|Gov. Robert Bentley and Rebekah Caldwell Mason|
Rebekah Caldwell Mason has hired Bobby Segall, of the firm Copeland Franco. Segall perhaps is best known for representing defendants in the Don Siegelman and Alabama bingo prosecutions. Meanwhile Birmingham attorney Donald Watkins reports on his Facebook page that Bentley has hired Montgomery criminal-defense lawyer Joe Espy.
What is the most likely source of criminal exposure for Mason and Bentley? Our sources say it is the Alabama Council for Excellent Government, also known as ACEGOV, a nonprofit organization with ties to three of the most powerful entities in the state--Alabama Power, the University of Alabama System, and the Poarch Band of Creek Indians, who have tried to arrange a monopoly on state gaming in exchange for assistance with the state budget crisis.
Where does ACEGOV get its money? The council is not terribly forthcoming with that information, but in a general sense, the funds reportedly come from Bentley's leftover campaign resources. More specifically, our sources say, the money comes mostly from Alabama Power and the Poarch Creeks--and a significant amount of it has been funneled to Governor Bentley's mistress, Rebekah Caldwell Mason.
Cooper Shattuck, a former legal adviser for Bentley, formed ACEGOV in February before moving on to become general counsel for the University of Alabama System. What is Shattuck's role at UA? Here is how the university's Web site describes it:
The General Counsel, R. Cooper Shattuck, staffs, organizes, and manages the Office of Counsel. The General Counsel also serves on the Chancellor’s Senior Staff.
Sounds like a pretty big job. Shattuck oversees a staff of 21 lawyers who serve the three UA campuses--in Tuscaloosa, Birmingham, and Huntsville. Joining him as board members for ACEGOV are R.B. Walker, assistant to the executive vice president at Alabama Power, and Marquita Davis, a former state finance director under Bentley and current executive director of the Jefferson County Committee for Economic Opportunity.
Shattuck helps complete a powerful trifecta--University of Alabama, Alabama Power, Poarch Creeks--that, our sources say, helped funnel money to Rebekah Caldwell Mason. How much did ACEGOV pay Mason, and what services did she perform? Was she paid mainly to stay quiet about her affair with Governor Bentley?
Could the answers to those questions help lead to criminal charges against Mason, Bentley, and perhaps others? We will address those questions in upcoming posts.