Warm Southern Breeze

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Alabama Governor Bentley OK’d $580K Trooper Gate pay, lied about it

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Monday, October 13, 2014

#ALPolitics @GovernorBentley OK’d $580K #TrooperGate pay, lied about it  http://j.mp/TrooperGate

Alabama Republican Governor Robert Bentley, MD, OK’d $580,000 Trooper Gate pay, then lied about it
http://j.mp/TrooperGate

Bentley Punished DPS Bosses for Questioning Lewis’ Gigantic Overtime Pay

By Donald V. Watkins
©Copyrighted and Published (via Facebook) on October 12, 2014
Used with permission

Retired state trooper Capt. Mark Whitaker ran the Protective Services Division and Capitol Police in the Alabama Department of Public Safety (“DPS”) until this year. This is the DPS division responsible for guarding and driving Governor Robert Bentley. Wendell Ray Lewis was a sergeant under his command.

While running his division, Whitaker learned that Lewis’ overtime pay was pre-approved by Bentley and never to be questioned. This was even true with regard to Lewis’ claimed entitlement to 24 hours of overtime for a single day. Prior to Lewis, Whitaker had never seen a trooper make a claim for or receive 24 hours of overtime pay for a single day.

On January 14, 2014, Whitaker was called into then-DPS Director Hugh McCall’s office where McCall told Whitaker that his entire division would be transferred to the newly created Alabama Law Enforcement Agency (“ALEA”). As a result of the transfer, Whitaker, a highly respected captain, would fall under the command and supervision of Lewis, who at that time was a sergeant. Unbelievably, Captain Whitaker would be reporting to Sgt. Lewis.

This order came directly from Governor Bentley.

This humiliating role reversal was the ultimate insult for Whitaker, a career officer who had climbed the ranks within DPS and earned his command position. According to published reports, Whitaker believes this demeaning and insulting personnel action – a captain reporting to a sergeant – occurred merely because he sought to question Lewis’ overtime pay in the months prior.

“This is what I get for doing my job,” Whitaker complained to McCall at the time. He retired soon after.

Whitaker is the second high-ranking trooper to retire over the Bentley-Lewis overtime pay scandal. In 2011, Major Marc McHenry, now retired, served as the DPS chief over Protective Services and the Capitol Police. Lewis also worked under McHenry.

When McHenry realized in 2011 that Lewis had accumulated a gigantic amount of overtime pay, he tried to put an end to Lewis’ financial windfall. At the time, troopers were not being paid for overtime. They were given time off instead.

McHenry sent the issue to Lewis’ supervisor, and two days later he was summoned to the office of then Lt. Col. Kevin Wright. At the time, Wright was the second-in-command within DPS.

McHenry was told by Wright to never again question Lewis’ overtime pay. Wright told McHenry that Bentley is the one who determines who gets paid, and Bentley had determined that Lewis would be paid for his overtime.

According to McHenry and state payment records, Lewis got paid for all of his overtime. In an exclusive story written by Birmingham News columnist John Archibald on September 10, 2014, McHenry said, “From that day forward [Lewis] got paid overtime. Nobody else did”.

With Bentley’s staunch backing, Lewis went on to rack up a whopping $580,000 in pay since Bentley has been governor. Lewis’ overtime pay only stopped when Archibald broke his shocking story about Bentley’s Troopergate scandal.

Morale within DPS and the ALEA has plummeted as a result of Bentley direct intervention and sponsorship of Lewis for preferential treatment within the trooper ranks. Everyone within DPS and ALEA knows that Whitaker and McHenry were punished for questioning Lewis’ unbelievably high amount of overtime pay.

This is the same Wendell Ray Lewis, an African American trooper, who was promoted in August to lieutenant over more qualified white troopers who scored higher on the promotional exam. Bentley made this promotion happen and even boasted last month that Lewis should have been promoted, regardless of his performance on the promotional exam, because he has leadership qualities.

Bentley has publicly proclaimed that he had nothing to do with the $580,000 Lewis has been paid over the past few years or with Lewis’ gigantic leap over the more qualified candidates for promotion to the lieutenant’s job. He expects us to believe that these two fortuitous events just sort of “happened” for Lewis.

Bentley has refused to order the immediate reversal of these two personnel actions. He has also refused to recover the windfall overtime money paid to Lewis, and he has failed to rescind Lewis’ promotion.

The special treatment Bentley has showered upon Lewis has thrust the personal relationship between Bentley and Lewis into the spotlight. We will examine the special personal relationship between these two men in greater detail next Sunday.

Read John Archibald’s investigative journalism:
“Men who once ran DPS security division say Gov. Robert Bentley intervened on behalf of trooper,”
September 10, 2014 at 3:02 PM, updated September 11, 2014 at 10:56 AM

and

“Gov. Robert Bentley protector was paid big, promoted over more qualified troopers.”
September 07, 2014 at 6:24 AM, updated September 08, 2014 at 9:34 AM

and

“Gov. Bentley said he had nothing to do with security chief pay and promotion”
By September 10, 2014 at 6:30 AM, updated September 10, 2014 at 8:59 AM

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