|Gov. Robert Bentley and|
Rebekah Caldwell Mason
Spencer Collier, whom Bentley fired yesterday, said he has heard an audiotape of a conversation between Bentley and Mason that left no doubt about the nature of the relationship. On the tape, Bentley makes comments about Mason's "breasts and behind," Collier says.
Before we examine the "rest of the story," allow us to line up our trumpet players for a clarion call. Who broke the story of the Bentley-Mason affair? We did. Who took significant heat for reporting that was based on extremely knowledgeable anonymous sources? We did. Who has been sued twice for "defamation" by Republican operatives--Rob Riley/Liberty Duke and Jessica Medeiros Garrison--and absorbed childish taunts from various Alabama news outlets? We have. Have either the Riley/Duke or Garrison claims ever been proven at trial (a jury trial is required, by law, in defamation cases). Nope, there never has been a trial in either case. Since they never have proven their claims in any adversarial proceeding--much less an actual trial--that means, by law, my reporting is true.
In the Garrison case, I was hit with a $3.5 million default judgment that is not remotely supported by law; in fact, that judgment, by definition, is void because I never received notice of the default hearing, and an Alabama lawyer who examined the file said the record shows no one even attempted to give me notice.
In the Riley case, I was hit with roughly $30,000 in attorney fees--never mind that state law prohibits an award of attorney fees against a non-lawyer party who is representing himself, as I was.
A number of news outlets have made light of the money I allegedly owe, without ever mentioning that neither order has any basis in law or fact. Does that chap my fanny? Yes, it does.
But let's look at the scoreboard now: Legal Schnauzer's reporting on the Bentley-Mason affair, a story we broke last August, is true. Our reporting on Rob Riley/Liberty Duke and Jessica Garrison, as a matter of law, is true.
That sound you hear are trumpets blaring, not only for Legal Schnauzer but for the Web-based press in general--without which all of these stories, plus news of U.S. Judge Bill Pryor's gay-porn nudie photos--never would have reached public view. (And by the way, the Pryor story is accurate too, so I guess that makes the score 4-0.)
Now that we are done patting ourselves on the back, let's take a closer look at Spencer Collier's revelations. This is from a report at al.com:
Spencer Collier, head of the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency until he was fired today, said this afternoon he has seen and investigated text messages and audio recordings "of a sexual nature" between Gov. Robert Bentley and his chief advisor, Rebekah Caldwell Mason.Here is where things really heat up:
It is the first on-the-record confirmation of a long-rumored affair from someone claiming personal knowledge of what took place, though people close to the governor argue it is the last gasp of an angry man.
But Collier lays out times and dates.
Collier, who was placed on medical leave by the governor last month, said he saw and heard evidence of the relationship in 2014 and approached the governor – who he considered a friend and father figure. He said the governor confirmed the relationship, but vowed to end it quickly.
"It's a horrible, ugly episode and I am ashamed to have been around it," Collier said. "But I told him I would never lie for him."
Collier said the first evidence of an affair arose Aug. 2, 2014, when Stan Stabler – who took his place as the head of ALEA – saw a text message from Mason on Bentley's cell phone. Collier said Stabler saw the message after the governor dropped his phone at a Business Council of Alabama conference at Point Clear.
He said Stabler notified his then-boss, former Bentley security officer Ray Lewis, of the "sexual nature" of the text. . . .
Three days later, at 3 p.m. on Aug. 5, 2014, Lewis brought a laptop to Collier and played an audiotape of conversations between the governor and Mason, Collier said. The tape, purportedly created by a Bentley family member hoping for an "intervention," left no doubt about the relationship, he said.
"'If we're gonna do what we did yesterday we're going to have to lock that door,'" Collier says Mason said.
The governor responded, Collier maintains, with improper comments about "her breasts and behind."
Gee, imagine if Bentley weren't such a "man of God" with "conservative, Christian values." Without that, he probably would have turned the Governor's Mansion into something that looks like a scene from Caligula.