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Spencer Collier says he watched Governor Bentley implode, but he purposely didn’t watch him resign

The unraveling of Governor Robert Bentley's administration began in earnest with one man — Spencer Collier.

The former head of the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency started a firestorm in March 2016 by accusing Bentley of having an affair with a senior advisor, Rebekah Caldwell Mason. Collier called her the "de facto governor."

One year later — after criminal investigations, ethics charges, and impeachment hearings — Collier feels vindicated.

But there's limits.

"I purposely did not watch his speech to resign," Collier tells WHNT News 19's David Kumbroch, "I just chose not to. As bad as he has made our life, and I say our — my family's life — I still try not to take joy in someone's misery."

This story started long before though.

"Well, we met in '01," Collier remembers, "He was running for the House, as I was. We got elected that same year."

Collier says they sat next to each other in the House; they became friends. He says when Bentley decided to run for governor, Collier supported him all along the trail, even providing protection sometimes.

And when Bentley took office, Collier took a job in his cabinet, "We started that administration, and the first thing he made it clear to us as his cabinet was, we're going to go down in history as the cleanest administration that's ever served. And I believed him at that moment. We all did. We all believed in him."

He adds over time — over the course of Bentley's first term — the governor changed, "Today's Robert Bentley, that's not the one I'm talking about. The Robert Bentley I knew from '02 up until the last couple years was a very humble man."

Collier says he didn't see it coming. "We spent a lot of time together when we were both serving. I'm convinced he just totally changed. And I think obviously it was a result of her."

Her — Rebekah Caldwell Mason — the former political advisor, the alleged mistress, the so-called de facto governor.

"It started with small things like her challenging Chief [Ray] Lewis's decisions of who needs to be on the [state] plane. I mean, he's responsible for protecting the governor's life. That's how it started. And over time it just got to where she was making all the decisions."

The night in 2014 when Bentley was re-elected marked a turning point for Collier, "He actually made a statement to me, 'First term, everyone saw the nice governor. This term, they're going to see the other side of me.' Well, I had never seen the other side of Robert Bentley. And he became arrogant, which is totally contrary to his personality, or used to be."

That night, according to Collier and the impeachment report assembled by a special counsel, the governor ordered Collier to drive 143 miles to Greenville to interrogate an assistant about the explicit audio recording that captured the governor and Mason in tawdry conversation.

"You would have never convinced me in 2010 that man would do something like that," Collier says. He adds that he shouldn't have gone. That he should have said no.

He says he was afraid of who else they might send.

Tensions built, coming to a crest over an affidavit Collier provided in the Mike Hubbard corruption case. He says the governor told him to lie rather than provide it. Collier says he took the info to federal authorities.

After the affidavit, Bentley put Collier on medical leave.

"I was operated on on a Saturday," he remembers, "On Monday, they started firing my staff . . . The governor called me back, and you know what he told me? That he wanted me to heal and get better and that he loved me. At that same time they were firing my staff members."

"That's the last conversation I ever had with him," he says.

Collier lost his job. He went public. He watched the governor's administration implode.

But he didn't watch the resignation.

He didn't want to see it.