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Monday, April 10, 2017

Gov. Robert Bentley resigns after reaching plea deal, but will Alabama citizens ever see information that the governor and his aides kept out of public view?


Gov. Robert Bentley's mugshot
(From wkrg.com)
Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley resigned from office this afternoon in a possible climax to a scandal that began with our reports at Legal Schnauzer about his extramarital affair with senior adviser Rebekah Caldwell Mason and its financial implications. (See here and here and here.) We use the term "possible climax" because evidence strongly suggests justice has not been done in this case.

Is Bentley's plea deal a good deal for Alabama citizens? The answer is absolutely not, and that's because it essentially says, "Cover up your crimes, and it's likely to benefit you." We will explain in a moment.

All three of the posts with links above -- the last one showing that Mason and her husband, Jon, had made almost $1 million during the Bentley Administration -- were published before any other news outlet (mainstream or otherwise) wrote about the Bentley/Mason scandal.

One could argue that a one-man blog -- one written by a journalist with more than 35 years of professional experience -- took down a state's most powerful politician. That point is important for a couple of reasons: (1) It's unclear if today's news ever would have happened without our reports from Aug. 31, and Sept. 1-2, 2015; (2) While al.com has wrongfully received credit for breaking the story at multiple national outlets (yes, you, Rachel Maddow and The Washington Post), the story actually has been an embarrassment for mainstream media (MSM); in fact, it's shown MSM reporters in Alabama too often are ethically compromised, reluctant to report aggressively and accurately on their conservative favorites.

Al.com reporters John Archibald and Chuck Dean spilled serious amounts of ink trashing me, claiming my posts offered only "smoke" and no "proof" -- and my blog had "dubious" credibility. Deep in the bowels of the House Judiciary Committee's Special Counsel Report are e-mails that suggest Dean more or less was working as a public-relations agent for Mason and the Bentley administration. (See p. 38, Exhibit 5-CC, bentleyinvestigation.com.)

Does that mean I'm a smarter, better journalist than the MSMers on the Alabama horizon? I will leave that question for others to answer. But this much is clear: I had better sources than they did, and I didn't have to answer to politically sensitive editors in a Deep Red state who might want the story squelched. My sources on this story were impeccable -- and they knew I would listen when they talked. Their need to remain anonymous has only grown as the Bentley story picked up steam, but I dearly wish I could give their names, so they could take a bow. If there are heroes in this, they are the ones. They have taken personal risks to provide a public service to a state they care about deeply.

My sources weren't the only ones who took risks. Nine days after I broke the Bentley/Mason story, my wife, Carol, and I were subject to an unlawful eviction in Greene County, Missouri (on Sept. 9, 2015). I had an assault rifle pointed at my head, Carol's left arm was shattered, and she likely sustained a concussion from having her head banged against a wall multiple times, and being body slammed butt-first to the ground before a deputy yanked on her limbs so violently that the bone in her left arm was snapped in two above the elbow. We know Carol's arm never will be the same, and we've seen signs of jumbled thinking that suggests her brain might never be the same either. And get this: Bogus criminal charges -- for trespass and assault on a law-enforcement officer -- were filed against her.

Are Bentley and Mason evil enough to be involved in something like that? Well, multiple reports have indicated Bentley unlawfully sought use of state and federal criminal data bases to target me (and attorney/Facebook journalist Donald Watkins) in retaliation for our reporting. Does that sound a bit like the intimidation campaign we now know Bentley conducted against Heather Hannah, a former assistant to First Lady Dianne Bentley? It sure as heck does.

From a journalism standpoint, this much is clear: Legal Schnauzer and Donald Watkins were way ahead of the pack on the Bentley/Mason story, during a seven-month time frame when the MSM did it's best to stamp out the fire. Numerous news outlets have reported that the scandal started in March 2016, when a tape of sexy talk between Bentley and Mason found its way to the press. But that is wrong. The scandal started with my initial reports in late August and early September of 2015 and took fire with two key series from Watkins -- "Forbidden Love" and "Executive Betrayal."

It's possible the sexy tape never appears if the mainstream press succeeds in trying to shush and discredit Watkins and me. It's also possible Bentley serves out his term as governor, without the work of two reporters who are not tied to the MSM and its usual accoutrements -- layers of editors, big-box advertisers, and political suck-ups.

As for the Bentley resignation plea deal, we still are trying to digest what it means. But a report at al.com includes this tweet from Chris England, a member of the House Judiciary Committee:

Due to Governor Bentley's resignation, the work of the impeachment committee is no longer needed. We are adjourned.

What? Who says your work no longer is needed? The Special Counsel's report makes clear that Bentley, his staffers, and associates failed to provide (or heavily redacted) key documents that were requested and subpoenaed. Dozens, likely hundreds, of e-mails, texts, phone records, and financial statements were not provided. And the Special Counsel made clear this, alone, was grounds for impeachment.

Team Bentley engaged in blatant stonewalling and cover-up, but England's words suggest they are going to get away with it. Is evidence of criminal acts included in all that material that was withheld from investigators. The answer likely is yes. But we know this absolutely: That material, produced on public time, with public resources, belongs to the public. It should be revealed to the public, and no deal should be finalized until all that information is turned over. If that information is not made public -- with under-oath interviews from subjects who skipped them the first time around -- Alabamians should pitch a collective fit.

