Warm Southern Breeze

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#ALpolitics @GovernorBentley’s CPA & Fundraiser Leaves Over Unethical Request

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Saturday, September 19, 2015

Mike Echols, CPA, Mike H. Echols is a CPA living in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. Echols was born on December 22, 1951, has one daughter Christy (LeFon), and is married to Amy Echols (nee Amy Celeste Holt of Montgomery, Alabama). Her son is Christopher Gattozzi. She serves on the Board of Directors for the Kentuck Art Association in Northport, Alabama. She is the marketing director at the Tuscaloosa accounting firm JamisonMoneyFarmer PC. Echols studied at the University of Alabama from 1970-1974, receiving a Bachelor of Science degree in Accounting. He belonged to the Pi Kappa Phi fraternity. Echols is the owner of Michael H Echols & Associates, PC. (aka Echols, Michael H & Associates P.C. and Echols Coogler and Associate PC CPA) Echols is a member of the Alabama Society of CPAs and the American Institute of CPAs. Echols is also associated with Project Delivery Systems, Llc; Northport Professional Properties, Llc and Victory Ink Company, Inc. Echols belongs to Franklin Resources Group which is a public relations and lobbying firm based in Montgomery, Alabama, that is associated with many state-wide political action funds. Echols is a founding member of Tusco PAC, whose purpose is “to support candidates with a pro-business philosophy.” To support candidates with a pro-business philosophy. – See more at: http://openbama.org/pac/index/778#sthash.cWbsbhOo.dpufHe chaired the T Town PAC II, which was Alabama Governor Robert Bentley’s largest source of campaign money in 2010. Echols received the 2003 Advocate of the Year Award from the West Alabama Chamber of Commerce for “his advocacy role on be behalf of his clients, business owners, and the community’s business climate through his counsel, active political involvement on behalf of business issues, consulting and support relationships.” Echols has chaired several statewide PACs, six of which have routinely made contributions in local elections. Alabama Political Reporter’s Beth Clayton reported, “In addition to chairing the T Town PAC II, Echols has been listed as both the chair and treasurer of numerous other PACs: Capital PAC, CMG PAC, GOTV PAC, KAW PAC, Pride PAC, Pride PAC II, T Town PAC, T Town PAC II and Tusco PAC, many of which are dissolved.” Echols was the treasurer for mayoral candidate Sammy Watson in 2005. Commenting in a Tuscaloosa News article by Stephanie Taylor about the Tuscaloosa Firefighters Public Relations Fund having contributed $40,000 to mayoral candidate Walt Maddox and $10,450 to City Council candidates in 2005 Echols said, “I don’t believe you saw any one group of special interests have that much money in a single race. Do people expect anything in return for making contributions? If they don’t, I’m proud of them.” Echols was the chair of Educate Tuscaloosa PAC, as reported by Jamon Smith in The Tuscaloosa News, which supported only non-incumbent school board candidates. The ET PAC’s campaign postcards and website had the same P.O. Box 2663 that was also found on the campaign materials of Lee Garrison, who ran successfully for the chairman of the Tuscaloosa City Board of Education. PACs associated with Echols contributed to incumbents in the 2013 Tuscaloosa municipal elections, including Mayor Walt Maddox and Council Members Bobby Howard, Bob Lundell, William Tinker, Harrison Taylor, Cynthia Almond and former Council Member Lee Garrison. Echols was the primary deal maker in 2012 for the proposed lease agreement between the Alabama Department of Mental Health and Tuscaloosa County Park & Recreation Authority, as Laurie Johns explained it, “involving a parcel of property next to Northridge High School which had come to be designated for use as a ‘public school facility’ without the input of the Board of Education.”

