|Patti Jackson Austin|
(Update at 11:40 a.m. -- Our Facebook problems seem to have been resolved. A number of my wife's FB friends contacted Facebook to let them know the "unsafe content" message was in error. That might have done the trick. A big thank you to Facebook friends of Carol Tovich Shuler.)
Robert Bentley might be gone as Alabama's governor, but the stench from his corrupt administration remains. One mini-scandal that still is aflame involves an unnamed woman who accompanied Bentley on a state airplane to attend the Trump Inauguration back in January. Well, we have her name.
She is Patti Jackson Austin, a real-estate agent in Baldwin County. One Web site lists her with Keller Williams, specializing in the Daphne and Fairhope markets. Austin's LinkedIn page lists her with RE/MAX By the Bay in Fairhope. Our sources say she also works extensively in the Orange Beach and Point Clear markets.
Austin has five children, according to her bio at Keller Williams. This is part of her greeting to potential customers:
I'd like to welcome you in advance to the Alabama Gulf Coast! A little bit about me! I began my real estate career in Ocean Springs, MS in 2005 and worked with all types of buyers and sellers along the Gulf Coast and in Hattiesburg, MS. I grew up vacationing in Orange Beach, AL and had the pleasure of bringing all 5 of my children to vacation here as well! What an amazing experience for them. I have relocated to the Eastern Shore in Baldwin County, AL permanently and started my real estate career back in full swing with the Jason Will Real Estate Team.
The area is vibrant and beautiful from historic Mobile Bay to the sugar, white sands of Orange Beach. Baldwin County has so much to offer at all stages of life that it is world renowned and a destination that is highly coveted and constantly receiving praise and tourists!
Initial reports had an unnamed female guest accompanying Bentley to the Trump Inauguration, along with Rebekah Caldwell Mason (Bentley's adviser and mistress) and her husband, Jon Mason. It doesn't take much imagination to consider the potentially kinky elements of this arrangement -- especially when you consider that Austin and Rebekah Mason look quite a bit alike.
But the big issue has been this: Passengers on a state aircraft, by law, must be listed on the public manifest. So far, that hasn't been done, and Bentley's office has refused to provide the passenger list and hotel information for the trip to Washington, D.C. Inquiring minds want to know if there is some reason for keeping Patti Austin's name under wraps.
A January 27 report from al.com describes the legal issues at play:
State law requires the governor's office to provide flight logs records "for public inspection" with entries to include the dates of departure and return, the destination and purpose of the trip and a manifest of all passengers.
The manifests must be posted quarterly, "on the first working day of the second quarter following the quarter that is the subject of the report," according to Alabama law.
That means reports from January 2017 and the Trump inauguration could be held until June. That's what happened last year during scrutiny of Gov. Bentley's use of state aircraft in the months leading up to his admission he'd made inappropriate comments to then-adviser Rebekah Caldwell Mason. The records for those months were not released until the end of the second quarter - June - showing Mason accompanying the governor and his staff on three trips from January to March.
This seems like a relatively simple law to follow, so why is Bentley playing games with it? That is not clear. Rebekah and Jon Mason have said they will pay for their own expenses from the trip. Who is picking up the tab for Patti Austin's expenses? Has it been Alabama taxpayers so far? If so, will that change?
|Rebekah Caldwell Mason|
Earlier this year, the Governor's Office declined to release a complete passenger list for those who traveled to Washington, D.C. with Bentley to attend President Donald Trump's inauguration. The manifest covering the Jan. 20 inauguration trip -- which included an unnamed guest of the governor's and Gov. Bentley's alleged mistress Rebekah Caldwell Mason and her husband Jon -- won't be posted until June. . . .
Use of the state plane by the governor -- even on personal matters -- isn't against the law. Alabama's Constitution stipulates that all property belonging to the state, "unless otherwise provided by law," is under control of the governor.
Use of the state plane doesn't come cheap, however.
A Cessna Citation CJ4, the type of plane leased by the state in 2015, can cost as much as $1,900 an hour to operate.
We sought comment from Patti Austin for this story, but she has not responded to our queries.