Alabama’s former top law official, Spencer Collier, has been cleared of allegations made by Gov. Robert Bentley the day before Collier blew the whistle on the governor’s affair with his former communications officer.
Thursday afternoon, Attorney General Luther Strange released a statement saying his office and a grand jury never found any “credible basis” for the criminal inquiry Bentley initiated into Collier’s conduct when he served as secretary of the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency (ALEA).Bentley announced Collier’s termination March 22, after stating an ALEA Integrity Unit had uncovered “a number of issues, including possible misuse of state funds” during the former secretary’s time in office.
The following day, Collier called the allegations “untrue” before giving the first public accounts of Bentley’s long-rumored affair with Mason. Bentley has since admitted having inappropriate conversations with Mason, but has maintained for almost seven months that he “never had a physical affair.”
In his statement Thursday, Strange said the information his office gathered about Collier’s time with ALEA was presented to a grand jury “for efficiency, and to ensure public confidence in the investigation.”“Numerous witnesses, including senior ALEA leadership, were called to testify, (and) in the course of the investigation, no witness provided credible evidence of criminal ‘misuse of state funds,’” Strange wrote. “No witness provided credible evidence of any other criminal violation on the part of former Secretary Collier. Finally, no witness established a credible basis for the initiation of a criminal inquiry in the first place.”
According to Strange, the investigation into Collier is now closed.
Updated: On Friday, Gov. Robert Bentley released a statement briefly discussing the issues that caused him to push for a criminal inquiry into Collier’s tenure at ALEA earlier this year.
“Based on concerns presented to me by a member of the Alabama Senate and information that was given to the then Acting Secretary of Alabama Law Enforcement Agency Stan Stabler, when he assumed his position, I felt a new direction in our state law enforcement agency was needed,” Bentley said. “I am very satisfied with the new direction of ALEA and its leader Secretary Stan Stabler.”
There’s been no word from Bentley’s office yet about who that “member of the Alabama Senate” was or what their concerns about Collier might have been.