my evidence is not an issue--and I don't even have to present it (even though I could have, and would have). I never had a chance to present evidence in either case because there was no discovery and no trial.

(b) I didn't "lose" either lawsuit. In fact, as a matter of law, the proceedings "such as they were" proved my reporting was NOT false or defamatory. Again, that's because there was no discovery, no trial, no jury--nothing the law requires for the plaintiffs to prove their case. That means they did not prove their case, and if you want to use your childish terms, I "won" both cases, as a matter of law.


legalschnauzer said...

(5) Then you give us this doozy. "Whether or not it was true misses the point, you need evidence. Without the evidence you are the cause of your own misfortune."

(a) This might be the single most ignorant statement I've ever seen on the Internet regarding the law. You should be "proud." Again, the burden of proof is on the plaintiffs. Only if they make their "prima facie" case, does my evidence (gathered via my reporting and discovery, which we never had in these court cases) become a factor. You act like plaintiffs can file lawsuits in this country without having any responsibility. In fact, they have the No. 1 burden. If they can't meet it--and public records show neither Riley/Duke nor JMG did--they lose their case. Again, if you don't understand that simple, foundational concept, you have no business reading a blog about the law. You just make yourself look like an idiot.

(6) As for psychological issues, you might want to engage in a little introspection yourself. You admit we've been ruined, you present zero evidence that we are responsible for it, and yet you seem to delight in dumping dirt on us--playing the classic "blame the victim" game. I guess you are the type who would blame a woman for wearing a tight skirt on the night she was raped. Or you would blame a 14-year-old boy for being sexually abused by a priest. After all, the kid shouldn't have gone to that church. You show an utter lack of empathy, which is the No. 1 sign of sociopathy. You show an utter lack of regard for the rights of others, which is the No. 2 sign of sociopathy.

I don't have the training to make a diagnosis of you--and I'm not interested in trying to make one--but I do know this: Whoever you are, I wouldn't want to be anywhere near your area code. I see signs of a deeply disturbed and potentially dangerous person--the kind who is unlikely to seek help or engage in the kind of introspection he recommends for others.

Good luck, and please stay away from me and my loved ones. I feel sorry for anyone who has to live with, or near, you.

Anonymous said...

@9:07 AM -- Is that you Jessica?

Anonymous said...

I'm curious what evidence you have that you say you would have presented in the Garrison case if you had the chance? Whats the point in hiding it?

legalschnauzer said...

@7:53--Contact me via private e-mail at rshuler3156@gmail.com or (205) 381-5673. Would be glad to discuss.

Anonymous said...

I don't know the nature of the evidence in your possession, Mr. Schnauzer, but I hear a number of powerful individuals are holding photos of Luther Strange and Ms. Garrison in what you might call "compromising positions."

I also hear that similar photos exist of Rob Riley and Liberty Duke. My understanding is those were taken at Dauphin Island, a favorite "passion place" for them.

Finally, I hear there are quite a few more photos of Bill Pryor, besides the ones you have published. I hear there are 8-12 more, at least.

I think you were thrown in jail not because of what you had published but because of what someone was afraid you would publish.

Anonymous said...

I hope to god the photographs do exist and someone releases them at some point, as at the moment the issue is at a complete impasse and we never get to the bottom of it. People here tend to believe LS is in the right, but until evidence reaches the public sphere as in the Bentley case we may never know for sure.

LS, can you at least give us a clue what evidence you have and why you haven't published it? Is it just sources or is there some more hard evidence as well? If its just sources, is it multiple sources or just one? Go on you can give us a bone!

Anonymous said...

Please write about David Bynes.

Anonymous said...

@3:03 am -- ROFLMAO... is that you again, Jessica?

Robby Scott Hill said...

Photographs would not be necessary for a federal grand or petit jury. The federal courts lack the subject matter jurisdiction to try someone for adultery. It's Alabama state law that requires photographs or a showing that a married woman crossed the threshold of a dwelling with a man not her husband & the US Supreme Court has ruled that journalists don't have to disclose their sources. SCOTUS has also ruled that "professional journalists" receive no additional protections than ordinary citizens who choose to investigate & report. Where Bill Baxley & Jessica Garrison made themselves look like complete idiots was when they came out and said Roger wasn't a journalist, but yet, they asked him to retract the story under Alabama's shield statute which is designed to protect "professional journalists." On the one hand, they were admitting he was was a journalist & on the other hand they said he wasn't. That was a serious strategic error that Baxley made which could have been brought up on appeal had Roger not been unlawfully jailed & could have secured non-court appointed counsel.

e.a.f. said...

Just read Bill Britt's report on the Hubbard trial. Seem the witness Williamson, has had "different recollections" regarding the meeting. Interesting read of the article, concerning day 3 of the trial.

it would appear it is not unreasonable to conclude there is a back story.

Anonymous said...

I sure everyone agrees that journalists shouldn't have to disclose their sources, but if they don't then they can also expect to be disbelieved and could be sued for defamation depending on the circumstances.

What I don't understand is that Roger seems to be claiming he has evidence he would have presented in court if he had the chance but then he hasn't published it here, I'm curious why not?

Sorry I've only recently begun following the saga so I may have missed some elements.

Anonymous said...

@3:09 am -- Roger has given you his contact information. Robby Scott Hill has outlined the legal illegitimacy of the completely specious Garrison "defamation" claim -- we Yankees call them SLAPP suits. And there are plenty of pieces on this website that would answer your "questions" but it's pretty clear that's not why you're here.