Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Lawsuit from "Luv Guv" Bentley's ex security chief might shine unwelcome light on financial shenanigans involving U of Alabama and Alabama Power

Wendell Ray Lewis
Officials from the University of Alabama and Alabama Power might be feeling a tad uncomfortable after former security chief Wendell Ray Lewis filed a lawsuit last week against Governor Robert Bentley, mistress/former adviser Rebekah Caldwell Mason, the ACEGOV nonprofit, Bentley for Governor Inc., and other unnamed persons and entities.

Coverage of the lawsuit, so far, has focused mainly on its content about the Bentley/Mason extramarital affair. But Lewis' complaint goes well beyond that, focusing on ACEGOV -- described in some quarters as a "slush fund" to pay Mason for her "services" -- and those who funded it. The complaint also seeks information about individuals who helped cost Lewis possible jobs at UA and Alabama Power after he had been forced out in the Bentley administration, apparently at Mason's insistence.

For example, the lawsuit names fictitious defendants "D," "E," and "F, who are described as:

"those persons, firms, corporations, universities, trade associations, think-tanks, non-profits, or other entities who or which contributed money directly or indirectly to Mason, whether by cash, check, PayPal, or other means, or provided other benefits or things of value to Defendant Mason, through RCM, or any of Defendant Mason’s businesses, any of Jon Mason’s businesses, ACEGOV, and/or Bentley for Governor, Inc."

The lawsuit clearly seeks information about "corporations," "universities," and other entities that paid Rebekah Mason and her husband, Jon Mason. It also dips into the world of journalism, seeking information about those who:

"participated in the act of feeding to certain Alabama journalists misleading information about the overtime worked, earned and/or paid to Plaintiff [Lewis] by the State of Alabama."

Speaking of the University of Alabama, the suit makes multiple references to Cooper Shattuck, UA's chief legal counsel and a former Bentley staff member. The lawsuit shines light on what led Shattuck to form ACEGOV:

On one occasion, Dr. Henry Mabry, then the Executive Secretary of the Alabama Education Association, said he could get Mason paid to the tune of $150,000. Paul Bentley told Lewis that Cooper Shattuck, the Governor’s former Legal Advisor, set up the 501(c)(4) for Mason. On information and belief, that 501(c)(4) was Defendant ACEGOV. Seth Hammett told Lewis he had a conversation with the Governor in which Hammett informed the Governor that because of the Governor’s relationship with Mrs. Mason, Mason could not be on the state payroll, therefore the need for the 501(c)(4). Bentley confirmed that conversation to Lewis,saying of Hammett, “I want his ass gone."

The lawsuit describes Lewis' relationship with Rebekah Mason as "strained at best." From the complaint:

She knew he wasn’t going to do anything to facilitate her relationship with the Governor; she wanted him gone. Plaintiff was beginning to reach an important conclusion: once you got in Rebekah’s cross hairs, that was it. She ordered the hit, and the Governor carried it out. At one point, the Governor barked to Lewis, “If anybody says another thing about Rebekah, I will fire their ass.

Rebekah Mason and Nick Saban
It seems someone close to Bentley still had Lewis in his/her cross hairs, even after he had left his state job. From the complaint:

A few months after Lewis retired earlier than he had ever intended to, he was contacted about a senior security position with The University of Alabama. He met with Cooper Shattuck, formerly Governor Bentley’s Legal Advisor and now General Counsel to the University System. Shattuck spoke to Lewis about helping with University security, perhaps having a role with Coach Saban, whom Shattuck described as “the University’s greatest asset.” Eventually, Shattuck turned the conversation to the Governor. He asked Lewis his thoughts. Lewis told Shattuck, honestly and soberly, that he thought eventually the Governor would be held accountable, and that he should be. Shattuck replied, “Well, I plan to be a friend to him when he falls.” Lewis never heard back from Shattuck about the University security job. When Lewis eventually himself got back in touch with Shattuck, he told Lewis to reach out to Ronnie Robertson. Lewis followed up with Robertson, who had nothing to do with anything Lewis and Shattuck had talked about. Needless to say, no job offer was forthcoming.

