|Gov. Robert Bentley and Rebekah Caldwell Mason|
Bentley repeatedly has taken swipes at my professional and personal integrity, and multiple reports have him targeting me (and perhaps my wife, Carol) for unlawful retaliatory action. To think this clown rode into office while touting family values, with one arm raised in the air, while the other thumped a Bible . . . well, it makes him a despicable individual in my book, right down there with his GOP predecessor, Bob Riley -- and I thought no one could touch Riley when it came to right-wing perversity. Bentley has placed himself in the same ballpark.
All of this comes back to mind in the wake of a lawsuit former Bentley security chief Wendell Ray Lewis filed two weeks ago (Nov. 23) against Bentley, former adviser/mistress Rebekah Caldwell Mason and various unnamed individuals and entities who allegedly helped form a slush fund to pay Mason for her "services" to the governor.
I've been a professional journalist for more than 35 years, and I know how to separate my personal feelings from the job of being a reporter. But members of the Riley machine caused me to be thrown in jail for five months in Shelby County, Alabama, for daring to produce accurate journalism about their nasty activities. Now, Bentley has come along to smear me time and again, perhaps taking a role in acts that caused Carol's arm to be broken and us to be thrown into the streets. When political figures attack you in that way, it's no longer just a news story. They are trying to ruin you, and the most objective reporter is driven to fight back -- in a way that could draw blood from someone, at some point.
Again, why has the Bentley story become personal? Let's count the reasons, taking into account what we've learned from the Lewis lawsuit:
(1) On August 31, 2015, we break the story at Legal Schnauzer of the Bentley-Mason extramarital affair. Nine days later (on Sept. 9), we are unlawfully evicted from our apartment in Springfield, Missouri, and in the process, a deputy breaks Carol's left arm so severely that it requires repair from a trauma surgeon. We later learn that Bentley had targeted Web-based journalists, including yours truly, who led the way in breaking details about the Mason affair.
(2) On September 1, 2015, I become the first journalist to report on possible financial irregularities related to the Bentley/Mason affair. I follow up with a second such post on September 2. (Al.com begins to address similar issues on September 3; but the entire scandal, both the sexual and financial angles, take flight from my reporting.) Did this increase the likelihood that Bentley would target us, causing Carol's arm to be broken and both of us to have assault weapons and pistols pointed in our direction -- during an eviction that, by law, could not happen? We still are searching for answers to that question.
(3) In a December 27, 2015, article by al.com reporter (and Ashley Madison devotee) Chuck Dean, Bentley denies "rumors" of an affair with Mason. From the article:
"The rumors were not true," said Bentley.
The governor then seemed to let out months of pent up frustrations.
"There were people on blogs and people in the press who crossed the line. They truly crossed the line. People on talk radio crossed the line," said Bentley.
Bentley essentially took a No. 2 on my integrity. Did I take exception to that, knowing the quality of the sources who helped me break the affair story? Yes, I did. Did I take a certain amount of pleasure in what came next? Yes, I did.
(4) On March 22, 2016, news breaks that text messages and audio recordings show that Bentley and Mason did, in fact, have an affair. Audio captures Bentley reminiscing about fondling Mason's breasts and exploring her nether regions. Despite that, Bentley claims the affair was just a matter of dirty talk and was not physical. (Note to self: Fondling a woman's breasts and massaging her nether regions does not count as "physical.") The Rachel Maddow Show, The Washington Post, and other national news outlets pick up the story, turning Bentley -- and Alabama -- into a national punchline.
(5) In early August, a new audio recording captures Bentley calling me a "slimy guy" and blaming his divorce on "casino gambling people." How low will this guy go? This is from our post on the subject:
A taped phone conversation released yesterday captures Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley calling your humble blogger a "slimy guy." Bentley also makes a negative reference to attorney Donald Watkins. The tape adds another level of authenticity to reports that Bentley used state and federal resources to target Watkins and me -- the two citizen journalists who broke the story last summer of Bentley's extramarital affair with advisor Rebekah Caldwell Mason.
It becomes more intriguing when you consider this timeline: I broke the story of the Bentley/Mason affair on August 31, 2015, the same date Bentley and State Rep. Allen Farley (R-Bessemer) talked in the evening, with Bentley calling me a "slimy guy." Nine days later, on September 9, my wife, Carol, and I were violently and unlawfully evicted from our apartment in Springfield, Missouri, and Carol was left with a shattered left arm that required trauma surgery. We've already asked this question: Were Bentley and/or Mason involved in arranging the bogus eviction in Missouri? Was that part of their plan to target me? Was having us roughed up and brutalized also part of the plan?
The new audio suggests the answer might be yes.
(6) Finally, we have the Lewis lawsuit, which was filed on November 23. Lewis quotes Bentley admitting to a physical affair and asking his security chief to break up with her for him. So, let's review: Everything I reported in my early postings -- roughly seven months before the mainstream media took notice of the story -- was accurate. But "Luv Guv" Bentley wants the public to believe I am the "slimy guy." This apparently is a seriously disturbed mind at work.
Where does this all go from here. In a Facebook post dated December 4, attorney Donald Watkins says corruption might be coming to a head in Alabama, driven in part by former House Speaker Mike Hubbard and his efforts to reduce his sentence for ethics-law violations by "singing like a bird" to a task force of state and federal investigators. From the post:
Hubbard’s cooperation with authorities has led them to others in state and local government. This includes Jefferson County lawmakers and local officials.
As a result of Hubbard’s substantial cooperation with prosecutors, at least four members of the Alabama House of Representatives are under investigation and could possibly be indicted. One of the four -- Oliver Robinson -- suddenly resigned his House seat at the end of November. Three additional Birmingham-area legislators are targets of the investigation. Two of these lawmakers are Republicans and one is a Democrat.
In October, the Alabama Attorney General’s Corruption Unit empaneled a grand jury in Jefferson County. This is the prosecutorial unit that took down Mike Hubbard.
We have confirmed that the grand jury is investigating allegations of ethics violations and public corruption inside Birmingham City Hall and the Birmingham Water Works Board. The investigation is also reviewing vendor relationships at other city agencies, including the Birmingham Airport and Birmingham Construction Industry Authority.
(Question: Is anyone looking at Riley Inc.? How can any serious investigation of Alabama corruption not include Bob and Rob "Uday" Riley?)
Watkins paints a picture that comes back around to "Dr. Love" Bentley and Rebekah Mason:
On Friday, Cooper Shattuck, Governor Bentley’s former legal adviser, suddenly resigned from his powerful position as General Counsel to the University of Alabama System. Shattuck oversaw Bentley’s “dark money” slush fund -- the Alabama Council for Excellent Government – that was formed in 2015 and used to pay Rebekah Mason for “personal services” rendered to the Governor. The slush fund was established after Mike Echols, Governor Bentley’s long-time personal CPA and heavy hitting moneyman for the Robert Bentley Campaign Committee, split from Bentley. Echols resigned his post over a disagreement with Bentley about his love affair with Rebekah Mason. . . .
Prosecutors have not extended a plea deal to Rebekah Mason. They do not need her cooperation to make their criminal case against these two lovers.
Bentley and Mason have run out of options for avoiding their indictment.