Morrow files ethics complaint

When Rep. Johnny Mack Morrow introduced a local bill that would allow Franklin County to arm educators in 2013, it was at first vetoed by Gov. Robert Bentley – despite a prior statement that Bentley wouldn’t veto such legislation. Morrow said he was taken aback but made requested changes to the bill and reintroduced it. When it was vetoed by the governor again – though that veto was eventually overridden by the House and Senate – Morrow said he knew something was up.

“I was very puzzled,” Morrow said. “He wasn’t the Robert Bentley I knew. I knew something was going on.”

When news broke recently of the Bentley/Rebekah Caldwell Mason scandal, and chatter began to increase about her alleged influence over Bentley – she has even been called the “de-facto governor,” – Morrow said he put two and two together.

Morrow has filed an ethics complaint against Mason, stating that although she is not registered as a lobbyist, she indeed lobbied against his legislation – a vindictive move springing out of a grudge she has held against him for years.

“Recent events and statements by several individuals have made it clear that Rebekah Caldwell Mason is an extremely vindictive, manipulative person and at that time was functioning as the de-facto governor,” Morrow writes in his statement. “Her romantic ties with the Governor were now controlling his every action.”

Morrow explained that, during his time as an economics instructor at Northwest Community College, from 1970-1998, “Rebekah Caldwell Mason was a student in my Economics class. Since her arrival in Montgomery as

Governor Bentley’s advisor, she has let it be known that she was in my class and was very unhappy with

the grade she earned in my class. She spoke very unkindly of me as her college instructor. She was a

student in my class 25 years ago yet harbored harsh feelings towards me personally after all these

years.”

“It was hard for me to visualize someone who held a grudge for that long,” Morrow said, and yet he feels certain he has made an accurate connection.

In his complaint, Morrow states, “because of Rebekah Caldwell Mason’s romantic relationship with the Governor, my bill almost fell victim to her lobbying efforts. She almost succeeded in undoing the hard work of my police chiefs, my sheriff, my superintendents and my principals in Franklin County.

“I do understand that she was not required to register with the Ethics Commission as an advisor to the Governor. What she did to the people of Franklin County was not advising but very strong lobbying to kill HB116 and then HB404. Her vindictiveness was controlling her actions as she finally got even with her Economics instructor 25 years later.

“Individuals who lobby legislation are required to register as lobbyists. She lobbied against my bills and was not registered. This is my complaint. Had I known that the Governor was being lobbied from inside his office, my strategy would have been totally different.

“I am told that this is the only bill in the history of the Alabama Legislature that has been vetoed twice in the same legislative session and still became law.”

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