Alabama Governor and Boob-Grabber-In-Chief Robert Bentley did not have a great Thanksgiving. (Yr editor did, thanks for asking). At 4:09 p.m. on Wednesday before the holiday, Wendall Ray Lewis, former head of the governor’s protection detail, filed a 48-page civil lawsuit against Bentley, his former advisor and phone-sex partner Rebekah Caldwell Mason, the laughably-named Alabama Council for Excellent Government (a dark money entity that paid Mason to be Bentley’s top advisor from God only knows what source), and RCM Communications, a corporation formed by Mason. (If you click on the link to the complaint, start reading on page 8. Everything before that is legal mumbo-jumbo that lawyers have to stick in legal complaints to follow all the rules).
Lewis claims that he was forced into early retirement by Bentley and Mason, and that the defendants also smeared his name by falsely claiming that Lewis’s overtime pay was somehow inappropriate or unauthorized. Lewis’s lawyer is John Saxon, a leading Birmingham civil rights lawyer and the former chairman of the Alabama Democratic Party (disclosure: John is a friend of mine). In telling the detailed story of how Bentley turned on Lewis, a man who was once one of the governor’s closest confidantes, the complaint gives more details than the public has yet seen about the sordid relationship Bentley carried on with Mason, a married woman young enough to be his daughter.
Revelation after revelation are painstakingly revealed in the well-written complaint. Among the highlights:
- Lewis claims that Bentley admitted to him that he was having a physical and sexual affair with Mason.
- According to the complaint, Bentley bought Viagra online in his wife Dianne’s name and had it shipped to the Governor’s Mansion.
- The lawsuit says: “As the Governor once told Plaintiff, ‘If they don’t stop treating [Mason] like some sort of … I’ll fire ‘em all. In fact, I’ll fire anybody who continues to mistreat Rebekah.'”
- Paul Bentley, the governor’s son, told Lewis he suspected his father was having an affair in May 2014, according to Lewis’s lawsuit.
- Lewis says his office was so situated that he could observe everyone coming into and going out of Bentley’s office. “There were times when Plaintiff would observe Rebekah Mason coming out of the Governor’s office, with her hair all messed up, and straightening up her skirt as she emerged from the Governor’s office, after having been in there for hours.” (If you want to take a break at this point and go retch, we understand).
- In May 2014, according to Lewis, he and others counseled Bentley to break up with Mason, particularly since there were clear legal implications to Bentley having Mason on state airplanes at taxpayer expense. “The Governor replied, ‘Ray, I know. I need you to go upstairs and break-up with Rebekah for me.’ Lewis replied, ‘I will go up and talk to her.’” The affair continued, according to the lawsuit.
- Lewis says he was forced out of his position because he knew too much about the Bentley-Mason affair.
For Lewis, however, the damage was done. He had seen too much. He had heard too much. He knew too much. The Governor had confided in him too much. He had tried too hard to do what the Governor had asked him several years earlier to do: to tell him when he was doing something wrong. Regarding Rebekah, the Governor didn’t want to hear it. As for Rebekah, it was clear: Ray Lewis needed to go.
- The lawsuit says Dianne Bentley discovered his husband’s unfaithfulness because he gave her an IPad that he didn’t know was synced to the IPhone that he used to send nasty sex messages to Mason. Dianne, in other words, watched their sexting as it progressed. Yuck.
- The gate logs at the Governor’s Mansion kept track of Mason’s visits to the mansion, so they started meeting instead at the Blount House, which keeps no visitor logs, according to a statement that Stan Stabler allegedly made to Lewis. Stabler is the former bodyguard that Bentley elevated to Secretary of the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency after Bentley canned former ALEA secretary Spencer Collier, who also has filed a lawsuit against Bentley, Mason, and others.
- The governor would fly himself and Mason around in private planes, because unlike state-owned planes private planes don’t keep a passenger manifest, according to Lewis.
- The governor moved money around to hide the salaries of certain trusted state officials, taking money from federal funds provided by the Department of Homeland Security, the lawsuit says.
The complaint seeks compensatory and punitive damages in an unspecified amount for defamation, invasion of privacy, wrongful termination (alleging several legal theories we won’t bore you with), negligence, and wantonness.
Bentley issued a statement concerning the lawsuit which does not address the substance of the claims, but merely says everything is false and made up and we deny everything. The statement, which you can read in full here, says:
Ray Lewis has presented a baseless, malicious, slanderous, salacious and poorly constructed civil complaint against myself and others in a thinly veiled attempt to collect hundreds of thousands of dollars from the State of Alabama taxpayers, myself and my family.
The outrageous claims are based on worn-out internet rumors, fake news and street gossip. These bogus claims are an attempt to smear my Administration, to distract from the important matters facing our state, and to attempt to assign wrongdoing where it does not exist.
I have wholeheartedly rejected this attempt and will not allow the people of this state nor my family to be exploited.
Because I have rejected his claim, Mr. Lewis has now unfortunately chosen to publicly file his false scheme disguised as a Civil Suit, which is filled with blatant lies, fictitious accounts, salacious and slanderous accusations, all in an effort to hurt my family and our state.
Not to nit-pick, Governor, but written defamation is libel, not slander, and statements made in a lawsuit are absolutely privileged from being the basis for a defamation claim. But at this point we are sure you are consulting lawyers, who can set you straight on how dangerous this lawsuit really is, including that many of the detailed facts alleged in the suit, if proven true, would support your criminal prosecution for using state resources to further and conceal a private extramarital affair.
This soap opera isn’t over by a long shot. Stay tuned.