|Gov. Robert Bentley and Rebekah Caldwell Mason|
The document, filed by Mason's own lawyers in a civil case, provides the most direct evidence yet that Mason is in deep doo-doo. If Mason knows she is under criminal scrutiny, Bentley likely also knows the feds are on his tail--although his lawyers have yet to file a motion similar to the one Mason's lawyers filed in the wrongful-termination lawsuit of former ALEA chief Spencer Collier.
Multiple news outlets, including this one, have reported for more than a month that Bentley, Mason and perhaps other members of the administration are the targets of an investigation led by Georgia federal prosecutor John A. Horn. Now, Mason's lawyers are asking for a stay in the Collier civil case because of the criminal investigation--and the possibility that Mason's testimony in the civil case could incriminate her in the brewing criminal matter.
This has all kinds of potential implications, as attorney Donald Watkins explains on his Facebook page:
Yesterday, attorneys for Rebekah Mason publicly acknowledged in a court filing what our Facebook news team first reported in April 2016 – Rebekah and Governor Robert Bentley are the targets of a federal criminal probe into their racketeering and public corruption activities. What was once a torrid love affair between Bentley and Rebekah is now a game of survival for each lover.
Bentley, 73, and Mason, 44, are expected to be criminally charged by the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) for using Bentley’s position as governor to execute a wide ranging racketeering conspiracy involving wire and mail fraud, tax fraud, bribery, money laundering, the unauthorized use of the federal National Crime Information Center (NCIC) and the Law Enforcement Tactical System (LETS) databases, and related criminal charges.
That is powerful stuff, and one wonders if Mason and Bentley realize how much trouble they could be in. Mason's lawyers seem to understand, and they have provided the most direct evidence yet that the Good Ship Bentley is taking on water and listing badly--with perhaps dire consequences for those on board. Writes Watkins:
Federal investigators are aggressively probing the couple’s racketeering enterprise with an eye toward expediting the initiation of criminal charges against Bentley, Mason, and other co-conspirators. The governor and his accomplices are staring down the barrel of a criminal indictment that is expected to set a record for the number of felony charges in a single federal criminal case. Bentley has been identified as the “kingpin” of the couple’s racketeering enterprise.
Bentley and Mason are well aware of their status as targets of the federal criminal investigation. This is why Mason formally requested a state court in Montgomery to place a hold on a wrongful termination case filed by Spencer Collier, the former head of the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency (ALEA). In March 2016, Collier publicly confirmed the Bentley-Mason “sex for power” affair. Collier has also confirmed that Bentley ordered him to use the NCIC and LETS databases to impermissibly target and harass online journalists Roger Alan Shuler and me, which Collier refused to do.
As you can see from that last sentence, this hits close to home. That a governor allegedly would attempt to use criminal databases to intimidate and harass citizen journalists--Watkins and me--well, it sounds like the mafia has taken over the governor's mansion. I've seen signs that elements of organized crime have infiltrated Alabama government for 15 years or more.
From Bentley's warped perspective, an intimidation campaign probably made sense. After all, his scandal probably would have gone away a long time ago if it weren't for the "non-traditional press," specifically Watkins and me.
Legal Schnauzer broke the story of the Bentley/Mason affair in a post dated August 31, 2015. Watkins was right there, at the same time, writing a four-part series titled "Forbidden Love – Robert Bentley’s Secret Love Affair," which provided details about the affair and its implications for Alabama government. In a searing piece last September 16, titled "Executive Betrayal – Robert Bentley’s Fleecing of Taxpayers and Donors," Watkins described financial shenanigans that made this much more than a sex scandal.
Bill Britt and Alabama Political Reporter (APR), another Web-based news site, broke key elements of the story, including news that Bentley had targeted Watkins and me--and that the governor apparently had sought medical records on at least one of his critics.
Could Bentley, Mason, and perhaps others, be headed for federal prison? One can never predict what an Alabama jury might decide--if the matter gets that far. But this much seems clear: The Bentley/Mason story, which might expose unimaginable corruption in Alabama government, probably would have fizzled out long ago without the Web press.
The mainstream press, led by al.com, has produced some solid journalism since reports broke in late March of audio and text messages between Bentley and Mason. But until then, al.com spent much of its time attacking me as a blogger with "dubious credibility," whose reporting generated nothing more than "smoke."
Well, we now know that "smoke" was right on target--that it included raging fire, you might say. With the help of Watkins and Britt, our blog has helped bring us to a point where we know the governor and his mistress are aware they are in deep trouble--that an entire administration might soon be crumbling.