- Associated Press - Thursday, October 6, 2016

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) - An internal report sharply criticizes the performance of the former head of the Alabama Law Enforcement AgencySpencer Collier, but his attorney has called the report “a sham” that was done to discredit Collier for his role in helping launch an impeachment probe against Gov. Robert Bentley.

Bentley included the 63-page report in his filing with an impeachment committee last week and also provided copies to the news media, including The Associated Press, in response to a public records request. The report quotes agency employees as saying Collier was seldom in the office and went outside normal purchasing procedures to buy guns and clothes with state money. They also raised questions about his hiring and management decisions.

The report was part of 1,500 pages of material turned over to the House Judiciary Committee in the impeachment probe, which had asked for information about Collier’s dismissal by Bentley as part of wide-ranging document request.

The report quoted ALEA employees as saying Collier, who had injured his back in a car accident, would not be seen in the office for long periods of time. A review of entry records show that Collier’s key card was used to gain access to ALEA’s headquarters just 20 days in the six months before he was placed on medical leave shortly before his termination, the report said.

Attorney Kenny Mendelsohn said Thursday that the report is aimed at discrediting Collier, whom Bentley fired on March 22, citing an internal review that found a possible misuse of state funds. The next day, Collier held a press conference accusing Bentley of having an affair with an adviser.

Mendelsohn called the document “a sham” and an “attempt to come up with something to support why he should have been fired, after he was fired.”

“This was trumped up to disparage Spencer,” Mendelsohn said. “The truth of it is Bentley blames Spencer for all of his downfall.”

The report describes an investigator’s summary of interviews with some agency employees between Feb. 29 and Aug. 31. The interviews began shortly after Bentley placed Collier on medical leave in February. Then-Acting Secretary Stan Stabler asked for the probe to “investigate allegations of violations of ALEA policies and procedures by ALEA Secretary Spencer Collier,” according to the report.

The investigator did not interview Collier.

Mendelsohn acknowledged Collier was not in the office in a period leading up to a back surgery, but was always available by phone or text.

“His job was 24-7,” Mendelsohn said.

The report also questioned Collier’s spending on guns, weapons and other items. Collier had received an $850 yearly clothing allowance as a law enforcement official, which was used to buy dress clothes, according to invoices. Collier also used state funds to buy polo shirts for with the ALEA logo at a uniform store, outdoor gear such as a $629 jacket and sunglasses.

The report quotes ALEA accounting director saying that Collier skirted the normal purchasing procedures for guns, and would purchase items without a purchase order with ALEA money.

All of the items were for use on the job by Collier or others and not for Collier’s personal use, Mendelsohn said. “He’s got to have shirts and he’s got to have field stuff … It’s not personal clothes,” Mendelsohn said.

The report also said Collier’s ID number was used to buy gasoline with state dollars after the governor placed him on medical leave in February, and as part of the internal probe, investigators tried to obtain security camera footage from those gas stations.

Bentley and Collier served together in the Alabama House of Representatives. Bentley appointed Collier to the law enforcement job after his election as governor. The relationship began to sour at some point.

A request from a state prosecutor, who had asked Collier for a sworn statement regarding the investigation of a former House speaker, became a bone of contention. Collier was willing to provide the statement, but Bentley told him not to.

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