Gov. Bentley responds to fired ALEA Secretary's civil suit
MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - Gov. Robert Bentley's office issued a statement Tuesday afternoon following news that ousted Alabama Law Enforcement Agency Secretary Spencer Collier has filed a wrongful termination suit against Bentley, the governor's former aide, Rebekah Mason, her consulting company, RCM Communications, and current ALEA Secretary Stan Stabler.
"Mr. Collier was terminated of his duties at ALEA for cause," the governor's office said in a statement posted to his official website. "Once the facts and circumstances become public, I am confident that the justification for terminating him will be shown. We will aggressively defend this lawsuit."
The civil lawsuit, filed in Montgomery County Circuit Court, outlines the allegations that lifted the veil on a rumored affair between the governor and Mason. Collier's lawsuit alleges Mason's influence over the governor cost him his job. It also alleges invasion of privacy, defamation, intentional interference with business relations and neglect.
The lawsuit points to a specific incident that led to Collier's termination, involving an order given by Bentley not to sign an affidavit for the Attorney General's Office involving the felony ethics case of House Speaker Mike Hubbard.
Collier said Bentley ordered him to lie to the AG's office, explaining the investigation into local radio show host and attorney Baron Coleman's allegations were not over, despite the fact that the investigation had concluded.
"Bentley and Mason were motivated to hurt Collier and his credibility because they knew he would not lie to the Attorney General's Office and they feared he would reveal information showing Bentley and Mason had committed crimes," the lawsuit alleges.
The lawsuit states that information about the affair cost Collier his job, income, benefits and irreparable damage to his reputation.
The first count of the lawsuit cites a violation of Alabama law. In this case, it reports the governor discriminated against Collier, a public employee, for submitting an affidavit at the request of the AG's office in the ethics case against Speaker Hubbard.
"Bentley and Mason chastised, berated and bullied Collier for not following Bentley's unlawful order to lie to and not cooperate with the Attorney General's Office," the lawsuit states.
The lawsuit also alleges Bentley and Mason invaded Collier's privacy by putting him in a false light by stating Collier refused to follow Bentley's order, implying insubordination.
Another count makes the same allegation against the new ALEA Secretary, Stan Stabler. Stabler's prompt investigation reportedly revealed Collier had misappropriated funds at ALEA, calling the actions "malicious".
"Collier's reputation was damaged as he was made out to be a thief," the lawsuit says. "The statements were made and published with malice and with knowledge and intent to hurt Collier and to try to justify Bentley's termination of Collier."
The lawsuit charges Mason and Stabler with intentionally interfering with Collier's business relations with the State by falsifying information and charges to encourage Bentley to terminate Collier.
"Even if Stabler concocted some misuse of funds by Collier, they certainly do not rise to the level of misuse of state funds by Bentley and Mason," the lawsuit contends.
Collier also charges unlisted defendants, likely from ALEA, of negligent, wanton, reckless and/or intentional misconduct, stating they should have known Collier did not misuse state funds as the Public Examiners report found no disclosures.
The lawsuit calls for compensatory and punitive damages, plus interests and costs.
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