|Gov. Robert Bentley and|
Rebekah Caldwell Mason
Rebekah Caldwell Mason, a married mother of three from Bentley's home base of Tuscaloosa, was the governor's mistress in an affair that sources say raises a number of possible legal issues--including use of the state jet and a state trooper's services for personal reasons that had nothing to do with Bentley's official role.
According to Dianne Bentley's divorce complaint, the couple separated in January 2015 because of a "complete incompatibility of temperament" and a "conflict of personalities which destroys the legitimate aims of matrimony." In fact, sources say, Gov. Bentley's affair with Mason destroyed the matrimonial bonds.
The 72-year-old Bentley, a Republican serving in his second term, repeatedly has touted his Christian faith and conservative "family values" to attract voters. He long has served as a deacon at First Baptist Church of Tuscaloosa. Bentley made national headlines in 2011 when, shortly after his inauguration, he said, ""Anybody here today who has not accepted Jesus Christ as their savior, I'm telling you, you're not my brother and you're not my sister. And I want to be your brother."
Rebekah Caldwell Mason, sources say, quickly became more than just a communications director to Bentley. Their affair became so widely known that it diluted any moral authority the governor might have had. "He's been impotent as governor for at least the last six months," one source told Legal Schnauzer. "People have been going into his office and saying, 'Do what I want or I'm going to play the girlfriend card.' People have been running all over him."
Who is Rebekah Caldwell Mason? She first came to public attention while serving as press secretary for Bentley's 2010 campaign. When Bentley rose from relative obscurity to win the GOP primary and defeat Democrat Ron Sparks in the general election, Mason became the new governor's communications director.
On Twitter, Mason describes herself as follows:
Wife, Mom of 3. Fan of Football. Business Owner. Senior Advisor for a great Gov. Love Family, Jesus and Reece's (sic) Cups. Not necessarily in that order.
Sources describe Mason as "between the ages of 38 and 40," meaning she is more than 30 years Bentley's junior. She is a former television newscaster and the wife of a former TV weatherman. An article at Yellowhammer News, portrays her as a highly influential figure in the governor's camp:
It’s easy to forget, but there was a time when Robert Bentley was a little-known state representative from Tuscaloosa launching a long-shot bid for governor. Very few people believed he had much of a chance against better funded candidates. But Mason was one of the true believers from the very beginning.
After Bentley was elected, Mason came into the administration as Communications Director. Bentley World has been basically devoid of controversy, which can be attributed in part to Mason’s deft handling of the communications shop.
Now that she’s moved outside of the administration, it’s freed her up to take on a greater role in shaping the big-picture direction of the governor’s office and re-election campaign, rather than having to get bogged down in the day-to-day operations.
Staffers and administration officials frequently bring problems or ideas to Mason first to find out how to best present them to the governor. And she’s written or refined pretty much any important speech or comment the governor has given over the last four years.
“Rebekah’s the governor’s voice,” one senior administration staffer told Yellowhammer. “I don’t think you can overstate how influential she is when it comes to the message the public hears from this governor.”
As it turns out, Mason might have been too influential. The Bentley-Mason affair, in the aftermath of Dianne Bentley's divorce complaint, has left the governor's administration teetering. Legal fallout from the affair could have ugly consequences, including Bentley's resignation and a possible criminal investigation. From one source:
I have . . . been told that Bentley's trooper facilitated the affair, and that the state jet was used extensively to facilitate it. And that Bentley and Mason actually used it as a bedroom at times when Mrs. Bentley was still living in the mansion. . . . The use of state resources to facilitate an affair would surely violate state law; guess it would be difficult to prove since I'm sure the woman's name likely did not appear on the jet's flight log.
Actually, Mason's name does appear on multiple flight lists for the first quarter of 2015. She is listed as a senior political advisor. Here are the flights:
|Rebekah Caldwell Mason|
(2) Date of departure: March 24 Destination: Dothan Purpose: Legislative Update to Dothan Chamber; meeting with Dothan Mayor Passengers: Governor Robert Bentley; Executive Protection Officer; Local Government Affairs Director Zach Lee; Legislative Director Ross Gunnells; Photographer Jamie Martin; Communications Director Jennifer Ardis; Senior Political Advisor Rebekah Mason Date of return: March 24
(3) Date of departure: March 26 Destination: Huntsville, Birmingham Purpose: Interview with WAFF; Legislative Update to Huntsville Chamber; Greet President of the United States Passengers: Governor Robert Bentley; Executive Protection Officer; Local Government Director Zach Lee; Photographer Jamie Martin; Communications Director Jennifer Ardis; Senior Political Advisor Rebekah Mason Date of return: March 26
(4) Date of departure: March 27 Destination: Mobile, Gulf Shores Purpose: Legislative Update to Mobile Chamber; Interviews with WALA Fox 10 and WKRG; meeting with Mobile officials; transport Governor to Gulf Shores Passengers: Governor Robert Bentley; Executive Protection Officer; Local Government Director Zach Lee; Press Secretary Yasamie August; Digital Media Coordinator Daniel Sparkman; Legislative Senate Liaison Derek Trotter; Senior Political Advisor Rebekah Mason Date of return: March 27
Neither Mason nor Communications Director Jennifer Ardis responded to our requests for comments. We will have more on the Bentley-Mason affair, and its possible legal fallout, in upcoming posts.