Forget Ivey’s age and health, what should concern you is her staff

Kay Ivey
[Photo Credit: Kay Ivey Flickr]

Yesterday, Bill Britt over at Alabama Political Reporter dropped what was intended to be a bombshell story about Gov. Kay Ivey‘s health and details about the cover up of her hospitalization in Colorado for what former ALEA Chief Spencer Collier described as “mini-strokes.”

The stroke accusation was quickly disputed by her doctor in a letter that raised as many questions as it gave us answers.

Here are my thoughts on the whole mess:
1) Voters don’t care.
Ivey is beloved in the state. Don’t believe me? Look at her favorability numbers. Understand that coming from previous administrations where some could say most of the men in recent years had behavior that was not just unethical, but sometimes criminal, Ivey is doing great. That said, I’m not sure what the continued discussion about her age or health is hoping to accomplish. Democrats were never going to vote for her. Her base is likely to be more sympathetic to her given the constant attacks, and then there’s that whole issue of math. So long as we’re in Alabama and so long as she doesn’t have a Roy Moore-style scandal in the next several weeks, she’s going to win on Nov. 6. Being sick wouldn’t qualify for the type of scandal it would take to make a difference.

2) The real story in this story is the demotion/transfer of Trooper Drew Brooks and any effort by her staff to engage in a cover-up, no matter what they were trying to cover up.

You’re really, really missing the point if you read that story and your take away is “she’s not healthy enough to be governor.” Ivey’s real problem, and this is something I’ve been talking about since she took over in the governor’s office, is the staff. They screw up the basics of their job. I know, I know I’m suppose to say they’re there for the people of Alabama, but let’s be honest they’re there to make Ivey look good. It’s that simple. They have pretty easy job. Yes, the governor makes tough decisions, but at the end of the day what voters look at is the image that is portrayed by the media, her appearances, her surrogates, what her administration is doing. Her staff just needs to wrap-up her accomplishments in a pretty little package with a bow and get out of the way so that they don’t give reason to the press, or others, to write or report bad things. If you’re the staff and you’re the story for your screw-ups — you’re failing.

I’ve never in my life seen an office, including Robert Bentley‘s so bad at cover-up, lies and outright laziness. Some on her staff are completely out of control and that ladies and gentleman should be the story we’re talking about.

I’m all for keeping Ivey as our governor (sorry I’m a tried and true small government/fiscally conservative republican Walt and his big government agenda isn’t my cup of tea) but can we vote her staff out?

3) How do we not start an investigation into the potential misuse and abuse of the security detail?
If reports are to be believed, the executive security detail in both the Bentley and Ivey administrations have become the whipping-boy of power-hungry individuals — Bentley himself, and in this case it looks like Ivey’s Chief of Staff  Steve Pelham (despite his previous statements to the contrary). This is sad and should be handled not through media reports, rumors and gossip but through a professional unbiased investigation.
The executive security detail has a very simple mission: protect the governor and lieutenant governor. It’s not challenging to understand even if staff would want the agents to be political lackeys they’re not. Their sworn law enforcement officers not babysitters, secret keepers, errand boys/girls. They assess threats on the ground when their principles are moving around the state or even within their offices. They also assess threats we don’t see or know about those that are called, emailed or snail mailed in.
Just out of college, I briefly worked in the Florida governor’s office handling the governors travel schedule (a job not for the faint of heart or those who ever wish to have a life of their own). This job allowed me to see the interworking of all the offices and roles within the executive office of the governor and how they interacted with the law enforcement tasked with the governor and lt. governors safety. Those Florida Department of Law Enforcement officers were tremendous. I can’t imagine the ALEA officers are anything less. They travel frequently and leave their homes and families, work crazy hours. It’s a tough job. It’s tough enough to do without power-hungry staffers asking you to lie and transfer you for refusing to do so.
While others may be focused on the potential implications of health scares, which won’t get us anywhere, I’m asking for folks to focus on the abuse of power and the potentially unfair transfer of law enforcement officers as retaliation for things not associated with their jobs. And if the reason for relocation was true, he tried to hack her email, that’s more of a fireable offense. We need a full, unbiased investigation into all of the actions surrounding this incident.
As for the governor’s office. Stay tuned in the coming days I’ll be posting more about my efforts to hold Ivey’s staff accountable for the transparency she promised but that they aren’t delivering on.