MONTGOMERY, Ala. -- Governor Robert Bentley's office has taken aim at the man -- with allegations of drug abuse, improper spending and excessive absenteeism -- who first claimed publicly Bentley was having an affair with his former top political advisor Rebekah Mason.
Allegations against former ALEA head Spencer Collier were included in a trove of documents the governor's office provided the House Judiciary Committee last week. The committee is investigating whether Bentley should be impeached.
Collier was fired in March, and has accused the governor of having an affair. Bentley said Collier was fired for cause, stemming from an Alabama Law Enforcement Agency investigation of Collier for misuse of funds.
The report Bentley cited in firing Collier is at the center of the documents provided by the governor to the committee.
Collier has denied the claims and has alleged the reason he was fired was Bentley and Mason were unhappy that he agreed to cooperate – by submitting a short affidavit – with the prosecution in the corruption trial of former Alabama House Speaker Mike Hubbard.
The articles of impeachment allegations against Bentley include neglect of duty and corruption in office. The investigation appears to have been spurred by comments Collier made after he was fired, alleging he’d warned the governor not to use state resources to further an affair with Mason.
The ALEA investigation report – actually two slightly different versions – was among about 1,600 pages of documents given to the committee last week.
The ALEA report covers just over 60 pages and includes both documented claims about time sheets and use of ALEA vehicles and wild claims about Collier. The report begins with unusual guidance to the investigator by ALEA attorney Michael Robinson.
"(The investigator) requested to interview Collier, which was standard procedure with accused employees, but Robinson advised her to refrain from contacting Collier, his wife, or (another ALEA employee) until determining if there were potential criminal charges that required referral,” according to the report.
The reports says Collier’s temporary replacement and now-ALEA Chief Stan Stabler initiated the investigation while Collier was on leave in February. Stabler reportedly heard complaints from ALEA accounting personnel about Collier’s spending on clothing and guns and not filling about purchase order forms.
The report’s claims include Collier exceeding his clothing budget and buying guns without using purchase orders.
And then it escalates, the claims about Collier include:
- Extended absenteeism at work
- Rumored drug abuse, related to back injury
- An allegation of sexual harassment
- That he hired his baby-sitter for Department of Homeland Security job
- The same woman, without a law enforcement background, later directed active-shooter training at a Montgomery school using a phone app for guidance
- Third-hand claims of an illegitimate child
It’s an extended takedown of Collier. There are claims he planned to use an ALEA plane or helicopter to travel to Jacksonville State football games and that he used ALEA personnel to drive his kids to school and to after-school activities.
The report also claims that after he was fired in March, Collier called Stabler and threatened to release the explicit recordings of Bentley and Rebekah Mason. He also threatened to release a VHS recording of Stabler making racial comments during a traffic stop, the report claims.
Collier’s attorney Kenny Mendelsohn criticized the report, saying among other things it didn’t follow ALEA protocol and appeared to be edited by someone other than the investigator.
“The reports read more like a tabloid than a law enforcement investigation,” Mendelsohn said in an email to WHNT News 19. “They are filled with rumors, suspicions and conjectures which breaches investigation procedures. This is not the way Special Agent Bickhaus and the other ALEA agents were trained and is not the way any other law enforcement agency would conduct an investigation.
“Contrary to what the Governor stated when he terminated Spencer, he could not have relied on these reports because a substantial amount of the investigation was done after Spencer was fired.”
The report notes that Bickhaus asked to interview Bentley near the end of her investigation to determine if Collier was under any special direction from the governor which would have made his schedule unusual. She was also going to ask Bentley about any information he had about Collier using pain medication, the report says.
ALEA attorney Robinson told her to submit the questions in writing. The governor’s office then determined Bentley would need attorneys present for the interview. But, the interview never took place, according to the report.
Mendelsohn said Robinson’s role in the investigation was disturbing, chiefly that he directed the investigator not to interview Collier.
“Once the witnesses are placed under oath, it will become even more clear that this report was just another attempt to discredit Spencer and cover up the Governor’s true motives,” Mendelsohn said. “In his State of the State Address on February 2, 2016, the Governor praised Spencer’s work.
“Then less than 3 weeks later he punished Spencer and the only thing that had changed was Spencer providing an affidavit in the Mike Hubbard Ethics case which infuriated the Governor and Rebekah Mason.”
Attorney Ross Garber, who is representing the governor’s office in the impeachment investigation, was asked during a conference call this week if the release of the report was aimed at discrediting Collier – in advance of him serving as a possible witness in the impeachment probe.
Garber said the report was included because the Judiciary Committee was adamant that the governor’s office provide it.