For some good news, Watkins reports on his Facebook page this morning that Bentley's "House of Fraud is Collapsing," that the governor and some of his top aides are toast.
On the bad-news side, my little family unit is suffering, physically and emotionally, forced to live like refugees in a hostile environment. If justice ever comes, I'm not sure we will survive to see it.
The illegal use of government resources to retaliate against journalists might go beyond Watkins and me--to include, in my case, a spouse and a furry loved one. My wife, Carol, and I, since being forced to move to our current (and hopefully temporary) location in Springfield, Missouri, have seen evidence that suggests Alabama and Missouri forces have engaged in a coordinated effort to steal many of our personal belongings, force us to the edge of homelessness, terrorize us with handguns and at least one assault weapon, and force us to live in a week-by-week flea-bag motel whose charms include bed-bug infestations and meth dealers around the corner.
In fact, one member of our family is suffering from physical symptoms that we think might be caused by an allergic reaction to bed bugs and the nasty residue they leave behind. But we don't have the resources to seek treatment. At the moment, we are not sure we can pay next week's rent, which means the roof over our heads might soon disappear.
In short, some of the same bad actors present in the Mike Hubbard trial--Bob Riley, Rob Riley, Luther Strange, Bill Baxley, perhaps Hubbard himself, and likely others--have tried to ruin us. And they might be pretty close to achieving that objective.
This is the real-world price a journalist can pay for daring to report accurately about the conservative-based corruption that has taken over our state at least since 1995, when Karl Rove helped Republican Perry Hooper become chief justice of the Alabama Supreme Court--in an uber close election that featured the kind of skulduggery we would see again in the 2000 Gore-Bush presidential race and the 2002 Siegelman-Riley gubernatorial race in Alabama.
Do you notice a trend here? Vote totals that once favor the Democrat, suddenly favor the Republican; ballots are either lost, not counted, or sealed; recounts that favor the Republican are held, but those that might favor the Democrat are denied or conducted in slipshod fashion. End result: The Rove/Republican candidate always wins.
Bentley and Mason also went for a wild ride on the "Sleaze Train," and they now face grand-jury scrutiny. This is from al.com's John Archibald:
The investigation into Gov. Robert Bentley, and the fallout of his relationship with former adviser Rebekah Caldwell Mason, is apparently moving to the grand jury.
A letter sent by a federal prosecutor to lawyers of people who have been questioned by the FBI in the Bentley affair, explains that George Beck, U.S. Attorney in Alabama's Middle District, recused himself from the investigation. He has been replaced on the case by a U.S. Attorney from Georgia.
Jonathan Ross, assistant U.S. Attorney in the Middle District, wrote the letter under the subject "Grand Jury Investigation." The note is the first evidence that Bentley's relationship with Mason or his attempts to hide that relationship is being examined by a grand jury.
It has already been made clear that investigators from the FBI, the IRS, the U.S. Postal Service and state agencies have begun asking questions of former Bentley staffers, executive security officers and others who were at one time close to the governor.
Meanwhile, Watkins indicates federal investigators are moving forward in a hurry, and the Bentley ship is about to sink:
Federal investigators are closing in on Alabama Governor Robert Bentley and his widespread criminal racketeering enterprise. This enterprise operates straight out of the governor’s office. . . .
The end of Bentley’s criminal enterprise is rapidly approaching. His “House of Fraud” is collapsing. Bentley will be indicted and tried on federal racketeering and public corruption charges.
Earlier this month, Bentley lost a protective law enforcement shield that was provided to him by Montgomery U.S. Attorney George Beck, Jr., a staunch Bentley ally. Beck’s entire office has been removed from the ongoing criminal investigation by the Department of Justice (“DOJ”) in Washington, acting in conjunction with the U.S. Attorney in Atlanta. Beck’s coziness with the Bentley Administration disappointed the public, infuriated his staff, and was eventually too much for the DOJ to bear.
What else points to rough sledding ahead for the governor? Watkins spells it out, making reference to the governor's retaliatory efforts against the two journalists who broke the Bentley/Mason sex scandal. Al.com, perhaps sniffing a Pulitizer Prize in the future, has taken a serious interest in the story since audiotapes surfaced of Bentley talking of caressing Mason's breasts and happily exploring her nether regions.
But the story likely never would have gotten that far without the reporting Watkins and I did last August and September. In fact, al.com spent much of its time last fall attacking the reporter, me, who first reported on the sex scandal and mentioned Mason by name. The mainstream press mostly tried to ignore Watkins, even though he's proven to have spot-on inside information.
Writes Watkins in today's Facebook post:
In March 2016, the Alabama Council for Excellent Government (“ACEGov”), Bentley’s 501(c)(4) slush fund for channeling “dark money” to Rebekah Mason, essentially shut down. Federal investigators have subpoenaed the financial records of this “girlfriend” fund. In 2015, Mason received payments from ACEGov without the knowledge or approval of its board of directors.
In March 2016, Bentley fired Spencer Collier, the former head of the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency, for refusing the governor’s direct order to lie to state prosecutors in House Speaker Mike Hubbard’s criminal case and for refusing to use federal criminal databases to harass and retaliate against online journalists Roger Alan Shuler and me. Collier is cooperating with federal investigators.
Chief of staff Seth Hammett, executive assistant Wanda Kelly, chief of executive security Wendell Ray Lewis, communications director Jennifer Ardis, and a host of other staffers have also departed the governor’s office in what can only be described as an orderly exodus. Remaining staffers are quietly looking for other jobs. They all think the governor is erratic, delusional, and paranoid. Bentley, who is a known habitual liar, has already started blaming some of the departing staff members for his misdeeds.
If it's proven that Bentley participated in the trauma our family unit has experienced in Missouri--not to mention my bogus incarceration and the likely theft of our house in Alabama--I hope the feds nail him on the tallest cross they can find. And if there is an especially warm corner of Hell, I hope Robert Bentley, Rebekah Mason, and their fellow pieces of pond scum roast there for eternity.
I only hope there is another warm corner reserved for Bob Riley, Rob Riley, Bill Baxley, Jessica Medeiros Garrison, Bill Swatek and many others who have tried to run our lives--all because we vowed not to sit back and quietly take gross courtroom corruption.