|Robert Bentley and Rebekah Mason|
Those are perhaps the most laughably insightful moments from a wrongful-termination lawsuit former security director Wendell Ray Lewis filed this week. The suit is filled with sordid and buffoonish moments from the Bentley/Mason soap opera, but it really is not funny. It probably leaves a reasonable reader asking, "This guy talks tough about immigration and 'bloodthirsty Mexicans,' but he doesn't have the courage to break up with his girlfriend? That's the kind of 'fearless leadership' Alabama's had for six years? This guy is like a 10-year-old boy staring in amazement at his morning erection. Good grief!"
Good grief, indeed. But when you consider how much state property and funds apparently were used to facilitate the Bentley/Mason affair . . . well, the laughter starts to die down in a hurry. From Chip Brownlee's report at Alabama Political Reporter (APR):
The lawsuit . . . lays out . . . Lewis’ final year as the Governor’s top body guard and the affair he says he witnessed. In the 50-page brief, Lewis and his attorneys summarize sordid details of Bentley’s alleged relationship with Mason.
Their affair — which the Governor now claims is over — dated back to at least spring 2014, when Lewis said he first learned of the possibility that the Governor could be involved with Mason, according to the lawsuit. Lewis said Paul Bentley, the Governor’s son, told him that they suspected an affair in May 2014.
Lewis — who headed the Governor’s security detail, traveled everywhere with him and had an office in the capitol across the hall from the Governor — said he observed Mason entering the Governor’s office for hours on end in private, alone with the Governor.
“[Lewis] could see anyone coming or going, and could take note of how long someone had been in the Governor’s office,” the lawsuit says. “There were times when [Lewis] would observe Rebekah Mason coming out of the Governor’s office, with her hair all messed up, and straightening up her skirt as she emerged from the Governor’s office, after having been in there for hours.”
Bentley has tried to convince the public that his relationship with Mason went no further than "inappropriate remarks" -- "dirty talk," if you will, as caught on an audio recording that became public in March of this year. Even the press largely has fallen for it, calling it an "alleged affair" or a case of Bentley making "inappropriate statements." The press conveniently forgot that key statements involved Bentley's fond reminisces of fondling Mason's breasts and exploring her nether regions.
That, folks, is a physical affair -- straight from the governor's own mouth -- by any definition I'm aware of. But if that doesn't work for some folks, we now have Lewis' word for it. And we learn that Bentley's former wife of 50 years, Dianne, and at least one of his sons, played a major role in breaking the story wide open. From Lewis' complaint:
Three days later on May 7, 2014, after Lewis first learned of the affair from Bentley’s son, Lewis was summoned to Bentley’s office on Capitol Hill, according to the suit. He went in and found the Governor, accompanied by Mason, crying:
“Lewis asked, ‘Governor, what is going on?’ Bentley replied, ‘Dianne has accused me of having an affair, and she has a recording.’ He added that his wife, Dianne, had a recording, but had given it to his son (Paul). The Governor asked Lewis to go talk to Paul. Lewis inquired, ‘What do you want me to do?’ The Governor replied, ‘Find out if he has a recording.’ He sent Mason out of the office, and she went up to the Lt. Governor’s conference room.
"Bentley then replied, ‘Ray, I am embarrassed for you to hear what’s on that recording. It’s between Rebekah and I. I am ashamed of what came out of my mouth.’ Lewis inquired, ‘Governor, are you telling me that this is true?’ ‘Yes,’ replied the Governor, ‘I am ashamed of what I have done.’"
Following is a section from the lawsuit that indicates Alabama has been led by a dysfunctional doofus:
After finding out about the relationship, Lewis says, he began pleading with the governor to end it because he was afraid Bentley could get into trouble for using state vehicles and planes to facilitate the affair. When Lewis confronted the Governor, Bentley asked Lewis to “break-up with Rebekah” for him, according to the lawsuit.
In Lt. Gov. Kay Ivey’s conference room, Lewis attempted to end the affair for Bentley for over an hour. Lewis thought he was successful ending the affair, with both Bentley and Mason agreeing it should end. Nevertheless, Bentley came in and began “rubbing and massaging Mason’s shoulders, stroking her hair and saying, “Baby, it’s gonna be alright,” the lawsuit says.
But it wasn’t over, the lawsuit alleges. For the next year, until Lewis retired in early 2015, Bentley and Mason continued their affair despite Lewis’s repeated attempts to convince them both to quit seeing each other.
Here is a key section from the Lewis complaint:
Lewis and the Governor were sitting in Lewis' truck, at the airport about to get on a plane. Lewis asked the Governor, "Governor, there's a lot of talk going on. Was it a physical relationship? After initially hemming and hawing, the Governor replied, reluctantly but clearly, "Yeah, it was physical."
To what extent did Bentley abuse the use of state funds and property to facilitate and cover up the affair? Lewis' complaint provides insight:
* Mason would visit the Governor at the Governor’s Mansion while Dianne Bentley was away. But after finding out that Ms. Bentley had knowledge of Mason’s name on visitor logs, Mason and Bentley began meeting at the Blount House, which kept no logs.
* Bentley leased planes for his campaign because private planes didn’t have to keep manifests. On the planes, “Mason would sit across from the Governor and discreetly touch his leg.”
* Bentley would regularly have Lewis pick Mason up in a state car or on the state helicopter. They would even swap Mason for Jennifer Ardis, Bentley’s former director of communications, on the manifests so that Mason would go undetected.
* The Governor met, on at least one occasion, with Mason at a private lake house with no security present.
* Bentley would routinely carry three cell phones, his State phone, his personal phone and a third phone, which Lewis says Bentley used to communicate with Mason. He also had separate email accounts.
* Based on Lewis' complaint, Bentley might be in trouble well beyond his official capacity as governor.
The lawsuit provides evidence that Bentley abused his privileges as a licensed physician:
Bentley, a licensed physician, wrote a drug prescription for Mason. And, on at least one occasion, according to the lawsuit, Bentley ordered Viagra in Ms. Bentley’s name, and had it shipped to the Governor’s Mansion.
Writing a prescription for someone who likely is not your patient? Fraudulently writing a prescription in someone else's name? Are these the kinds of acts that can cause a doctor to lose his license? The answer likely is yes.
Below is the full Lewis lawsuit: