Warm Southern Breeze

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Follow the Money, Part 2 – Executive Betrayal: Robert Bentley’s Fleecing of Taxpayers & Donors

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Sunday, September 20, 2015

Executive Betrayal:
Robert Bentley’s Fleecing of Taxpayers and Donors
Part 2

Follow the Money

By Donald V. Watkins
©Copyrighted and Published (via Facebook) on September 20, 2015
Used with permission

Rebekah Caldwell Mason with husband Tony Mason (Facebook profile)

Rebekah Caldwell Mason with husband Tony Mason (Facebook profile)

UPDATE 21September2015: Today, the John Kasich for President Campaign issued a statement denying that Rebekah Mason is working for the Kasich Campaign. The statement was issued in response to the sentence in the article below that, “[Rebekah] is reportedly working for Presidential candidate John Kasich (R-Ohio)”. Everybody is distancing themselves from Rebekah, except Governor Bentley. No one is denying that Rebekah Mason secured Bentley’s endorsement of Kasich.

Rebekah Caldwell Mason, Governor Robert Bentley’s mistress and the de facto First Lady of Alabama, is married to Jonathan P. Mason. Jonathan was a weatherman at WVUA, a small local television station in Tuscaloosa. When Bentley took office in January of 2011, however, he made Jonathan the director of Serve Alabama, which is the state agency for the governor’s faith-based programs and services.

Serve Alabama functions as the Alabama State Service Commission, granting and administering ten state AmeriCorps programs across Alabama. It is the state’s lead agency for Volunteer and Donations Management after disasters. This office serves as a liaison to the state for faith-based and community-based non-profit groups.

Serve Alabama also administered FEMA’s Disaster Case Management Program for survivors of the April 2011 storms. It administers the Governor’s Emergency Relief Fund. The office administers ReadyAlabama.gov, Alabama’s statewide disaster preparedness campaign.

Serve Alabama states that it carries out the goals and objectives of the Governor’s Office of Faith-Based and Volunteer Service through partnerships, integrity, and a sense of community. Since Jonathan Mason has been its director, the agency has taken on a highly suspect role in the Bentley administration.

Alabama Governor Bentley with paramour/ Rebekah Caldwell Mason

Alabama Governor Bentley with paramour Rebekah Caldwell Mason

As the governor’s lover and mistress, Rebekah made sure that Bentley directed a lucrative stream of financial payments to Jonathan. Not only did this money to supplement their household income, but it also helped to ensure that Jonathan would turn a blind eye toward the clandestine love affair between Bentley and Rebekah.

It is reported that Jonathan draws a healthy annual salary in his position as director of Serve Alabama, while also receiving economic benefits for the donations he secures for the various programs under this umbrella organization.

Jonathan Mason has received a total of $393,538 in state pay (from 2011 to date) and has dominion and control over a staff of thirteen employees. Payroll costs and employee benefits for Serve Alabama employees have totaled more than $2.9 million since Jonathan has been director.

From his Serve Alabama empire, this former “weatherman” is now in a command position to hand out millions of dollars annually to religious and service organizations all over the state, with no adequate checks and balances and minimal financial oversight.

Serve Alabama AmeriCorps programs and their budgets

Serve Alabama AmeriCorps programs and their budgets

The funds that pour into Serve Alabama come from the general fund, education trust fund and several special revenue funds, federal grants, private contributions, inter-fund state and federal programs, and other sources. The Alabama Commission on National and Community Service is authorized to accept funds and in-kind services from other state and federal entities on behalf of Serve Alabama.

Jonathan, who had no executive experience running a large business enterprise or managing a major financial program prior to joining Serve Alabama, decides how this pool of money will be spent and who will benefit from it. In fiscal year 2011-2012, Jonathan spent $9,591,869, followed by $6,576,204 in 2012-2013, $3,036,305 in 2013-2014, and $2,984,971 in 2014-2015 year-to-date. Even though Jonathan joined Bentley’s administration in January of 2011, he spent the overwhelming majority of Serve Alabama’s $4,589,423 for fiscal year 2010-2011.

