|Gov. Robert Bentley (center) heads to the grand jury|
room in Montgomery on Wednesday
For all the examples of this blog's impact cited yesterday, we have a new one today. Gov. Robert Bentley appears to be among those testifying at a special grand jury in Montgomery County, convened by Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange. That's from a report today by Bill Britt of Alabama Political Reporter (APR). The grand-jury was impaneled on July 11, following a court motion filed by Strange. (See motion at the end of this post.)
Another report today, from John Archibald of al.com, says the grand jury is focused primarily on activities surrounding the extramarital affair between Bentley and former senior advisor Rebekah Caldwell Mason.
How did the affair come to light? Legal Schnauzer broke the story last August 31, becoming the first news outlet to report Rebekah Mason and an extramarital affair were at the heart of First Lady Diane Bentley's divorce complaint, which ended a 50-year marriage. The mainstream press and al.com did not start taking the story seriously until March 2016, when audio tapes surfaced of "Doctor Love" Bentley and Mason discussing his tendency to caress her breasts and grope her nether regions.
In the roughly seven-month period from the time I broke the story until audio tapes emerged, al.com spent much of its time attacking me as a blogger with "dubious credibiltiy," who had produced a story that was "smoke." Has al.com ever offered an apology and given the slightest credit to the journalist who actually broke the story (with tips from outstanding sources who have helped me break a number of other stories the MSM doesn't want to touch.)? Of course not.
Would Gov. Bentley ever have been caught in his Web of sexual and financial treachery -- and wound up appearing before a grand jury -- without our reporting at Legal Schnauzer? That's hard to say. Attorney Donald Watkins started publishing on the Bentley/Mason affair, and it's possible fallout, about the same time we did. I think it's likely that Watkins also would have broken the story, but without Legal Schnauzer, I'm not sure any other news outlet would have picked up on his reporting to help spread the word.
This much is certain: The Web press -- mostly Watkins and me -- broke and did almost all of the early heavy lifting on the Bentley/Mason scandal, which now is the subject of a grand-jury investigation. Would that have happened without independent journalism from the Web, without constraints that advertisers, publishers, and editors can place on MSM reporters? The answer is "absolutely not."
Gov. Robert Bentley and many of his associates are facing the music of a grand jury because of Donald Watkins and me. No wonder there are reports that Bentley has unlawfully used state and federal databases in an effort to trump up criminal charges against the two journalists who have unmasked him.
Grand juries meet outside of the public sphere, but here is key information that has been reported so far. Bill Britt reports that Stan Stabler and Hal Taylor, from the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency (ALEA) joined Bentley among those who entered the grand-jury room. Taylor was chief of staff to former ALEA director Spencer Collier. Here's more from APR:
Not only was APR there to observe those entering the Grand Jury, sources around the courthouse confirmed that others who appeared earlier in the week were J.T. Jenkins, ALEA’s second-in-command under Collier, and Ray Lewis, who served as Bentley’s “Body Man” before becoming Chief of Protective Services.“
“Lewis knows what skeletons are stashed in Bentley’s closet and where to go looking for them,” said a former Trooper who spoke to APR on conditions of anonymity.
The presence of Stabler and former ALEA staff would indicate at this stage the grand jury is hearing testimony concerning events leading to Bentley’s firing of Collier, for filing an affidavit concerning the criminal trial of former Speaker Mike Hubbard.
John Archibald provides more details about the grand jury's apparent focus.
Those identified as testifying were all intimately involved in the events leading to revelations by Collier that Bentley long had an improper relationship with his former political adviser Rebekah Caldwell Mason.
Collier said in March that Lewis and Stabler made him aware of "improper" and sexually explicit cell phone messages between the governor and Mason. Collier said he confronted the governor about those messages, but the governor refused to break off the relationship.
The situation came to a head after confrontational meetings in February relating to the Hubbard investigation and involving Collier, Bentley, Mason, Bentley's lawyers, Taylor and others.
The grand-jury investigation appears to revolve around the Bentley-Mason affair -- and Legal Schnauzer broke that story. That means whatever comes from the grand-jury room in Montgomery, Alabama, will have its roots in this blog's Bentley-Mason reporting, which started on August 31, 2015.
As for donations, they are very much needed and appreciated. Some readers who primarily use mobile devices might experience difficulty in finding the donate button for Legal Schnauzer. Here is a note about that issue:
The PayPal donation button is on the upper right hand side of blog where it says "Support The Schnauzer." 💥However, please note that the donation button is NOT VISIBLE on the mobile version which typically is the default for cell phones and other mobile devices.💥To access the PP donate button on cell phones and other mobile devices, scroll to the very bottom of the mobile site and click on "View Web Version." The web version is where you will see the PayPal button above the photo of a schnauzer on the right hand side. Thank you!
Here is the motion that AG Luther Strange filed, seeking a grand jury: