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Spencer Collier Makes Clear in Deposition That the Idea of Using Government Resources Against Donald Watkins and Me Originated with "Luv Guv" Robert Bentley

Posted on the 27 June 2019 by Rogershuler @RogerShuler

Spencer Collier Makes Clear Deposition That Idea Using Government Resources Against Donald Watkins Originated with

Spencer Collier

Former Alabama Governor Robert Bentley stated in a deposition made public last July that it was the idea of former Alabama Law Enforcement Agency (ALEA) chief Spencer Collier to launch a criminal investigation of me, in retaliation for my reporting on Bentley's extramarital affair with aide Rebekah Caldwell Mason. Collier, in a deposition we published last week (and it's embedded at the end of this post), tells a very different story.
Who is telling the truth? Given Bentley's history of lying repeatedly about the Mason affair and attacking the press in a way that would make Donald Trump blush, our money is on Collier. In a deposition from his wrongful-termination lawsuit against Bentley, Mason, and associates, Collier says it was Bentley's idea to use state and federal resources to seek dirt on me (and Birmingham attorney-Facebook blogger Donald Watkins) for leading the way on a scandal that would end with Bentley's ouster from the governorship after he pleaded guilty to two criminal charges and agreed to never again seek public office.
Collier even explains how Bentley came to believe he could get away with using public resources for his personal vendettas. From the Collier deposition, with Bentley attorney John Neiman Jr. asking the questions: (Montgomery lawyer Kenneth Mendelsohn represents Collier.)
Q: Let's back up a little bit. You mentioned that ALEA had conducted an investigation into allegations of racial bigotry concerning a certain person, perhaps in the Wiregrass; do I have that correct?
A: It was -- it pertained to members of the Dothan Police Department, including at that time a current ALEA employee who was a former sheriff of Houston County who was also a former Dothan police officer. It centered around a homicide that occurred in the area at least a decade or so ago, prior to this. Accusations were that race played a role in not thoroughly doing an investigation. There were additional accusations made.
Our agents, and I don't recall who it was -- because it got in the public, our agents were able to quickly discredit and disprove what the blogger was saying. It was part of -- the summary or the synopsis of it was part of a routine briefing that I gave the governor; I think it was in writing. The governor reviewed it at a staff meeting. According to Jon Barganier, the governor was pleased with the quality investigation and made a comment to Jon why can't we do something like this about the Shelby County blogger? And I am referring to that because I don't recall his name. And according to Jon, [Bentley] instructed Jon to make contact with me and ask, and Jon did that. I explained to Mr. Barganier that I needed to speak to the governor directly.
Q: Do you recall the name of the former Dothan police officer who was the subject of the investigation you referred to?
A: It was multiple Dothan police officers. Andy Hughes was the -- was the employee, who at this time worked for us; he was a former sheriff of Houston County and also a former Dothan police officer. At this time, he was an assistant director in Homeland Security, oversaw a tactical team.

At this point in the proceedings, Watkins and I became front and center:
Q: Do you recall if the Shelby County blogger you referred to is named Roger Shuler?

A: That sounds -- that sounds right. I'm not sure, though, John.

Q: In both instances in which you contend the governor approached you about conducting these investigations --

A: These were not investigations.

Q: Well, tell me why it is not an investigation.

A: Well, they -- I am not aware they committed any crimes.

Q: Okay. Well, when the governor approached you about both Mr. Watkins and Shelby County, you told him that the -- taking action in the way that he suggested would not be proper. Was that the end of the conversation?

A: Yeah, explained to him that not taking action, but utilizing LETS, NCIC, really any restricted database, has to have a criminal justice reason to utilize it. So I explained we couldn't use it unless we had a law enforcement purpose.

Q: So you did not proceed with either task that the government -- that the governor had requested of you?
A: I did not. And one of the conversations, Agent Scott Lee was present when the governor made the request.

Collier indicates he asked Scott Lee to sit in on the conversation with Bentley, indicating the sensitive nature of the issues being discussed. We are left with a bunch of questions, but three stand out:
* Collier states he did not proceed with the task of trying to slime Watkins and me, but did Bentley find someone else who agreed to do his dirty work?
* Was Collier's refusal to go along with the dirt-gathering mission against bloggers part of the reason Bentley fired him?
* Did Bentley lie under oath about how the idea of attacking Watkins and me originated, and did that have something to do with the lawsuit settlement?

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