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  • Writer's pictureDonald V. Watkins

"Forbidden Love" – Robert Bentley’s Secret Love Affair – Part 3

By Donald V. Watkins

©Copyrighted and Published (via Facebook) on September 11, 2015.

Bentley’s Real Executive Protection

George L. Beck, Jr., is the United States Attorney for the Middle District of Alabama, which includes Montgomery.

President Obama appointed Beck to the top federal prosecutor’s job in Montgomery in 2011. Beck’s Senate confirmation took a mere three months from the date of his nomination, even in the midst of a gridlocked Congress, because Beck enjoyed the support and loyalty of Alabama’s two Republican senators, as well as its Republican governor and state attorney general. For all practical purposes, Beck is a “closet” Republican.

Beck received his law degree from the University of Alabama, where he was a law school classmate and personal friend of David Byrne, Governor Robert Bentley’s chief legal advisor. Over the years, the two men formed a very close personal and professional bond. They also practiced law in the same law firm for many years, and Byrne's son was even a partner in Beck's law firm. Byrne and Beck, along with their wives, hang out together socially. It would therefore appear that Byrne holds significant sway over Beck.

Byrne eventually became one of Beck’s most trusted confidants, especially after Beck became U.S. Attorney. By late 2012, Bentley realized that he could effectively commandeer the U.S. Attorney's office in Montgomery through Byrne’s close relationship with Beck. This allowed Bentley to use Beck’s office, including its broad prosecutorial discretion, as a tool to protect the governor from potential public corruption charges.

In light of the laundering of Bentley’s leftover campaign funds and his use of state property for personal gain, one might say that Bentley is in desperate need of Beck’s protection. Because of the strong Byrne-Beck relationship, Bentley feels confident that he has Beck under control. As a prophylactic measure in case he is wrong, Bentley has secured the services of Joe Espy, a Montgomery attorney and fellow University of Alabama trustee, to handle any potential criminal exposure for using state resources and campaign funds to carry on his illicit love affair.

Bentley diverted attention away from his secret love affair for three years, in part, by launching a $2 million high-profile investigation of financial management practices at Alabama State University, a historically black college. Bentley referred the preliminary results of this investigation to Beck, as well as a handpicked Republican state prosecutor in Pickens County. This diversionary tactic played on the worst instincts of white Alabamians and severely crippled ASU because of the heavy negative media coverage regarding the investigation. Thirty-six months and two grand jury investigations later, no ASU money was found to be missing or otherwise unaccounted for. No ASU trustee or administrator was ever charged, criminally or civilly, with any financial wrongdoing.

Beck’s office conducted the federal investigation of ASU and its officials. Beck unleashed a flurry of grand jury subpoenas against ASU and various entities associated with the University. At first, it all seemed to be a legitimate exercise of prosecutorial power.

One of the matters probed by Beck was a “rumor”, which was publicly announced by Bentley, that former ASU board chairman Elton Dean secured a contract for a female vendor with whom he was having an extra-marital relationship. On the basis of this “rumor” (not an actual allegation), Beck jumped into action.

Beck’s office fired grand jury subpoenas at ASU like bullets. The female vendor was hauled before a federal grand jury and browbeaten by Beck’s prosecutors. Despite an intense and lengthy federal investigation, no improper relationship was ever established between Dean and the vendor or with any other ASU official.

To date, not one federal grand jury subpoena has been issued by Beck to Bentley or Rebekah Mason about their love affair. This failure of prosecutorial duty and equal justice is glaring because it has been widely known since 2013 that the governor has been using state resources and campaign funds to fund his love affair with Mrs. Mason. Beck continues to look the other way.

Has Beck simply missed all of the signs of Bentley’s misuse of public funds? No he has not. Are allegations of taxpayer-sponsored infidelity worthy of a federal investigation? Apparently they are, as evidenced by the ASU investigation, but not this time. It is interesting that a mere “rumor” of infidelity relating to an ASU trustee could be enough to launch Beck into aggressive action, but the ongoing love affair carried out by Bentley seems to be off-limits.

Why is it that Beck has turned a blind eye to Bentley’s not-so-secret affair with Mason while crucifying the individuals associated with the ASU trustee-related “rumor”? Beck, using prosecutorial discretion, has chosen to give Bentley a “pass” on his affair with Mason because David Byrne controls Beck.

A new Justice Department policy announced this week by Attorney General Loretta Lynch just might help to nullify Beck’s preferential treatment for Bentley. Stung by years of criticism that it has coddled high-profile white-collar criminals, the Justice Department issued new policies that prioritize the prosecution of individual employees – not just their companies – and put pressure on corporations to turn over evidence against their executives. In this case, the focus of the Justice Department’s investigation might be on Bentley and Mason and not just the companies and organizations that funded their love affair.

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