The Governor of Alabama Robert Bentley announced in August 2015 that he and his wife of 50 years were to divorce. This is one of his senior advisors Rebekah Caldwell Mason. There are rumors out there about Bentley and Mason’s relationship. Bentley, 72, and his wife, Dianne, cited an “irretrievable breakdown” of their marriage. The couple had tried to reconcile but that proved impossible. The details of their divorce have been sealed by Count Circuit Judge Elizabeth Hamner. She was appointed to the bench by Bentley in 2011.
Here’s what you need to know about Rebekah Mason:
1. Gov. Bentley Had Admitted to Making Inappropriate Comments to Mason but He Says That’s as Far as it Went
In a statement Mason, responding to allegations about an alleged affair by recently fired Alabama Law Enforcement Agency chief Spencer Collier, said in part, via AL.com:
There is no way that man (Collier) would have said what he did…about another man. He only said what he said about my professional abilities because I am a woman. His comments were clear, demonstrated gender bias.
Since 2010, I have proudly served as Gov. Robert Bentley’s Campaign Press Secretary, Communications Director, Advisor, Campaign Communications Director and now Senior Policy Advisor. It is an honor to serve our Governor and the people of our state.
On March 23, Gov. Bentley gave a press conference in which he stated that although he made sexually inappropriate comments to Mason in the past, it went no further than that.
These new allegations are based on audio tapes that were leaked by Spencer Collier. On those tapes, Gov. Bentley refers to Mason “baby” and longs to see her again, according to Yellowhammer News.
In a statement to Fox Alabama, Collier said:
As early a month ago, the governor told me he was madly in love with her but he was too honorable of a man to ask her to leave her husband. I told the governor that that conversation alone was improper.
In the recording that I heard, by no means do I mean to be crude, but there were references to her breasts, and to touching her, and there was a very clear reference to locking the door.
In fact, the statement was, ‘If we’re going to do what we did yesterday, we need to lock the door.
Collier had been fired from his position as agency chief by Gov. Bentley on March 22, reports the Mobile Advertiser. The cited reason for his firing was a misuse of government funds. It was after he was removed when he leaked the audio recordings.
2. Mason Is Regarded as the ‘Voice of Governor Bentley’
A feature on Mason from the Yellowhammer News wrote “After Bentley was elected, Mason came into the administration as Communications Director. Bentley World has been basically devoid of controversy, which can be attributed in part to Mason’s deft handling of the communications shop.” A source told Yellowhammer at the time:
Rebekah’s the governor’s voice. I don’t think you can overstate how influential she is when it comes to the message the public hears from this governor.
That article mentioned that staffers brought problems to Mason to decide how best to present those issues to Governor Bentley. On the governor’s official travel flight documents from the first quarter of 2015 shows Mason traveling multiple times on the state’s private jet. Al.com reports that Mason has no state email or phone number and she is not on the state payroll. Sources told the website that she is paid via a third party, the Alabama Council for Excellent Government. That group describes itself as “The Alabama Council for Excellent Government exists to support Governor Bentley in his efforts to solve real problems and to make Alabama greater, stronger and more excellent for all the hardworking men and women who call this great state our home.”
I wish I could tell you the dirty details of a sordid gubernatorial affair.
That would be explosive.
Or I wish I could tell you all the details of a gubernatorial affair have simply been invented by the dirty tricks of powerful Alabamians who want to discredit the governor to hold him political hostage.
That would be explosive, too.
I do know there is plenty of smoke. Montgomery has buzzed with rumors of the relationship for ages, and state airplane logs – I have long looked at those things – show the governor traveled with his female staff adviser often.
Where there is smoke there is fire, right? Right. You just don’t know what is burning until you find a way to see through it.
Alabama State Republican Executive Committee member Terry Dunn wrote on Facebook on September 3 that Mason’s “alleged affair with the governor led to First Lady Dianne Bentley’s divorce.” Journalist Roger Shuler, who runs the blog Legal Schnauzer, which was profiled by the New York Times in 2014, refers to Mason as Bentley’s “mistress.” He also writes “Their affair became so widely known that it diluted any moral authority the governor might have had.”
3. She Competed in Miss Alabama
She’s a married mother of three, hailing from Bentley’s stronghold in Tuscaloosa. Mason served as press secretary for Bentley’s gubernatorial campaign in 2010. During that election, he defeated Democrat Ron Sparks to win the mansion. On her Twitter page, Mason describes herself as a senior advisor to Bentley. She adds “Wife, Mom of 3. Fan of Football. Business Owner. Senior Advisor for a great Gov. Love Family, Jesus and Reese’s Cups. Not necessarily in that order.” Mason’s Twitter page is not publicly viewable.
Al.com reports that Mason grew up in Haleyville, Alabama, and went by “Becky” growing up. In 1990, she competed in the Miss Alabama Pageant. Mason then graduated from the University of Alabama in 1993 with a degree in broadcast communications. From there, she went on to work for several news stations in the state, eventually becoming anchor at Tuscaloosa’s WVUA and WDBB.
4. Her Husband Teaches Sunday School Alongside Governor Bentley
According to her Facebook page, Mason is married to former Alabama weatherman Jon Mason. The couple were married in 1996. He teaches Sunday School at the First Baptist Church Tuscaloosa, where Governor Bentley is a practicing deacon, reports Al.com. The website further reports that that the couple own an ad agency in Tuscaloosa named Caldwell Mason Marketing. Among their clients is the University of Alabama. Online records show that Jon Mason earned $91,000 working for Governor Bentley in 2014 as the director of the Office of Faith Based and Community Initiatives.” In 2011, Jon Mason’s salary was reportedly $76,000. Another of Mason’s companies, RCM Communications, is registered to their family home in Tuscaloosa. Al.com reports that RCM Communications has “no website and no Facebook page” and that Rebekah Mason is listed as their only employee.
During Bentley’s reelection campaign in 2014, RCM Communications was paid $426,978, reports Al.com.
Doing the math Alabama State Republican Executive Committee member Terry Dunn said the Mason family had earned $982,089.92 of public money during the Bentley era.
5. Bentley Said in 2011 That Non-Christians Were ‘Not His Brother’ & ‘Not His Sister’
Governor Bentley regards himself as a “family values” Republican. He’s against gay marriage and abortion. The New York Times ranked him as the 16th most conservative governor in the U.S.
In November 2014, Bentley was reelected as governor of Alabama, almost doubling the votes of his Democratic rival Parker Griffith. At his 2011 inauguration, Bentley told an audience “Anybody here today who has not accepted Jesus Christ as their savior, I’m telling you, you’re not my brother and you’re not my sister. And I want to be your brother.” Al.com reports that Mason was charged with dealing with “Bentley’s controversial ‘brothers and sisters’ comments.” As part of her response she said “He is the governor of all the people, Christians, non-Christians alike.”
Rep. Allen Farley of the Alabama House of Representatives has filed paperwork to investigate whether or not Bentley “used state funds to cover up actions that led to the divorce.”