Mike Echols, CPA
Mike H. Echols lives in Tuscaloosa, AL, and was born December 22, 1951. He has one daughter Christy (LeFon), and is married to Amy Echols (nee Amy Celeste Holt of Montgomery, Alabama). Her son is Christopher Gattozzi. She serves on the Board of Directors for the Kentuck Art Association in Northport, AL, and is the Marketing Director at the Tuscaloosa accounting firm JamisonMoneyFarmer PC.
Mike studied at the University of Alabama from 1970-1974, and earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Accounting. And as a student, belonged to the Pi Kappa Phi fraternity.
He owns Michael H Echols & Associates, PC, (aka Echols, Michael H & Associates P.C. and Echols Coogler and Associate PC CPA), is a member of the Alabama Society of CPAs and the American Institute of CPAs, and is associated with Project Delivery Systems, LLC; Northport Professional Properties, LLC and Victory Ink Company, Inc.
He belongs to Franklin Resources Group, a public relations and lobbying firm based in Montgomery, AL, associated with many state-wide political action funds, and is a founding member of Tusco PAC, whose purpose is “to support candidates with a pro-business philosophy.”
Echols has chaired several statewide PACs, six of which have routinely made contributions in local elections. Alabama Political Reporter’s Beth Clayton reported, “In addition to chairing the T Town PAC II, Echols has been listed as both the chair and treasurer of numerous other PACs: Capital PAC, CMG PAC, GOTV PAC, KAW PAC, Pride PAC, Pride PAC II, T Town PAC, T Town PAC II and Tusco PAC, many of which are dissolved.”

EXCLUSIVE BREAKING NEWS—

Mike Echols Splits From Bentley

By Donald V. Watkins
©Copyrighted and Published (via Facebook) on September 18, 2015
Used with permission

Governor Robert Bentley’s long-time personal CPA and heavy hitting moneyman for the Robert Bentley Campaign Committee, has split from the governor. Echols, who handled the financial books and records for both the Bentleys and the Campaign Committee, resigned his post over a disagreement with Bentley about Rebekah Mason, the governor’s mistress and married paramour.

The precise nature of this dispute, which occurred several weeks ago, is not known at this time.

What is known, however, is that Bentley wanted Echols to do something questionable with the financial records relating to Rebekah Mason. The governor’s request did not sit well with Echols, a respected Tuscaloosa accountant and well-known PAC organizer. During a heated exchange between the two men, Echols refused the governor’s request and turned over the various checkbooks and financial records in his custody to Bentley. With this handover, the professional relationship between Echols and Bentley ended.

Echols has been Bentley’s accountant for many years. He was also the Campaign Committee’s accountant in 2010 and 2014.

In a slick move that is expected to become the focus of First Lady Dianne Bentley’s divorce proceedings, as well as law enforcement agencies in Washington, the governor stashed $500,000 of cash from the marital estate away for his life with Rebekah after the divorce. He laundered this money in the form of leftover donations through a series of transfers, starting with a personal loan to his campaign account, then a transfer of this money from his campaign to his newly formed non-profit organization, the Alabama Council for Excellent Government, followed by payments from the Council to Rebekah Mason for services rendered. The loan can be repaid to Bentley’s campaign after his divorce.

As we reported on September 13, 2015, the governor has secured the legal services of Joe Espy, a Montgomery attorney and fellow University of Alabama trustee, to handle his potential criminal exposure for using state resources to carry on his illicit love affair, among other matters. Espy specializes in white-collar crimes and public corruption cases. Bentley confirmed Espy’s hiring earlier this week.

Echols’ departure from the governor’s inner circle adds to a growing list of top staffers and supporters who have split with Bentley over his illicit love affair with Rebekah Mason and his cover-up of the misuse of state resources and misspending of campaign funds. This list includes prominent officials in Bentley’s Tuscaloosa church who have urged him, albeit without success, to break off the affair. The list also includes a staffer who reported Rebekah’s misuse of state resources and misspending of campaign funds directly to the governor, and was chastised.

Others on the list include former trooper lieutenant Wendell Ray Lewis, the departing chief legal advisor David Byrne, a former executive employee at the state capitol who quit because of the Bentley-Mason affair, two of the three board members of the Alabama Council for Excellent Government (whose resignations are forthcoming), and several security officers (who are waiting to bolt from the mess created by this scandal).

More to come.

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