Tuesday, September 11, 2018

"Luv Guv" Bentley hides donors to his "Girlfriend Fund," as reports surface of payoffs to media for favorable coverage during the Rebekah Mason scandal

Robert Bentley and Rebekah Caldwell Mason
Former Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley is being pushed in the Spencer Collier lawsuit for information about donors to an alleged "Girlfriend Fund." Bentley's taxpayer-funded legal team, however, filed a response last week that suggests a continuing effort to stonewall regarding the fund, which reportedly served multiple purposes -- including possible payoffs to members of the media for positive coverage -- according to a report at Alabama Political Reporter (APR).

The notion of payoffs for positive coverage of Bentley and his relationship with senior adviser Rebekah Caldwell Mason might be the flip side to reports that the administration used state resources to conduct retaliatory investigations of Donald Watkins and yours truly -- the two online journalists who reported on the Bentley-Mason story for roughly seven months before the mainstream media (MSM) took serious notice.

John Archibald and Chuck Dean, of al.com, were among the MSM reporters who largely ignored the scandal -- and even attacked me, as the journalist who broke the story -- until audiotapes surfaced,  proving the affair and making it impossible to ignore. Were Archibald, Dean, and their news organization paid to look the other way on the "Luv Guv" Bentley story?

That is one of several interesting questions raised by APR's latest report, from editor Bill Britt. Here is another: Why is Gov. Kay Ivey continuing to use state dollars to fund Bentley's defense?

Officially, the fund in question is called ACEGOV, but insiders have come to know it as the "Girlfriend Fund." Reports Britt:

Known in political circles as the "Girlfriend Fund,” because it paid money to Bentley’s alleged girlfriend, Rebekah Caldwell Mason, ACEGOV is a 501(c)(4) set-up in Feb. 2015, by Bentley’s then-General Counsel Cooper Shattuck to promote Bentley’s political agenda.

Kay Ivey
 Gov. Kay Ivey’s administration continues to pay tens of thousands in legal fees to protect Bentley in his lawsuit with Collier.

A team of lawyers from Maynard Cooper and Gale, led by Harvard educated attorney, John C. Neiman Jr., represent Bentley with the state footing the ever-growing legal bill.

Why is information about ACEGOV's financial backers so sensitive? Britt addresses that question:

Over a year ago, when it became clear that Ivey would replace Bentley as governor, a member of Ivey’s inner-circle approached Collier with a suggested promise of a resolution. However, since taking office, Ivey’s administration has spent hundreds of thousands to defend Bentley. . . .

Why Ivey changed her position on a resolution with Collier is unknown, but those close to the lawsuit believe certain individuals and companies that supported ACEGOV don’t want to suffer the humiliating blowback from their names being exposed by Collier’s lawsuit.

Collier was fired from his position at ALEA after he refused to follow Bentley’s order to lie to prosecutors in the Speaker of the House Mike Hubbard criminal case. . . .

Collier’s firing grew out of actions taken by Hubbard’s attorney Lance Bell, who in January 2016, contacted ALEA to arrange for attorney and radio host Baron Coleman to issue a complaint accusing prosecutor Matt Hart of leaking grand jury information. Bell’s actions are recounted in an affidavit by Hal Taylor, current ALEA Secretary.

Does ACEGOV, in many ways, represent the underbelly of Alabama politics? Britt suggests the answer is yes, and those who helped support the fund apparently know it:

Not only does Collier’s lawsuit raise questions about the state’s choice of representation; it also unearths a long suspected question as to why Gov. Ivey would go to such great lengths to protect Bentley.

Collier is asking the court to compel Bentley to identify donors he solicited to fund ACEGOV or those who contributed to the fund of which he has personal knowledge. It is widely suspected that a who’s who of business owners and corporate entities funded the non-profit to curry favor with Mason, who was Bentley’s close adviser.

Suggested payoffs to news outlets and radio talk show hosts for favorable coverage of the Bentley administration is also believed to have been part of ACEGOV’s secret mission.

According to Bentley’s state-funded legal team, “Collier’s motion makes baseless assertions that are not supported by the evidence.”

Perhaps the bigger question being asked in Montgomery is why is the Ivey administration so doggedly defending Bentley instead of putting the matter to rest?


