Former ALEA secretary Spencer Collier cleared, investigation closed

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — The Alabama attorney general’s office says a grand jury has cleared former Law Enforcement Secretary Spencer Collier of wrongdoing.

The attorney general’s office on Thursday announced a grand jury found no criminal wrongdoing by Collier and is closing the investigation requested by Gov. Robert Bentley’s administration.

Bentley fired Collier in March saying a review found possible misuse of funds. The findings were sent to the attorney general’s office.

The attorney general’s office said grand jurors found no misuse of money or a basis for initiating the investigation.

An internal Alabama Law Enforcement Agency report quoted employees raising questions about Collier’s attendance and spending. Collier’s attorney Kenny Mendelsohn called the report a retaliatory “sham” because Collier exposed Bentley’s relationship with a staffer.

Bentley admitted making inappropriate remarks, but denied an affair.

UPDATE FRIDAY OCT. 21, 2016: A response to the grand jury’s decision was released from Spencer Collier’s lawyer’s office:

On October 20, 2016, a Special Grand Jury convened by the Alabama Attorney General declined to act on Governor Robert Bentley’s and ALEA Secretary Stan Stabler’s allegations against Spencer Collier.  Attorney General Luther Strange issued a press release stating no witnesses provided credible evidence of misuse of state funds or any other criminal violations on the part of Collier.  Most importantly, Attorney General Strange also stated that “no witness established a credible basis for the initiation of a criminal inquiry in the first place.”

Collier says that while he feels vindicated this is really a sad day for the State of Alabama and in particular ALEA. It is now abundantly clear that the Governor and Secretary Stabler used substantial state law enforcement resources as a political tool.  The ALEA investigation was based on conjecture, rumors and false information. As a result, this investigation has called into serious question the integrity of the ALEA Integrity Unit.  Collier stated that he is very disappointed in the manner in which Secretary Stabler and the Integrity Unit conducted this investigation because it was not consistent with the high quality and procedures used by ALEA. It is unbelievable that Governor Bentley continues to support the ALEA investigation given the poor quality of the investigation, lack of first hand witnesses, and the Attorney General’s determination that there was no credible basis for the initiation of a criminal inquiry in the first place. This further shows that the investigation was not a bona fide investigation but rather a personal attack on Spencer to deflect attention away from the Governor’s own behavior.

Collier’s lawyer, Kenny Mendelsohn, stated that the Governor has given so many conflicting statements about Spencer that it is hard to know where the Governor really stands. In the Governor’s State of the State Address on February 2, 2016, the Governor stated that under Spencer’s direction, “ALEA has become one of the most efficient and effective agencies in the state.” 15 days later, the Governor stated that Collier was being punished because he disobeyed the Governor’s order to not give an affidavit in the Mike Hubbard Ethics Case, which was an unlawful order. Then on March 22, 2016 Governor Bentley fired Spencer stating it was because of a “possible misuse of state funds.” On April 19, 2016, the Governor issued a Press Statement saying Spencer was “terminated for cause.” Then yesterday, he issued a statement to WSFA saying he terminated Spencer because he just “felt a new direction in our state law enforcement agency was needed.”

Mendelsohn also stated that he anticipates amending the complaint to add additional defendants and claims in Spencer’s lawsuit.  Collier stated that he looks forward to the witnesses being questioned under oath and to having his day in court.

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