MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — Gov. Robert Bentley's former law enforcement secretary sued his old boss Tuesday, saying that Bentley wrongly fired him.
Spencer Collier, who the day after his firing accused Bentley of having an affair with an adviser, says in the lawsuit that Bentley and the adviser, Rebekah Mason, made misleading statements to the media to try to discredit him.
"Their lies have hurt me financially, have severely damaged my reputation and they have made it their mission to permanently end my career in law enforcement," Collier said in a statement.
The lawsuit is the latest twist in a sordid political tale that has engulfed the 73-year-old governor. It has been punctuated by back-and-forth salvos between Bentley and Collier, who were once close friends when they served together in the Alabama House.
Bentley has previously said Collier was fired after an internal review found a misuse of funds at the state law enforcement agency.
"Mr. Collier was terminated of his duties at ALEA for cause. Once the facts and circumstances become public, I am confident that the justification for terminating him will be shown. We will aggressively defend this lawsuit," Bentley said in a statement.
Mason referred calls to her attorney. A message left for him was not immediately returned.
Collier's lawsuit accuses the governor of firing him because the two disagreed over a request to file an affidavit saying investigators found no evidence of misconduct by prosecutors in the ethics case against House Speaker Mike Hubbard.
Collier said he wanted to file the affidavit, but the governor didn't want him to. He says Bentley asked him to lie to prosecutors and that he was unwilling to do that because it would be illegal.
"As a law enforcement officer, I had a duty to uphold the law and to cooperate with law enforcement investigations," Collier said.
The governor is expected to be a prosecution witness at Hubbard's ethics trial next month. Among the charges Hubbard faces is using his public office to benefit his clients by lobbying the governor's office.
"The governor did not tell anyone including Spencer Collier not to comply with the law — just the opposite. The governor wanted everyone treated correctly and in accordance with the proper law enforcement procedures," the governor's spokeswoman has said.
The governor has admitted making inappropriate remarks to Mason, who has since resigned, but said he did not have a "physical affair." However, racy recordings have surfaced of Bentley making sexually charged remarks, referencing kissing and touching, to someone with the same first name.
The governor's new law enforcement secretary, Stan Stabler, said last week that it was Collier who sent a state helicopter in 2014 to fly Bentley's forgotten wallet from his hometown in Tuscaloosa to his beach house at Fort Morgan. Collier said he never approved the flight.
Bentley said he did ask state security to retrieve his wallet, but he did not know they were going to use a helicopter to do it.
The lawsuit, which names Bentley, Mason, Stabler and others as defendants, is the latest legal entanglement for Bentley.
An Alabama legislator wants the House of Representatives to vote Thursday on a resolution to create a 15-person investigatory committee to see if there are grounds to impeach Bentley.
"It's crystal clear this governor needs to go," Republican Rep. Ed Henry of Hartselle said Tuesday. "If he really cared about this state and about the people, he would put them first and resign."