Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley‘s former law enforcement secretary sued his former boss Tuesday, claiming he was wrongly fired.
Spencer Collier, who the day after his firing accused Bentley of having an affair with an adviser, says in the lawsuit filed in Montgomery that Bentley and the adviser, Rebekah Mason, made misleading statements to the media to try to discredit him.
“Their lies have hurt me financially, have severely damaged my reputation and they have made it their mission to permanently end my career in law enforcement,” Collier said in a statement.
Jennifer Ardis, a spokeswoman for Bentley, said the governor’s office had not seen the lawsuit and did not have an immediate comment. Bentley has previously said Collier was fired after an internal review found a misuse of funds at the state law enforcement agency. A text message to Mason and a call to Mason’s attorney were not immediately returned.
The lawsuit is the latest twist in a sordid political tale that has engulfed the 73-year-old governor in controversy. It has been punctuated by back-and-forth salvos between Bentley and Collier, who were once close friends when they served together in the Alabama House.
Collier’s lawsuit accuses the governor of firing him because the two disagreed over a request to file an affidavit saying investigators found no evidence of misconduct by prosecutors in the ethics case against House Speaker Mike Hubbard.
Collier said he wanted to file the affidavit, but the governor didn’t want him to. He says Bentley asked him to lie to prosecutors and that he was unwilling to do that because it would be illegal.
The governor is expected to be a prosecution witness at Hubbard’s ethics trial next month. Among the charges Hubbard faces is using his public office to benefit his clients by lobbying the governor’s office.
“The governor did not tell anyone including Spencer Collier not to comply with the law – just the opposite. The governor wanted everyone treated correctly and in accordance with the proper law enforcement procedures,” the governor’s spokeswoman has said in a previous statement.
A day after being fired, Collier accused Bentley of having an affair with Mason. The governor later admitted making inappropriate remarks to Mason, who has since resigned, but said he did not have a “physical affair.” However, racy recordings have surfaced of Bentley making sexually charged remarks, referencing kissing and touching, to someone with the same first name.
The governor’s new law enforcement secretary, Stan Stabler, said last week that it was Collier who sent a state helicopter in 2014 to fly Bentley’s forgotten wallet from his hometown in Tuscaloosa to his beach house at Fort Morgan. Collier said he never approved the flight. Bentley said he did ask state security to retrieve his wallet, but he did not know they were going to use a helicopter to do it.
Republished with permission of the Associated Press.