Lewis went through a similar experience with Alabama Power:

Lewis also heard about this same time from Clay Ryan, a Birmingham attorney, who asked Lewis if he would be interested in the job of head of security for Alabama Power. Lewis responded in the affirmative. By text message on July 24, 2015, Ryan informed Lewis that the “pay will be ‘what it takes’ [one can assume, to get Lewis there]” and “You would be crosswhite’s [sic] guy” meaning Mark Crosswhite, the President and CEO of Alabama Power. Lewis replied, that same day, “Thanks Clay. This is a great opportunity!” But it never materialized. Ryan asked Lewis to send him a resume, which he did. But then Ryan asked Lewis how he intended to respond if and when the questions started flowing about the Governor. Another honest answer from Lewis. Another no call back.

(Note: The UA System hired Ryan as vice president of governmental affairs in September 2015; before that, he was an attorney at Maynard Cooper and Gale in Birmingham. Ryan helped serve as PR defender for UAB President Ray Watts during the university's controversy over removal of the football program.)

Lewis winds up alleging two counts of intentional interference with business or contractual relations -- one for unlawfully pushing him out of his state job and one for costing him opportunities with at least two other employers once he left.

Gee, this story sounds familiar. Cheating someone out of his long-time position as a state employee, and then making sure that his career is ruined so that he can't find jobs with other employers -- and he can't find justice in a court of law? Where have we heard that before?

Have "Luv Guv" and "Home Wrecky Becky" been taking notes from Alabama's previous GOP regime, led by Bob and Rob "Uday" Riley? Sure sounds like it.


Anonymous said...

Who is the bigger scumbag, Cooper Shattuck or Clay Ryan? Close race.

Anonymous said...

Rebekah Mason encouraged Bentley to force out Mr. Lewis. Would be nice to see that decision come back to bite Bentley on the ass.

Anonymous said...

Love the reference to "Uday" Riley. It sure fits.

Anonymous said...

Good reporting, Schnauzer. Much more here than the grabby/feely stuff. Abuse of state resources will cook Bentley's goose.

Anonymous said...

I don't think Bentley's goose is cooked. When Trump takes office, the guy from northern district of Georgia will be booted, and any federal investigation of Bentley likely will end. Then, it's home free for the "Luv Guv." I think Bentley's disgusting, but I think he and Becky get off completely under Trump.

Anonymous said...

I think 1:14pm may be completely wrong about Bentley and his crew getting a get out of jail card from President Trump.

I think Trump might enjoy having some show trials for some politicians. Good for ratings and for keeping the subordinates focused. Something totally for the ratings and credibility. Campaign slogan: "Drain the Swamp!". The show trials will probably need to appear to be bipartisan, so Bentley or Chris Christie could be first Republicans on deck to go with whichever Democrats they go after.

Christie because of old scores (Daddy Kushner prosecuted and sent to federal prison by Christie) and because it's easy to explain he shut the bridge down and lied about knowing what his subordinates were doing. Christie's show trial will have some of the largest media markets following for high ratings. Besides, the Port Authority alone controls Billions in real estate and commuter infrastructure. Definitely lots of assets and graft worth redistributing and privatizing after the show trial exposes all the corruption.

Bentley on the other hand is in a small media market backwater...but Trump knows that NOTHING GET RATINGS LIKE SEX SCANDAL!!! CORRUPT SEX SCANDAL AND SEX SCANDAL RECORDINGS! SEX ON A PLANE? That SELLS TOO!!!

The old coot Bentley and the whole rotten bunch will be busted like soggy pinatas if someone puts them in the Trump batters box. The advantage with prosecuting the Bentley mess is that the collateral damage would be rather limited. In other words, cheap thrills and high ratings.

Imagine President Trump tweeting about viagra and boob rubbing, and the gov hotlinking to his wife's phone so she was cc'd on all the sexytime texts and calls...and then linking to the newly discovered sexytime videos! (DOJ plus all the alphabet agencies...this means NOTHING has been REALLY deleted.)

