In November of last year, Governor Bentley and Rebekah Mason, two staffers and several security officers boarded the state’s private jet and flew to Las Vegas.
Bentley attended the Republican Governors Conference and discussed Medicaid issues and the Syrian refugee crisis. But he also had some fun, going to a Celine Dion concert at Caesar’s Palace with Mason and the two other staff members. They even meet the entertainer back stage.
Bentley paid for the show, but taxpayers fronted the cost of the trip and private plane travel to and from.That amounted to $11,640.
No problem according to the Governor office, saying in a statement today, “RGA reimbursed the Governor’s campaign account which then reimbursed the state for use of the state airplane to transport the Governor and his staff to the conference.”
The event was in November. RGA won’t say when Bentley requested reimbursement, but confirmed payment to the Bentley campaign on March 17th. On March 25th, the Bentley campaign reimbursed the state.
That was more than four months after the event and two days after the scandal broke in Montgomery.
Former ALEA Director Spencer Collier leveled the allegation that the Governor had a sexual relationship with Mason. In a published report, he claims Bentley wanted to use the Las Vegas trip to spend time with Mason and tried to get him to reduce or eliminate security during the trip.
As for why the governor used a state plane rather than fly commercial at a huge cost reduction the Governor’s office said this today: “RGA reimbursed the state for the use of the aircraft. There was no need to fly commercial. It is also an issue of security for the Governor.”
An RGA spokesperson did not respond to questions about whether the Republican Governors Association or its political action committee paid for Bentley’s trip. If it were the PAC, that could be a violation of campaign finance laws.