|Gov. Robert Bentley and|
Rebekah Caldwell Mason
That's serious, by itself. But consider these broader questions: How important was the Web press in educating the public about a governor who increasingly seems to be out of control? Specifically, how important was Legal Schnauzer in uncovering a story that shows signs of growing into a monumental scandal? The answer to both questions is "very."
The recent revelations probably never would have been known if we had not broken the story last August of Bentley's affair with aide Rebekah Caldwell Mason. Would Alabama's right-leaning mainstream media (MSM) ever have broke that story? We doubt it. Did we receive heat from various MSM outlets for daring to report the story? We sure as heck did?
It's not just that Legal Schnauzer is able and willing to report on stories the MSM would rather keep under wraps. Any serious journalism outfit is only as good as its sources--and I've been fortunate to have darned good ones. I had good ones on the Rob Riley-Liberty Duke story, the Bill Pryor-gay porn story, and the Luther Strange-Jessica Medeiros Garrison story.
I've been sued twice connected to those stories. I've been kidnapped and unlawfully incarcerated; our home went through a dubious foreclosure; my wife, Carol, and I went through an unlawful eviction that led to a cop breaking her arm. And still, my reporting never has been proven to be false or defamatory at trial--and that's because there was no trial (a jury trial is required in defamation cases, by law) in either case. (See here and here.)
Through all of that, Legal Schnauzer remains. And my sources on the Bentley-Mason story have proven to be just as strong as those on the earlier stories mentioned above.
Our blog is not the only Web-based news operation to do heavy lifting on the Bentley story--and especially the Hubbard story. Bill Britt, of Alabama Political Reporter (APR), has covered both with a doggedness that generally seems to be beyond the MSM's capabilities. Here is how Britt described Bentley's latest difficulties in a post published yesterday:
Insiders privy to meetings between Secretary of Law Enforcement Spencer Collier and Gov. Robert Bentley claim, the Governor asked Collier to tell the State’s Attorney General’s Office that an investigation into Deputy Attorney General Matt Hart was on going, when it was not.
Bentley’s conversation with Collier was due to an investigation into allegations made by attorney and radio host, Baron Coleman, that he concluded that Hart had improperly share Grand Jury information with him. This resulted in an affidavit from Collier and Special Agent Jack Wilson, stating the Coleman allegations against Hart had no merit.
Bentley told al.com that he ordered Collier not to give the affidavit to the Attorney General’s Office. According to those with intimate knowledge of the situation, Bentley asked Collier to tell the Attorney General’s Office that the investigation into Coleman’s allegations against Hart was ongoing.
Where could this lead? Britt explains:
If these individuals’ claims are factual, there may be more to the story than an order from Bentley to his Chief of Law Enforcement Officer.
Those in the meeting when Bentley told Collier he should tell the Attorney General Office the investigation was ongoing were: Special Agent Jack Wilson, ALEA, Chief Attorney Jason Swann and the Governor’s attorney David Byrne.
Law Enforcement officers speaking on background said this falls under several state statues including providing false statements or witness tampering.
Where does Rebekah Caldwell Mason fit into the picture? Britt provides insight, borrowing from reports of al.com's Chuck Dean and John Archibald:
Those inside the administration have even said the recent firings of ALEA top officials and those close to Collier are related to “internal investigation into possible criminal wrongdoing by some employees and staff related to the misappropriation of State dollars and resources,” according to an article by Chuck Dean, an intimate of Bentley’s chief advisor, Rebekah Caldwell Mason.
Columnist John Archibald recently wrote, “Her very word sends shivers through state employees. Because they believe she is the de facto governor, that her word has become Alabama law.”
Close associates of the Governor have expressed grave concern about their relationship, fearing Mason is encouraging Bentley to engage in a public cover-up that includes the firing of: JT Jenkins, ALEA’s second-in-command; Jay Howell; Camilla Gibson; and Collier’s personnel assistant, Merritt Hayes.
Rebekah Mason is encouraging the governor to engage in a cover-up? If that proves to be true, there is no telling how ugly this story could get--and Alabama's already dysfunctional government could get even more inept.
Where is the story headed? That's hard to say. But we know for sure where it started. With Bill Britt's top-notch reporting, the Web press continues to lead the way.