Ex-Alabama Gov. Bentley settles fired official's lawsuit

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MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — Former Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley, who resigned amid a scandal, has reached a settlement agreement to end a wrongful dismissal lawsuit filed by his one-time law enforcement secretary who had publicly accused the governor of having an affair with an aide, lawyers confirmed Thursday.

Former Law Enforcement Secretary Spencer Collier sued Bentley in 2016 arguing the governor wrongfully fired him and then tried to discredit him with statements and a sham state investigation accusing him of misusing office resources.

Lawyers for Collier and Bentley both confirmed the settlement agreement Thursday. Kenny Mendelsohn, an attorney for Collier, said the terms are confidential.

Collier said Thursday that he considered the settlement "another sign of vindication," along with a previous review by the attorney general's office that found he did nothing wrong.

"I think the people of Alabama understand what the settlement means and it speaks volumes," Collier said.

Bentley attorney John Neiman confirmed a settlement was reached, but said it was not an admission of wrongdoing or liability by the former governor.

"My clients continue to deny the allegations against them," said Neiman, who represents others sued by Collier.

A day after being fired, Collier publicly accused Bentley of having an inappropriate relationship with an aide. The scandal later engulfed Bentley who resigned and pleaded to misdemeanor campaign finance charges. Bentley acknowledged making personal mistakes, but denied having a sexual affair.

Collier and Bentley were friends when they served together in the Alabama House of Representatives. Bentley appointed Collier, a former state trooper as his law enforcement chief, after winning the governor's office. Collier served in the Bentley administration until he was dismissed by Bentley.

"I am ready to put the whole Bentley episode behind me," Collier said. He apologized for having asked anyone to vote for Bentley.

Collier said he plans to run for public office again and is considering a bid for Congress.

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