One day after being fired, Alabama’s former top law enforcement official says Governor Robert Bentley has been having an affair with his a top advisor. Spencer Collier made the remarks at a press conference Wednesday afternoon in Montgomery.
Spencer is the first person to publicly confirm the rumored affair, which was fueled last year by Bentley’s divorce from his wife of 50 years, Diane Bentley.
Collier says he first became aware of the alleged affair in August 2014. He says Bentley’s personal security officer, Stan Stabler, who replaced Collier as head of the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency, accidentally discovered a text that was sexual in nature when the governor left his phone in a vehicle. Collier says this took place at a Business Council of Alabama conference in Point Clear. Collier says Stabler brought the incident to the attention of his supervisor, Ray Lewis, who then informed Collier.
Collier says a few days later Lewis played for him part of an audio recording of Bentley and advisor Rebekah Mason having a sexual conversation. Collier says Lewis received the tape from a Bentley family member. Collier says he made the governor aware of the tape that evening.
“I told Governor Bentley I loved him, like a father,” says Collier. He says he asked for no explanation from the governor but explained it would be a crime to use state resources or campaign funds to facilitate the apparent relationship.
“Governor Bentley assured me that he had done neither,” says Collier.
Collier says despite an assurance that he would end the relationship with Mason, Bentley did not.
Ties to Hubbard Trial
Collier says in February he informed the governor ALEA was conducting an investigation into improper conduct involving the Alabama attorney general’s office. That office has been preparing for a trial of House Speaker Mike Hubbard on charges of using his public offices for personal gain. Hubbard’s attorneys have accused the attorney general’s office of prosecutorial misconduct. Collier says law enforcement conducted its investigation and concluded no wrongdoing occurred.
Collier says he informed Bentley that the attorney general’s office requested an affidavit about the investigation. He says Bentley told him to not file the document and instead say the investigation was ongoing.
Collier says that wasn’t true, and an affidavit was submitted despite Bentley’s objections.
Collier says Bentley and Mason then ridiculed him and his staff at a subsequent meeting.
“To say she was furious would be an understatement,” says Collier.
Collier says Bentley and Mason then worked to fire four law enforcement officers and transfer four others who he believes did nothing wrong. Bentley placed Collier on medical leave for back surgery in February.
Collier says he has received complaints about Mason’s influence from many state officials and members of the Bentley family.
“Rebekah Mason has wielded a level of influence over both the governor and state government that I have never seen in all my years of public service,” Collier says, adding she is the “de facto governor.”
Wrongdoing at ALEA
A statement from Governor Robert Bentley’s office announcing Collier’s termination Tuesday says an ongoing investigation revealed possible misuse of state funds at ALEA. Collier denies the allegation.
“Let me be clear,” says Collier. “This is 100 percent untrue.”
Collier says he will cooperate with the attorney general’s office into investigations of wrongdoing by ALEA or the governor.
Collier says he spoke out before he knew he was fired because ALEA closed investigations, under pressure from the governor’s office, that he ordered to continue before he was placed on medical leave.
Bentley Denies Affair
A spokeswoman for the governor denied Collier’s allegation of an affair when Alabama Media Group columnist John Archibald first broke the story Tuesday. Bentley is expected to hold a press conference later this afternoon.
Collier says he has no specific knowledge of Bentley misusing state property to enable his relationship with Mason. He also apologized to the governor’s former wife, Diane Bentley, who he calls the “victim in this.” He says the governor owes the people of Alabama an explanation.
“Governor Robert Bentley is not the same man I knew and served in the legislature with and consider one of the best friends that I ever had,” says Collier. “And for that I am saddened.”