Gov. Bentley's administration has failed, but his cover-up (so far) has succeeded. We will have more on this subject in a post tomorrow.

20 comments:

Anonymous said...

Bye bye, Bobby -- and take your whore "adviser" with you.

Anonymous said...

Prosecutors had him by the testicles. Why were they in such a hurry to reach a deal?

legalschnauzer said...

@8:09 --

Great question. Here's my guess: Republicans are heavily involved at every turn, and they probably don't want the worst stuff to come out.

Anonymous said...

Coverups pay off, especially when you are corrupt Republican in Alabama.

Anonymous said...

Aboard the Eliza Battle the crew was in a joyous mood. Bentley ,wearing a silk satin scarf and carrying a bottle of "Creo 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon and Beka wearing a V-neck long sleeve thigh-high slit red gown, entered to applause. Bentley was showing everyone a photo of Hart sitting at the prosecutors table. He said only the best attorneys can accomplish this. The General ,who was sleeping in the Brig similar to the arrangement Otis has in Mayberry, was confused as to the reason for a celebration. He became even more confused when Beka's boobs began playing peek-a-boo. The General walked over to get a closer look and noticed that Beka's necklace was the key to a safety deposit box. Beka informed everyone that Robert had a key also and he used it as a tie clasp when he resigned. The Stranger in The Shadows noticed the confusion on the General's face and said. " Bill ! Hart's profile has been removed from the Alabama Attorney General's web site."

Anonymous said...

This plea deal is about saving face for the Republican Party. It saves face in two ways: (1) Keeps the worst of the Bentley/Mason behavior under wraps, so GOP can still pull out the "family values" con game; (2) Protects other Republicans who might have been implicated in all the docs that were withheld or redacted.

Anonymous said...

LS: You are the first, and probably the only, journalist to pick up on what a scam this deal is. Horrible for the people of Alabama.

Anonymous said...

Bentley was looking at a possible 80-year sentence, and now he gets a small fine and "community service." Gee, no wonder he was described today as being in "good spirits." I'd be in good spirits, too, if I had pulled off that con game.

Anonymous said...

Cooper Shattuck was one of the people who failed to respond to investigators, and yet he helped negotiate plea deal for Bentley? Good God. This plea deal stinks more than the whole Bentley/Mason scandal.

Anonymous said...

Just saw John Archibald on Rachel Maddow Show, again taking credit for breaking the Luv Guv story.

legalschnauzer said...

Archibald is shameless, and Rachel is clueless -- at least on this story.

Actually, Rachel deserves credit for her coverage, but how hard is it for someone on her staff to determine that John Archibald did not break it? Not only that, he and Chuck Dean did their damnedest to sweep it under the rug.

Anonymous said...

You had all these GOP officials pushing for Bentley to resign. There was a reason for that. The last thing they wanted was a trial or an impeachment proceeding. No telling how much dirt would have been kicked up and how much damage would have been done to the GOP brand.

Anonymous said...

Did Steve Marshall, as Bentley-appointed AG, participate in this plea deal? I thought he was supposed to be recused from the case.

Anonymous said...

What's the difference between Home Wrecky Becky and a regular whore?

The regular whore will accept payment in cash. With Home Wrecky Becky, you must pay through a dark money nonprofit.

Anonymous said...

Mark Fuller . . . Mike Hubbard . . . Roy Moore . . . Robert Bentley . . . Jeff Sessions (maybe).

All Republicans. How long before white folks realize that automatically pulling that "R" lever is not a good idea?

legalschnauzer said...

@11:39 --

That's quite a list of infamy, and it doesn't even include the two biggest GOP crooks of all -- Bob and Rob Riley.

And don't forget Bill Pryor. Little doubt he lied to Congress about his gay-porn past.

Shaheed said...

In hindsight, maybe the reason why he kept saying he would not resign , was because he had not received the deal he wanted. The power controls both sides.

e.a.f. said...

What a difference a weekend can make! Great work!

The deal, most likely given the number of Republicans involved decided for the sake of the party they would simply cover every thing up and hope that no one digs it all up after wards.

The republicans can hope and the rest can dig. Eventually it will come out, this I am sure of, either because some one is bragging or some one is digging.

Now that Bentley is no longer governor I would expect the girl friend will exit stage left. Its not like he can be that interesting to begin with. he isn't that good looking and I'm sure a lot of his money went to the former Ms. Bentley. My guess, the girlfriend will move on and Bentley will die a sorry, lonely, and forgotten man except of course for the scandal.

you did good work there schnauzer!

e.a.f. said...

Democracy is never free. It provides freedom, but some do pay a price for it. I'd say you and others have paid a price to ensure democracy remains in tact in Alabama. Its more than the MSM can say or all those Republicans. I know it doesn't pay the bills but you will always know you did the right thing. You have also proven how important bloggers are to providing accurate and timely news, especially when the MSM won't or can't. What is the difference? You answer to no one except your own conscience. Good on you and Carol.

legalschnauzer said...

Thanks, e.a.f. We've definitely paid a price. Carol's got the scars to prove it.