Gov. Bentley responds to lawsuit alleging he had sexual affair w - WBRC FOX6 News - Birmingham, AL

Gov. Bentley responds to lawsuit alleging he had sexual affair with Rebekah Mason

Gov. Robert Bentley and his former top political aide Rebekah Mason. Source: WSFA Gov. Robert Bentley and his former top political aide Rebekah Mason. Source: WSFA
Source: WBRC Source: WBRC
Source: WBRC Source: WBRC

Governor Robert Bentley’s former chief of security, Wendall Ray Lewis, has filed a civil lawsuit against Bentley and his former senior political aide Rebekah Mason, claiming the two had a physical and sexual affair.

Bentley and Mason have both previously denied having a physical affair, but Bentley admitted to making "inappropriate comments" to Mason after audio recording surfaced of a conversation between them. 

Mason resigned as Bentley's senior political aide on March 30, saying her only plans were to focus on her husband and children, who were the most important people in her life.

A spokesperson for Bentley recently denied that he was considering rehiring Mason in any capacity, after Bentley refused to answer if he would ever consider hiring her again

John Saxon, Lewis' attorney, says Bentley and Mason's attorneys have had a draft of this lawsuit since Sept. 8. but the different parties couldn't resolve the situation. Saxon says they ultimately moved forward with this lawsuit "in order to find justice" for the wrongs he says were done against Lewis.

In the suit filed on Wednesday, Nov. 23 in Montgomery County, Lewis claims Bentley admitted to him that he was having a sexual affair with Mason.

Lewis claims the fallout from Bentley and Mason’s affair forced him into early retirement from the state, that they invaded his privacy and defamed him and that it ultimately cost him future employment.

Lewis says Bentley, Mason and the other defendants named in the suit put him “in a false light” by claiming Lewis worked unapproved overtime hours for the governor. Lewis contends that the overtime hours were all approved and the defendants’ denial were intentionally made with malice and were intended to discredit Lewis.

Lewis demands a judgement against Bentley, Mason and the other defendants and asks for compensatory and punitive damages, plus attorney and court fees. He is also demanding a retraction from Bentley regarding the statements that Bentley didn’t approve Lewis’ overtime.

Lewis says he and others advising the Governor unsuccessfully tried to persuade Bentley to end the affair, to which he replied, "If they don't stop treating her like some sort of ... I'll fire 'em all. In fact, I'll fire anybody who continues to mistreat Rebekah."

Lewis claims that Bentley's sons went to Mason's parents in Haleyville for help to end the affair, "to no avail." It says when Bentley found out, "he was furious.

The lawsuit also claims:

