The Republican Party won the Alabama governorship in 2010 and 2014 with the landslide victories of Robert Bentley, and with legislative victories in those same two elections the GOP now holds a supermajority in both houses of the Alabama Legislature. Mike Hubbard and others defeated their Democratic Party rivals by promising to end corruption in Alabama government, including a Hubbard campaign slogan proclaiming the candidate to be a “conservative reformer.”
It didn’t happen.
Instead, these conservatives have turned our state government into a stinking open sewer of corruption, greed, lies, and grotesquely immoral conduct
Alabama’s government has always had corruption and, as I have repeatedly written, the Alabama Constitution of 1901 was specifically designed to create a corruptible legislature that could be easily controlled by landed interests and the Big Mule industries of central Alabama. I have followed Alabama politics my entire adult life, and in Montgomery it was always possible to get an occasional whiff of corruption.
It’s not an occasional whiff anymore. The capital is now drowning in the nauseating stench of dishonest GOP politicians and their appalling conduct.
Mike Hubbard clings to his office as his trial for felony ethics violations grows closer. A few legislators and virtually every local pundit, including this blog, have called for his resignation for the good of the state. He doesn’t care. He punishes legislators who dare oppose him, threatens the sponsors of Bill Britt’s hard-nosed reporting in Alabama Political Reporter, and makes insane legal arguments to the court, including asking that the very ethics law that Hubbard shepherded through the state legislature be held unconstitutional.
And like rot in a fruit basket, Hubbard’s corruption has spread. One of Hubbard’s principal defenses has been to accuse the prosecutor of misconduct. The prosecutor went to Alabama Law Enforcement Secretary Spencer Collier for an affidavit to refute some of Hubbard’s allegations, none of which, by the way, have anything to do with whether Hubbard is guilty of the felony charges against him.
And that’s when things went from bad to worse.
Rebekah Caldwell Mason, who was the governor’s chief policy adviser paid by a non-profit organization that is not required to disclose its donors, did not want Collier to give that affidavit. Governor Bentley, who apparently is fond of awkward sweaty phone calls talking to Mason about her breasts, forbade Collier from giving the affidavit and asked him instead to lie to the prosecutor. Collier refused to obey the Governor’s highly questionable order and Bentley fired him, alleging that an investigation had turned up “irregularities” in ALEA expenses.
Collier, a former close friend of the governor’s who served with him in the Alabama Legislature, wasted no time announcing that he personally witnessed Bentley’s phone recordings and text messages indicating that Bentley was pursuing a sexual dalliance with Mason. This came as no surprise to most, since rumors have circulated about an alleged affair between Bentley and Mason since last fall, when Bentley’s wife of 50 years filed for divorce. Until Collier went public, though, there was no evidence to support the allegations, only rumor and innuendo.
Collier went further. He says he told Bentley he had to break off the affair and Bentley agreed to do so but later said “he couldn’t.” Whatever that means. Collier also says he advised Bentley that if he used state funds to facilitate or cover up the affair it would be a crime.
Now of course Bentley and Mason have denied everything except for what is absolutely proven by the audiotape made public by Alabama Media Group and other news outlets, which proves among other things that Bentley is truly embarrassingly awful at phone sex.
But no one believes them.
What has now become obvious is that our governor is a weak-minded fool who has thrown away his family, his church, and any semblance of self-respect over the charms of a woman young enough to be his daughter, a woman who, along with her clearly complicit husband, has used her sway over the governor to install herself as the “de facto governor,” as Collier put it in his statement to the press.
And this is not just the routine Bill Clinton-type bimbo eruption of the sort to which powerful men throughout history have been susceptible.
This is much worse. This is a woman paid by dark money to be a full-time (and I mean full-time) lobbyist for those who are paying her salary, whoever they may be. This is a woman who used her sexual charms to snare a grim old Puritan in a position of great power and lead him around by his . . . puppet strings. This is a woman who sought to interfere with the prosecution of serious felony charges against the sitting Speaker of the House, a woman who literally picked the driver’s license offices to be shut down last year and who controlled who can have access to the governor of this state and what information the governor received.
And this is a governor who apparently is thinking with a part of his anatomy a little lower than his brain. According to reports in APR, this governor went so far as to order state law enforcement agents to use state resources to dig up dirt on media figures who were accusing Bentley and Mason of having an affair. Apparently the agents refused, but it shows you what has taken hold at the governor’s mansion.
Pure Richard Nixon-style dirty tricks. And the sickening smell of corruption and rot.
Mason’s response to Collier’s allegations was equally sickening, claiming that Collier was biased against women and would never have made such allegations against a man. Susan Britt at APR wrote a blistering editorial taking Mason to task for playing the gender bias card in these circumstances:
Your acquiescence, and even more so, your participation is a repulsive addition to the lexicon of shameless females who exchange their femininity for a lane on the fast track.
Mrs. Mason, you have just added an updated appendix to volumes written about your kind. You used your gender to purchase power, unlike women who have struggled and toiled long hours, sacrificing self and family to be the best in their profession.
Many are calling for Bentley to resign but privately many are terrified of the prospect of Lieutenant Governor Kay Ivey becoming governor because of a Bentley resignation (or impeachment). Ivey is widely considered to be incompetent, so isn’t it grand that the GOP elected a nincompoop to be first in line in the gubernatorial succession?
All of this corruption and incompetence can be addressed by the courts, right? I mean, courts stand as a bulwark against the excesses of the other branches of government. Right?
Well, our judicial system is presided over by a religious crackpot, and who has faith in that maniac to do what is right?
So thanks, Republicans. You took over Montgomery with promises of family values and good government.
And now our state government is awash in the reeking excrement of your corruption and arrogance.