Since 2011, Jonathan has awarded more than $20 million in grants and program benefits to a wide range of entities and programs across the state. Most of this money came from federal program funds. Federal funds are protected from fraud, misapplication, misappropriation, and other abuses. These funds are subject to federal criminal prosecution if they are misused.

Many of the Serve Alabama awardees have been qualified and deserving recipients. However, some of the Serve Alabama money went to “pass through” entities that were controlled by Bentley and his cronies. This made it possible for these expenditures escape to the normal transparency and oversight governing the expenditure of other public funds. In fact, audits of Serve Alabama by state examiners only verify that the grant money was disbursed to the recipients. The examiners do not verify how the recipients spent the money. The Commission also has no meaningful oversight role with regard to expenditures by financial recipients.

In reality, Serve Alabama grant and program benefits money has been doled out by Jonathan’s office to whichever organizations, entities, and persons Jonathan, Rebekah and Bentley favored. Since Jonathan has been its director, Serve Alabama has evolved into another slush fund that was used to reward Bentley, the Masons, their friends, and political cronies. It has become a cesspool of corruption.

More to come on “Follow the Money.”

I am not waiting on Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange or Montgomery U.S. Attorney George Beck. I am turning over all of my evidence of wire and mail fraud, money laundering, criminal conspiracy, and federal program fraud to the Justice Department in Washington. Luther Strange and George Beck are too compromised and have too many personal conflicts of interest to investigate these matters. All they would do with this information is whitewash their investigations to cover themselves. From my experience, it is more effective for an experienced lawyer like me to lay out the fraudulent scheme for seasoned prosecutors in Washington. This way, they can follow the money with a road map to all of the tainted players and transactions.

Our in-depth financial fraud investigation requires a lot of work by lawyers and investigators. Now we can all see why the Birmingham News, Montgomery Advertiser and other media organizations in Alabama will not touch this growing scandal. They do not have the resources to do this job properly. Our Facebook news team will continue to bring you all of the breaking news developments involving the Bentley-Mason marital infidelity scandal and cover-up on an exclusive basis. The other “news” organizations can continue to report on bar fights, potholes in the streets, and local politicians getting arrested for DUI.

Where are John Archibald and Kyle Whitmire when you need them?

Apparently that question has already been answered. They do not have the WILL or stomach for this work.

Bentley has already lawyered up with Joe Espy, a white-collar and public corruption specialist. If I were Rebekah and Jonathan, I would be lawyering up as well. Bentley has been advised to remain silent. Rebekah and Jonathan will probably remain silent as well. If they collaborate with each other to evade justice, we will know and report it. Right now, the governor, Rebekah and Jonathan do not know who they can trust. The answer is, “nobody”. Their friends are fleeing them in droves and making sure our Facebook news team gets all of the information we need on this mind-boggling scandal. Bentley has not denied or refuted one statement we have published on this scandal.

Just be patient a little bit longer. We have not reported the worst events in this scandal. We will roll out far more shocking events in our up-coming articles in this “Executive Betrayal” series. I have seen a lot of public corruption and cover-ups in my 42-year legal career, but I have never seen misconduct and corruption on this level. What is more, these are so-called “Christians” who are perpetrating the marital infidelity and fraud involved in this case.

I have learned this morning that AL.com was threatened by the Bentley forces, which caused them to back down. This is why the Birmingham News has stopped writing about the governor’s marital infidelity scandal. It doesn’t matter to our Facebook news team because we already have the critical information and documents that are necessary to provide our readers and federal prosecutors in Washington with the cold hard truth.

Investigative journalism is not for the faint of heart. The Bentley crowd is a cut-throat group of thugs. I can deal with them because I am in the global waste management business. I deal with some of the toughest people on the globe. Many of them are a lot tougher than Bentley.

Jon Mason for The Alabama Association on Nonprofits

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