Anonymous said...

Taxpayers are paying for shyster lawyers from Maynard Cooper to pull this scam? Sickening.

Anonymous said...

Bentley's lawyer sounds like a common thug.

Anonymous said...

Sounds like Bentley's legal team is engaging in classic discovery abuse.

Anonymous said...

Excellent reporting by Bill Britt. Bravo!

Anonymous said...

Will be interesting to see if judge holds Bentley's lawyer's feet to the fire.

Anonymous said...

People who were stupid enough to donate to ACEGOV deserve to be outed.

Anonymous said...

Kay Ivey needs to be voted out of office. She's not physically, intellectually, or integrity-wise capable of being governor.

Anonymous said...

Big reason to vote for Joseph Siegelman for AG. He might prosecute Luv Guv and Home Wrecky Becky. Steve Marshall certainly won't do it.

legalschnauzer said...

@10:29 --

Interesting that you mention Steve Marshall. His former law partner, Jeff McLaughlin, is supporting Siegelman for AG:


legalschnauzer said...

Interesting details about Steve Marshall's former law partner supporting Joseph Siegelman:

One of Siegelman’s stand-out donors is of particular interest because he is Marshall’s former law partner. For over a decade, Jeff McLaughlin and Marshall were law partners; he also was Marshall’s political mentor.

McLaughlin has made only one campaign contribution for the general election cycle, and that is to Siegelman. During the primary, he supported Chris Christie.

McLaughlin, a Democrat, served three terms in the Alabama House of Representatives until his defeat in 2010, when Republicans were swept into power. Dubbed as “the last honest politician in Alabama,” McLaughlin has worked to end the corrupt political system that plagues Alabama. APR called McLaughlin’s office to ask why he was not supporting his friend and former partner, but as of deadline, APR‘s calls were not returned. Several individuals who would only speak on background say party politics is just one of the reasons McLaughlin isn’t backing Marshall.

Anonymous said...

If Walt would jump on this he might could pull off the election, what do you think Roger?

legalschnauzer said...

@12:52 --

I think you are right. In a rational state, Maddox and Siegelman would win their races easily. Their GOP opponents are so obviously flawed. I remember Walt when he played in the early days of UAB football, so I'm a fan. Pulling for him.

mollie dulac said...

we suport joe siegel

Anonymous said...

The Alabama Council for Excellent Government promotes public policies that give Alabamians a more efficient, effective, accountable and excellent government. (So sayeth the ACEGov filing on IRS Form 990 2015 page 5)

How many people are asking if ACEGov was possibly something like a BCA front operation?

Have you ever heard or seen any such speculation Mr Legal Schnauzer?

legalschnauzer said...

@2:43 --

I haven't heard such speculation, but I think the point you raise is definitely a possibility. Would be interested in hearing thoughts from others.

Anonymous said...


What's the elephant in the Cooper Shattuck denial that's not mentioned?

Could it be the BCA?

e.a.f. said...

Why? well in some areas of the world, regardless of party, politicians all circle the wagons to protect their own, professional politicians. they "suspect" they could all be in the same position at some time in the future, so they expect the same protection themselves. its not like politicians don't know each other outside of their jobs, they're friends, and sometimes those friendships run deeper than party affiliation, etc.

of course as the post explains, there may be donors who don't want to be "outed" and that is a big thing. If they are, there maybe blow back from their business partners or share holders, who knows. What I do know is the current governor isn't going to deviate from her current position.

Perhaps the only way things will change is for voters to become more aware of this and figure out when all that money is being spent on legal fees for an ex governor, its not being spent on infrastructure, schools, health care, etc. Why spend it on the former governor when it could be spent on perhaps a new school or improvements to a community center. People frequently don't understand until they realize what THEY are missing out on.

Anonymous said...

The media buy offs would explain why several comments I e-mailed directly to al.com reporters were met with lackluster zeal. I informed them of her previous marriage months before it was reported. And the reporter even told me she knew about it, but didn't think it was relevant. Ha!

Anonymous said...

You probably need some boots because the BS is deep!

"When an Alabama reporter discovered evidence that the governor was having a relationship with a top staffer, state politics started to unravel."