Sum it up: if they were smart, all these swamp dwellers might all be sweating.

Anonymous said...

Interesting point, @3:46. Maybe the big question is this: Who will be US Atty for Middle District of Alabama under Trump? Sessions probably will make that call, and he probably will determine if anything is done re: Bentley. It almost certainly will be a poor choice. Either way, the guy from ND of Georgia had better get some indictments going in next few weeks because his ass will be out the door real soon in 2017.

Anonymous said...

>>Sessions probably will make that call, and he probably will determine if anything is done re: Bentley.<<

Disagree. Donald Trump will be the captain of the ship and the decider. Anyone appointed or serving will either do his bidding or be gone.

legalschnauzer said...

Just curious, @4:38, are you a Trump supporter?

Anonymous said...

Funny comment, @3:46. It definitely made me chuckle. But do you think a Trump admin. will even consider the rule of law in such situations, or will it all be about Orange Julius' whims and "ratings" considerations. Trump already is starting to make me miss George W. Bush, and I didn't think that was possible.

S C said...

I like @ 3:46 pm me crazy. Will be interesting to see.

Anonymous said...

4:38 here and I'm not a Trump supporter but I am a realist.

I was convinced Trump was the likely Republican nominee once he announced he was running, and thought it quite likely he would win the presidency. I began telling people this early in 2015.

Have you ever heard of Bob Altemeyer's book "The Authoritarians" published in 2006? He posted it online to read for free a few years ago. If you want to understand what has been going on for the last 40 years, that's a good place to start.

Look at the description and free download of the book at

@8:18 There is a little humor thrown in, but it's not a joke, that is the prediction. Not only who will be indicted, but some of the actual tweets (nearly word for word) which will come from the White House. You heard it here first.

If Mitt Romney had read and understood this Altemeyer book there wouldn't be pictures of him one eating frog legs and scallops with Trump and looking like he thinks he might be the dessert. Mitt apparently doesn't even understand how to order a power lunch. His choice was either the prime sirloin or the lambchops and he picked the lambchops? Who gives a fuck which he wanted to eat. There is only one choice, unless you are the kind of guy who straps your dog to the top of your car for long trips. I wonder if Mitt remembered to ask what the quiche of the day was? (On the other hand, maybe either Preibus or Trump told Romney he had to order the lamb chops. Which would also tell you something. But I do think Mitt is probably a lambchop kind of guy.)

e.a.f. said...

it is doubtful Trump will have a "show trial" or any other trial for Bentley. If he did, his actions with women would also be "on trial". the money aspect of it, perhaps, but again I doubt it. If he puts Bentley on trial for the "money" aspect of the mess, he himself may be called on his "issues" at some later date. Would suggest this is going to be a case of let sleeping dogs lie.

Show trials to feed the hungry masses because he promised to "drain the swamp"? doubt it. like so much Trump said, he was elected and that is all old news. Just look at the boys he is planning to appoint to cabinet. talk about draining the swamp and he "hires" a former Goldman Sachs guy.

As to going after Christy, doubt it. Hus son in law may not like Christy, if he goes after Christy, there will be too much blow back within the party, i.e. all those senators and house of representative people will get very nervous. Now that can result in one of two things, either they decide to get rid of Trump or they fear him. When it comes down to it, Congress can make life more difficult for a president than a president can for Congress. there are any number of people who would love to see the back end of Trump who are currently in Congress, he won't go to war with anyone he doesn't have to.

He has his "big victory" with Carrier and he has some cheering. OF course no one knows what that is going to cost the government, i.e. tax breaks, purchasing more equipment from the parent company, etc. The parent company of carrier made a $4 billion profit last year. Keeping those jobs in the USA as a "favour' to trump is no big thing. He needs to appear tough to his base and he just did. No need for show trial, Bently and Mason gets a pass as does anything else which has a sexual over tone to it. Remember Trump's behaviour in the past. Does any one think Trump gives a rats ass who Bentley is screwing around with? That is just so middle class.