  • On a couple of occasions, Bentley told Lewis he loved Rebekah. “One time, on the front porch of the Governor’s Tuscaloosa home, he also told Plaintiff, ‘I love Dianne. But I love Rebekah more.’”
  • In Feb. 2014, Gov. Bentley and Mrs. Bentley argued about Mrs. Mason. It says the governor got mad and drove himself to the beach. Mrs. Bentley told Lewis and expressed concern that the governor might harm himself. "The Governor had left in such a rage he forgot his wallet, which was flown by helicopter to him--at state expense."
  • When news of flying the wallet to Gov. Bentley broke, Stan Stabler claimed he didn't see the text message from the Governor to Mrs. Mason. "That was not a truthful statement; he did. It was sexual in nature," the lawsuit says.
  • Lewis said he saw Rebekah Mason coming out of Bentley's office "with her hair all messed up, and straightening up her skirt as she emerged from the Governor's office, after having been in there for hours."
  • Lewis claims that Bentley told him that he “was going to create a ‘501(c)(4) to get Rebekah paid.’” Lewis believes this 501(c)(4) was in fact the Alabama Council for Excellent Government non-profit. According to the suit, it was established in 2014 by Bentley’s former legal advisor Cooper Shattuck to advance the beliefs and policies of Bentley. Lewis says he was told by Bentley’s Chief of Staff Seth Hammett that Hammett had told Bentley Mason couldn’t be on the state payroll because of the relationship, and that was why they needed the 501(c)(4).
  • An iPad was synced to Bentley's iPhone, and Mrs. Bentley was able to see the "steamy cell phone text messages" Bentley was sending to Mason. Mrs. Bentley told Lewis about the texts, the lawsuit claims.
  • Lewis claims he retired "earlier than he had ever intended because of the actions of Bentley and Mason." He says he went to see Bentley's son Paul on Jan. 8, 2016, and Paul Bentley showed him some of the texts between his father, the Governor, and Mrs. Mason, "which were sexual in nature."
  • On August 4, 2014, the Governor leased a plane for his campaign. Lewis claims he told Bentley he couldn't put Mason on a state plane, and Bentley replied, "That’s why I lease these planes.” They flew from Montgomery to Jasper on a private plane, because the private plane did not have to keep a manifest. The lawsuit claims once they were on the ground, Bentley said, “Listen, guys. I want Rebekah on these planes.” On the plane, Mason would sit across from the Governor and discreetly touch his leg. One campaign staffer saw the Governor touch Mason’s leg. 
  • Lewis says when he asked the governor if his relationship with Mason was physical. "After initially hemming and hawing, the Governor replied, reluctantly but clearly, 'Yeah, it was physical.'"
  • The suit claims Bentley sent word that he needed to talk to Lewis on May 7, 2014. When Lewis found him in the Capitol, Bentley was crying. Mason was also in the office, and also appeared to be crying. Bentley told Lewis that Dianne had accused him of having an affair, and she had a recording, but had given it to his son Paul.
  • Bentley asked Lewis to find out if there was a recording, then told Lewis, “Ray, I am embarrassed for you to hear what’s on that recording. It’s between Rebekah and I. I am ashamed of what came out of my mouth.”
  • Lewis then asked if the affair was true. “Yes. I am ashamed of what I have done," the lawsuit claims Bentley said.
  • Lewis said he then told the Governor that he was getting into a touchy situation because they use state vehicles and state planes, saying, “This is about the State of Alabama.”
  • Lewis claims Bentley told him, “Ray, I know. I need you to go upstairs and break-up with Rebekah for me.”
  • Lewis said he found Mason upstairs and told her the affair had to end. 
  • According to the suit, Lewis told Mason, "The Governor sent me up here and he says this has to end. Rebekah, this would embarrass the Governor, his family and everybody involved. This would embarrass you and your family. You can’t be his girlfriend and have him take you around in state cars and planes.” Mason replied, “I know.” The meeting lasted an hour, with both Lewis and Mason crying much of the time. Toward the end of the meeting, the Governor walked in, started rubbing and massaging Mason’s shoulders, stroking her hair, and saying, “Baby, it’s gonna be alright.”
  • The suit claims Bentley wrote a drug prescription for Mason. Lewis says he saw a text in which Bentley asked if Mason received the medicine he had prescribed her. It doesn't say what kind of medicine he allegedly prescribed.
  • Lewis claims on at least one occasion, "Governor Bentley ordered generic Viagra in Dianne Bentley’s name, and had it shipped to the Mansion." Dianne allegedly intercepted it and told Lewis about it.
  • Lewis claims he was concerned about Dianne Bentley's health and was concerned she might take her own life.
  • Lewis said Bentley's desire to be with Mason at all costs meant that, on at least one occasion, they met at a lake with no security present.

Read the full lawsuit here:

Bentley's attorney John Neiman issued the following statement in response to the lawsuit on Wednesday afternoon:

Mr. Lewis’ lawsuit is an outrageous abuse of the system. The bulk of his complaint is full of factual allegations the Governor denies, and those allegations ultimately be shown to be irresponsible and false. In addition, those allegations have nothing to do with the actual legal claims asserted by Mr. Lewis. He appears to have included those irrelevant factual allegations in his complaint for the purposes of sensationalizing what is a meritless legal case.

We will ask the Court to quickly dismiss Lewis’s legal claims, which are meritless through and through.

To understand why Lewis’ lawsuit is so outrageous, look to the article that he claims to be the basis for it—a 2014 article where Mr. Lewis says Governor Bentley somehow ruined his reputation. That is a baseless claim by Lewis because Governor Bentley did not say negative things about Lewis in that article. To the contrary, that article says Governor Bentley “praised” Lewis “as having worked to put together the best security detail and Capitol policy force the state has ever had.” In that article Governor Bentley said that Lewis “is a man of honor and integrity and I support him one hundred percent.” In that article Governor Bentley called Lewis “the man for the job.” In light of those statements, it is indefensible for Lewis to now seek hundreds of thousands of dollars from the State and Governor Bentley on the theory that Governor Bentley somehow defamed him in that same article.

Lewis’s claim that he was “constructively discharged” by Governor Bentley and lost money as a result of his work for the Governor is equally outrageous. Public records show that when Lewis worked for the state government, he made more than $661,615 over five years, based on the overtime he was paid. But he chose to quit. That was his choice—no one else’s. Public records show that as a result of his decision to quit, Lewis is now getting $87,387.60 per year in State retirement income, for life. But now he is trying to force the State to give him more money, and to go so far as to extract money from the pocket of a governor who has never even taken a salary since he took office.

The Governor’s legal team will tell the Court that Mr. Lewis’s allegations are irresponsible and wrong, and will pursue all appropriate remedies against this abusive lawsuit. We hope to have this lawsuit dismissed soon.

Gov. Bentley issued his own statement in response:

Ray Lewis has presented a baseless, malicious, slanderous, salacious and poorly constructed civil complaint against myself and others in a thinly veiled attempt to collect hundreds of thousands of dollars from State of Alabama taxpayers, myself and my family.

