Spencer Collier settled his wrongful-termination lawsuit against former Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley for $700,000, and other state employees proceeded with criminal investigations of Birmingham attorney/Facebook blogger Donald Watkins and me after Collier refused to take such unlawful action in retaliation for our reports about Bentley's affair with aide Rebekah Caldwell Mason.
That is from a Watkins post yesterday in the wake of our report about a Collier deposition, where the former head of the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency (ALEA) said Bentley asked multiple subordinates to make unlawful use of state and federal databases to launch baseless criminal investigations against the two online journalists (Watkins and me) who drove the reporting on the Mason scandal, which led to Bentley's ouster from office and guilty pleas to two criminal charges.
Bentley's use of state resources for a personal vendetta is a criminal act, and Watkins cites events from Alabama history that prove it. From Watkins' June 20 post:
Deposition testimony from former Gov. Robert Bentley and former Alabama Law Enforcement Agency Chief Spencer Collier in a recently settled lawsuit between the two men confirmed that Bentley viewed me as a “political enemy" and asked Collier to investigate me for criminal wrongdoing as a means of discrediting me.
The other online journalist who was targeted for destruction is Roger Shuler. Shuler and I published a series of articles in 2015 that exposed Gov. Bentley’s secret love affair with his mistress and lover, Rebekah Caldwell Mason.
The publication of my “Forbidden Love” and “Executive Betrayal” series of investigative articles in September/October 2015 infuriated Bentley.
Once First Lady Dianne Jones Bentley confirmed that Rebekah Mason was her husband’s paramour, she sued Gov. Bentley for a divorce and exited their marriage. Gov. Bentley had already exited the marriage, emotionally and otherwise. He was hopelessly in love with Rebekah Mason, a married mother of three children who served as his senior political advisor. Mason's sexual seduction of Bentley gave her complete control of the governor’s office.
Roger Shuler published two recent articles [see here and here] that exposed Bentley’s sinister and unlawful plan to use federal and state resources to launch criminal investigations against Shuler and me in retaliation for our news reporting on the Bentley-Mason love affair and sex scandal.
Bentley was not worried about the state’s mainstream news media organizations because he regarded them as too weak, too compromised, and too afraid to report on his “sex-for-power” scandal. He was right. These media outlets did not join the fray until seven months later when audiotapes surfaced of phone sex between Bentley and Mason.
As we reported on July 17, 2018, Bentley stated in his deposition "I don't know exactly how much was investigated, though.” Watkins states in yesterday's post that is not true:
Bentley lied in his deposition when he claimed that he did not know what became of the investigations. They, in fact, continued. . . .
Spencer Collier refused to use federal and state resources to launch politically motivated criminal investigations against Roger Shuler and me. Because of this refusal, Collier was fired.
Undeterred, Gov. Bentley’s efforts to use federal and state resources to harass me continued under the leadership of David Byrne, the governor’s legal adviser/consigliere, and Stan Stabler, Bentley’s replacement for Collier.
Collier stated multiple times in his deposition that he told Bentley it was improper to use public criminal databases for personal dirt-gathering purposes, with no genuine basis in fact. Watkins reports that Collier was on target about that -- and Alabama history helps prove it:
Spencer Collier was right about the use of the federal NCIC criminal database and state ACJIS information system for political and personal reasons. It is a crime to use these databases for political and personal reasons.
In 2000, former Jefferson County Sheriff Jimmy Woodward and Birmingham Attorney Albert Jordan were charged, tried, and convicted in federal court for using the NCIC and ACJIS databases for political and personal reasons. Their convictions were upheld on appeal.
As evidenced by his deposition testimony, Gov. Bentley engaged in the same politically motivated and retaliatory conduct in 2015. Yet, Bentley was not prosecuted by federal or state law enforcement authorities for these criminal acts.
Watkins notes the Collier lawsuit settlement, while stating that his own ordeal continues -- apparently driven, at least in part, by Bentley's unlawful efforts to seek revenge:
Spencer Collier sued Bentley for his wrongful termination. The case was settled last week with Collier receiving a reported $700,000 under the settlement agreement. Thereafter, the case will be dismissed.
Collier’s ordeal is ending, but mine continues.
Gov. Bentley resigned his office in disgrace in April 2017. Today, Bentley and Rebekah Mason are still lovers and they work together in Bentley's private medical practice.
The mainstream reporters who were afraid to publish articles on the Bentley-Mason secret love affair during the first seven months of the scandal in 2015-16 eventually won praise for their work from pundits on national TV. One of them won a Pulitzer Prize for regurgitating and repackaging the journalistic work performed by Roger Shuler and me under the most threatening, harmful, and retaliatory conditions.
The rest of the story is history.
(To be continued)