- Associated Press - Wednesday, April 13, 2016

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) - The head of the Alabama law enforcement agency on Wednesday confirmed that a state aircraft was used in 2014 to deliver Gov. Robert Bentley’s forgotten wallet to him at the beach but said that Bentley did not request the air delivery method.

Alabama Law Enforcement Secretary Stan Stabler issued the statement in response to reports that state resources were used to deliver the governor’s wallet.

“Gov. Bentley did not request a specific method be used to relay his wallet from Tuscaloosa to Fort Morgan - the decision to utilize department equipment to facilitate the request was made through ALEA’s chain of command, using standard agency protocol,” Stabler said.

Stabler, in defending the move, said it is the job of the dignitary protection unit, which serves as security detail for certain elected officials, to, “protect and safeguard its protectees and provide assistance to ensure protectees are fully prepared to perform their duties as constitutional officers.”

“Often, items are relayed to protectees - whether it be files, a briefcase, medicine, etc.,” Stabler said.

Stabler said his predecessor, Spencer Collier, approved the decision, but Collier disputed that Wednesday.

Stabler said that in December 2014, he received notification from Bentley that he had traveled to his beach house in Fort Morgan and inadvertently left his wallet in Tuscaloosa. Stabler said he contacted his chain of command and ultimately received approval from Collier, “to utilize ALEA’s aviation unit to pick-up and deliver the wallet to the governor.”

Collier, who was fired by Bentley last month, said he didn’t know about the wallet and never authorized aviation resources to retrieve it.

“I’ve never authorized a flight for a wallet,” Collier said in a brief telephone interview Wednesday. Collier said Stabler and Bentley went around him to authorize the flight.

It is true, Collier said, that the dignitary protection unit will sometimes help retrieve needed items for the state officials they protect, but he said that is usually done by troopers traveling in cars. “I’ve never heard of aviation being used, outside of an emergency, to do relays,” Collier said.

The disagreement over who authorized the wallet retrieval is the latest back-and-forth between Bentley’s administration and Collier, who for years was the governor’s friend and appointee.

Collier last month accused Bentley of having an affair with a high-ranking staff member. Bentley denied that he had a “physical affair” but admitted making inappropriate remarks to the woman.


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