The outrageous claims are based on worn-out Internet rumors, fake news and street gossip. These bogus claims are an attempt to smear my Administration, to distract from the important matters facing our state, and to attempt to assign wrongdoing where it does not exist.

I have wholeheartedly rejected this attempt and will not allow the people of this state nor my family to be exploited.

Because I have rejected his claim, Mr. Lewis has now unfortunately chosen to publicly file his false scheme disguised as a Civil Suit, which is filled with blatant lies, fictitious accounts, salacious and slanderous accusations, all in an effort to hurt my family and our state.

I am deeply saddened and disappointed in Ray, who served the State of Alabama taxpayers as Chief of the Governor’s Security Detail and whom I trusted with protecting my life and the life of my family.

Even in times when Ray faced criticism, I always publicly defended and supported him.

As many Alabama families sit down to enjoy Thanksgiving with their loved ones, I look forward to doing the same with mine. During this season of gratitude and reconciliation, I am even more deeply disappointed in these further attacks on my family.

I will not allow a shakedown of taxpayers or my family and look forward to vigorously fighting this lawsuit. I will continue to protect my family, defend the people of our State, stand up for all the men and women in law enforcement and work hard for all of Alabama.

Lewis' attorney John Saxon released this statement supporting his client and says it's time for Governor Bentley to tell the truth. Read his full statement below:

Ray Lewis was a career State Trooper. He had a quarter century in law enforcement. He had been the “body man” for Governor Bentley. He had provided security for Coach Nick Saban.

He spent a lot of time with Governor Bentley. He viewed him as a father figure. He was close to the entire Bentley family. He would have done anything for the Governor, including taking a bullet. But when you are the head of the Governor’s security detail, you see a lot, hear a lot, know a lot. And there
came a time when both Governor Bentley and Rebekah Mason wanted Ray Lewis gone.

It is not in a State Trooper’s job description to break-off the Governor’s affair with the Governor’s mistress. But Governor Bentley asked Ray Lewis to do that, and he did - - until the Governor undid it.

Rebekah Mason saw to it that reporters got fed information about the amount of overtime Ray Lewis was receiving. Of course he was receiving a lot of overtime; all State Troopers in the security detail to the Governor receive a lot of overtime. Ray Lewis earned every penny of overtime he received from
the State, and every penny of Ray Lewis’ overtime was approved. Yet when the story of Lewis’ overtime hit the newspapers, the Governor denied approving the overtime, denied any knowledge of who got overtime, and both betrayed, and defamed, Ray Lewis. In current parlance, he “threw him under the
bus”. The tape recording of a conversation with the Governor made by Rep. Allen Farley, released this past August, makes clear that the Governor’s prior public statements about Lewis’ overtime were untrue.

Lewis was stripped of his job as head of the Governor’s security detail, and was forced to retire early. He now has his own security business, but no one will touch him. He’s toxic. Google Ray Lewis, and he is the guy that got all that unapproved overtime.

Ray Lewis may be the most decent, honest, and believable client I have ever had, and I have had some wonderful clients. We have tried to avoid filing this lawsuit. The lawyers for Governor Bentley and Mrs. Mason have had a draft of this lawsuit since September 8th. But we were ultimately unable to resolve
our differences, and hence this suit is Lewis’ last resort in order to find justice.

It is time that the Governor man-up and tell the people of Alabama the truth: he loved his wife, but he loves Rebekah Mason more. He gave her inordinate power in state government. And together, they damaged the lives of many people, including Ray Lewis.

Jon and Rebekah Mason declined to comment at this time.

Mason resigned as Bentley's senior political adviser in March after allegations of an affair between her and the governor surfaced.

Spencer Collier, the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency Secretary, held a news conference and accused Gov. Robert Bentley of carrying on an extra-marital affair with a staff member a day after he was fired by Bentley.

Bentley admitted making inappropriate comments but denied having a physical relationship.

Bentley's wife of 50 years, Dianne, filed for divorce in Aug. 2015, saying "their marriage has suffered an irretrievable breakdown," according to court records.

The court documents say Dianne Bentley "states that there is such a complete incompatibility of temperament that the parties can no longer live together” and their marriage “has suffered an irretrievable breakdown and that further attempts at reconciliation are impractical and not in the best interests of the parties."

It also says "there exists a conflict of personalities which destroys the legitimate aims of matrimony and all possibilities of reconciliation are futile."

The documents say the Bentleys have been separated since January 2015, the same month Gov. Bentley was sworn in for his second term as Alabama's governor.

Related stories:

UPDATE: AL gov responds, denies sexual affair with top aide

AL First Lady Dianne Bentley files for divorce from Gov. Robert Bentley

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