Society

Alabama Gov. Uses State Helicopter To Get His Wallet

| by Kathryn Schroeder
Gov. Robert BentleyGov. Robert Bentley

Republican Gov. Robert Bentley of Alabama reportedly used more than one thousand taxpayers dollars to have his wallet delivered to him via state helicopter.

In 2014, Bentley and his wife had an argument at their home in Tuscaloosa regarding his alleged affair with Rebekah Caldwell Mason, his top political advisor, Yellow Hammer News reports. Following the argument, he drove to their beach house in Gulf Shores, Alabama, where he left his wallet.

Bentley then ordered his dignitary protection detail to deliver his wallet to him. Confidential sources claim he told the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency to have a helicopter do the job.

"In December 2014, I received notification from Governor Bentley that he traveled to his home in Fort Morgan and inadvertently left his wallet in Tuscaloosa," ALEA secretary Spencer Stabler said on April 13, according to AL.

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"I contacted my chain of command and ultimately received approval from former Secretary Spencer Collier to utilize ALEA's aviation unit to pick-up and deliver the wallet to the Governor."

The cost of transporting Bentley's wallet via state helicopter was reportedly $1,380, an ALEA spokeswoman confirmed, according to WVTM.

Bentley said he needed his wallet for “security reasons” and that while the incident “looks bad,” it was not illegal.

"I requested they deliver my wallet, I didn't know how they were going to do it," Bentley said, according to AL. "I did not request that a helicopter was used."

"You have to have your wallet for security reasons," he continued. "I'm the governor. And I had to have money. I had to buy something to eat. You have to have identification."

Bentley also said that he did not initially recall the incident.

"'Governor you don't remember it because you didn't do it,’” Bentley said Stabler told him.

Bentley contends that Stabler is the one who requested the helicopter be used, which matches what Stabler said in a statement.

But Stabler was not Secretary of ALEA at the time, rather, he was Bentley’s Protective Services Chief. Former ALEA secretary Spencer Collier denies granting permission to Stabler to use the helicopter for Bentley’s wallet retrieval.

"I was never informed about the wallet and did not approve the use of ALEA Aviation to retrieve it," Collier said during an April 13 press conference. "The Chief of Protective Services was given the authority by Governor Bentley to utilize aviation on behalf of the Governor without going up the chain of command to me and the Chief did so routinely."

Collier was removed from his position as secretary of ALEA and replaced by Stabler in March after he gave an affidavit to prosecutors in the public corruption trial of Alabama House Speaker Mike Hubbard.

The day he was fired, Collier publicly announced that Bentley was having an affair with Mason.

Stabler remains on Bentley’s side and does not believe it was wrong to use the helicopter, and subsequently taxpayers money, to deliver the wallet.

"The Dignitary Protection Unit of ALEA does what is necessary to protect and safeguard its protectees and provide assistance to ensure protectees are fully prepared to perform their duties as constitutional officers," Stabler said. "Often, items are relayed to protectees – whether it be files, a briefcase, medicine, etc."

Sources: Yellow Hammer News, WVTMAL (2) (3) / Photo credit: Bob Gathany/AL

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