MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) - Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley’s former political adviser has asked a judge to pause a defamation lawsuit filed by the governor’s one-time body guard because of what her attorneys described as ongoing criminal and ethics probes.
In a Wednesday court filing, lawyers for Rebekah Mason asked a judge to dismiss the lawsuit - arguing the claims were meritless - or at least stay proceedings because of the ongoing investigations.
“First and most importantly, Mrs. Mason denies each and every allegation of the complaint and contends that she has done nothing wrong, either civilly or criminally,” her attorneys wrote.
The court filling cited news stories about complaints filed to the Alabama Ethics Commission and potential investigations by state and federal prosecutors. Her attorneys said Mason does not know the status or scope of the investigations, but the subjects are thought to overlap with the civil case and she would risk potential self-incrimination.
Ray Lewis sued Bentley and Mason last month, saying his career and reputation were damaged as they tried to hide a relationship. Lewis, who often traveled with the governor, said he was ostracized and eventually forced out of his job after pushing the governor and Mason to end their affair and warning Bentley about using state planes and cars to transport Mason. Bentley admitted making personal mistakes but denied having a sexual affair.
Attorney Bobby Segall submitted an affidavit saying that he represented Mason in potential criminal matters and that the civil lawsuit included matters “that are believed to be under criminal investigation by the Department of Justice, Alabama Ethics Commission, and/or the Alabama Attorney General’s Office.”
Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange last month asked a legislative committee to stop an impeachment investigation while his office pursued “related work.” Although an attorney for the governor said at the time that he was “aware of no investigation by the Attorney General into the Governor or any personnel in the office of the governor.”
A lawyer for former law enforcement chief Spencer Collier, who first accused Bentley of having an affair, told The Associated Press in May that Collier had been questioned by federal investigators about the governor’s administration.
A judge this summer stayed a separate civil lawsuit by Collier against Bentley and Mason after Mason raised similar concerns about the civil litigation overlapping with potential criminal probes.
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