|Paul Bryant Jr.|
(From Bloomberg Markets)
Bryant was a major financial backer when the Tuscaloosa-based Bentley ran for governor. But the relationship must have soured because a recently released impeachment report quotes Bentley as saying Bryant was among several power brokers who were "using" him. Others included in the quote were Clay Ryan, vice president for governmental affairs and special counsel at the University of Alabama, and Bill O'Connor, a political consultant and former president of the Business Council of Alabama (BCA) who became a Bentley insider, with close ties to Chief of Staff Seth Hammett.
Bentley's comment about Bryant is buried on page 86 of the impeachment report, and to my knowledge, has received no attention in the press. (The full report is embedded at the end of this post.)
The comment came after Bentley had dispatched Alabama Law Enforcement Agency (ALEA) chief Spencer Collier to meet with the governor's scheduler, Linda Adams, to find out what she might know about tape recordings of a steamy conversation between Bentley and his adviser/mistress Rebekah Caldwell Mason. The meeting with Collier left Adams shaken, and Bentley brought it up with her in a subsequent meeting. From the report:
About a week later, on routine business in Governor Bentley’s office, Governor Bentley asked Adams if Collier had come to see her on election night. She replied: “Yes, sir, he did, and I don’t appreciate it.” Governor Bentley said: “I sent him.” Adams asked Governor Bentley: “Do you not trust me?” Governor Bentley replied: “Oh, no, no, no Linda, it’s nothing like that.” Adams says that Governor Bentley told her that his family was turning against him and that Paul Bryant, Clay Ryan, and Bill O’Connor were “using” him. Adams ended the conversation by telling Governor Bentley, “Governor, there are a lot of people using you.”
The governor is telling a key aide that two top-of-the-food-chain officials from the University of Alabama and a former president of the BCA are "using" him. How could those individuals "use" the governor? Were they using him for their personal benefit, for the benefit of the university and certain business interests? Did their "use" of Bentley involve Rebekah Caldwell Mason?
O'Connor reportedly told security chief Wendell Ray Lewis, ""We created Rebekah, but it wasn't to sleep with the Governor."
Who exactly is "we," and why did they create Rebekah Mason? That is one of many questions lingering over the Bentley scandal, even after he is gone from office.