|Robert Bentley: "Slimy guy," in what should be|
Alabama's Image of the Year.
(From Mickey Welsh, Montgomery Advertiser)
It was a story where a one-man blog beat Alabama's corporate, mainstream media (MSM) at every turn. In fact, MSM reporters joined with Bentley in trying to trash my reputation. Multiple reports even had Bentley unlawfully using state and federal law-enforcement resources in an effort to target -- and find damaging information about -- me. That operation apparently did not work so well. But when you consider my wife, Carol, and I were the victims of an unlawful eviction in Greene County, Missouri, just nine days after I broke the Bentley story, one wonders if Alabama fingerprints were on that filthy operation.
Given that Missouri deputies brutalized Carol and shattered her left arm during the eviction -- then concocted bogus criminal charges against her, which she's still fighting -- a reasonable person might wonder just how low Alabama's creepy governor and his sassy siren might go.
The Bentley-Mason scandal reached a crescendo yesterday when the Alabama Ethics Commission heard testimony and engaged in deliberations for more than nine hours before finding "probable cause" that Bentley violated the state's ethics and campaign finance laws.
According to a report at the Montgomery Advertiser, the commission referred the charges to Montgomery County District Attorney Daryl Bailey. If indicted and convicted, Bentley could face up to 20 years in prison for each violation and a fine of up to $20,000 on each charge. With four charges on the table, mostly related to misuse of public resources and campaign funds, the governor could be looking at a maximum of 80 years behind bars. And that doesn't count other legal issues he faces, as reported by the Montgomery Advertiser:
The decision adds to Bentley's legal ordeal over allegations about his personal and professional relationship with former staffer Rebekah Caldwell Mason, charges that could lead to his removal from office. The House Judiciary Committee could begin impeachment hearings against Bentley next week, and the committee's special counsel should file an investigative report on the governor by Friday. The Alabama attorney general's office is also investigating Bentley, though it's not clear if that probe relates to the Mason charges or another matter.Has anyone investigated possible efforts by Bentley and Mason (or their surrogates) to bully and intimidate Carol and me? I don't know, but we have not been interviewed. It's possible, however, that yesterday's nine-hour hearing touched on a relatively small portion of criminality that might be tied to Bentley and his paramour.
Do I feel vindicated by yesterday's events? The answer is, "Hell, yes." In the roughly 18 months since I broke the story, I've watched major news outlets -- The Rachel Maddow Show, The Washington Post -- credit al.com with breaking the story (cough . . . hack!). I've seen lawyer and Facebook reporter Donald Watkins twice take credit for breaking the story, when he knows that isn't true. I corrected him on it once, and he seemed to acknowledge that Legal Schnauzer was first on the story, but then he repeated his canard just a few days ago.
Heck, I wasn't even in Alabama when I broke the story. Carol and I were living in Springfield, Missouri, trying to keep a roof over our heads. That came on the heels of my unlawful arrest and incarceration in Shelby County, Alabama, and the loss of our home of 25 years in the Birmingham area to a wrongful foreclosure. We have pending federal litigation on both of those issues, plus an upcoming civil-rights and police-brutality case over the actions of Missouri cops, which might have been driven by Bentley/Mason or other conservative political thugs in Alabama.
How does a reporter break one of the biggest stories in modern Alabama history while living in the Midwest? Well, it all goes back to sources, and no one can touch the quality of sources I've had on this story. I wish I could name them, to provide the public thank you they deserve. But they know who they are, and they know that these kinds of stories can generate major blow back -- making it critical that they remain anonymous.
You can't get better sources in Alabama than the ones we've had on the Bentley story, so I've known we were on target from the outset. But has our blog been showered with "atta boys" from the MSM and public officials, who now are on the train to oust Bentley from office? Not exactly. In fact, we've been attacked from multiple angles. Some examples:
(1) John Archibald gets "smoked"
In an article published Aug. 31, 2015, the venerable John Archibald wrote the following at al.com:
Several media outlets--bloggers and radio talkers--this morning cited "sources" as they reported that Gov. Robert Bentley has without question had an affair with a female staff member, a torrid love cuddle that caused the governor's wife of a half century, Dianne Bentley, to file for divorce and ask for everything the guy ever made.
All they offered was "sources." Not proof or fact or anything more than smoke.
Turns out Bentley did, without question, have an affair, and he now faces possible prison time for issues related to it. There was way more than smoke, John, but you didn't want to see the fire.
(2) Chuck Dean and his "unsubstantial rumor"
In an article published Sept. 4, 2015, al.com's Chuck Dean wrote:
Despite no claim of infidelity in the divorce papers, the rumor traveled across platforms such as talk radio, Facebook, Twitter and in some blogs of dubious credibility purporting the unsubstantial rumor as fact.
The "blogs of dubious credibility" turned out to be not so dubious, after all. And the "rumor" proved to be both substantial and substantiated.
(3) Chuck Dean proves to be "dubious" again
In an article published Dec. 27, 2015, al.com's Chuck Dean came up with this:
In her filing Dianne Bentley never alleged infidelity on the part of her husband. But once the filing became public on August 28, online blogs -- some discredited in courts of law and others with dubious histories - were almost instantly filled with unsubstantiated rumors of an extramarital affair between Bentley and a senior advisor. . . .
If Bentley, most Alabamians and even Montgomery insiders were shocked by the news, a handful of bloggers didn't seem to be surprised. Within hours of the painful news, blogs rolled out posts featuring far-fetched stories with highly implausible details about the alleged affair.
What they did not roll out was any proof.
"Implausible" and lack of "proof." You were wrong then, Chuckster, and your journalism career is pretty much toast now. The public does have proof that you are a lazy-ass reporter, with no useful sources and no credibility -- and the story was blowing up under your nose the whole time.
(4) The "Luv Guv" lies his ass off
In the Dec. 27 article, Dean quotes Gov. Bentley as follows:
"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 was lying, and Chuck Dean bought every lie. Who really crossed the line here, Governor?
(5) Bentley takes the "slimy" road
In August 2016, a tape surfaced of a conversation between Bentley and State Rep. Allen Farley (R-Bessemer). In it, Bentley can be heard referring to me as a "slimy guy."
Let's allow that thought to simmer for a moment. During the ethics commission's marathon executive session yesterday, the major news story involved efforts by Montgomery and state law-enforcement officers to block reporters from an exit where witnesses appeared to be leaving the building. The officers, in a show of absurd cluelessness, tried removing journalists from a public sidewalk. At one point, three vehicles (which appeared to be black, state SUVs) were parked in an apparent effort to block reporters from even seeing witnesses, much less asking them questions.
Finally, Mickey Welsh, of the Montgomery Advertiser, captured probably the Image of the Year in Alabama. From a perfect angle above the fray, Welsh caught Bentley scurrying into an SUV, looking very much like a cockroach searching for cover after the lights have been turned on.
That is a great piece of photojournalism by Mickey Welsh, and I can only imagine the amount of thought and effort that went into it.
And it raises this question, as the Bentley administration rests perilously on the edge of implosion: Who's the "slimy guy" now, Governor?