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Dauphin Island Sea Lab Receives $500k Grant, Zeigler Criticizes Gov. Bentley's Spending

Dauphin Island Sea Lab
Estuarium at Dauphin Island Sea Lab

The Dauphin Island Sea Lab is a half million dollars richer today thanks to the U.S. Department of Justice.

WKRG-TV reports the Sea Lab received the $500,000 check as the result of an investigation that found a Norweigan shipping company guilty of dumping oil and sludge into the Gulf of Mexico.

The settlement reached totaled $2.5 million. As part of the settlement, half a million dollars had to go to a community organization as restitution. The Department of Justice chose the Dauphin Island Sea Lab due to their commitment to stewardship of the Gulf of Mexico.

Dauphin Island Sea Lab Foundation Executive Director Helene Hassell says the windfall will allow the sea lab to take part in some exciting special projects. The foundation is currently fielding ideas for projects and research to be funded by the grant.

State Auditor Jim Zeigler wants to join a lawsuit to stop Governor Robert Bentley from spending BP settlement money.

The state is receiving billions of dollars from BP in a settlement from the lawsuit after the Gulf oil spill in 2010.

Zeigler says instead of helping the people of Alabama, the governor is using the funds for what he calls “pet projects…”

‘The governor has appropriated $1.8 million of BP money to restore the governor’s mansion at the beach, which has been in dilapidated shape for 17 years. He did this right after he lost his personal beach home in his divorce.”

Zeigler says the State Auditor has legal standing to challenge the Governor's spending. The suit is in Montgomery County Circuit Court.

Governor Robert Bentley's nonprofit group wants out of a wrongful termination lawsuit filed by the governor's former law enforcement secretary. APR’s Stan Ingold has more.

The Alabama Council for Excellent Government has filed a motion seeking to be dismissed as a defendant in the civil case.

Former Law Enforcement Secretary Spencer Collier filed a lawsuit against Bentley and his former political adviser Rebekah Mason accusing them of defamation and orchestrating his dismissal. The lawsuit also named the nonprofit group, which paid Mason, as a defendant. A lawyer for the group says there was no accusation against the nonprofit so it should be dismissed from the case.

Collier accused Bentley of having an affair with Mason. The governor admitted to inappropriate conversations but denied a sexual affair. Bentley has also asked to have the case dismissed.

A death row inmate in Alabama is set to receive a reduced sentence after his attorneys successfully argued that a black woman was wrongfully excluded from a jury during the inmate's trial more than 20 years ago.

The Montgomery Advertiser reports the 1991 killing of 69-year-old Clarene Haskey will be reopened this afternoon in a Monroe County courtroom. Steven Hall is scheduled to plead guilty to the murder and receive a reduced sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole.

More than 20 years after the conclusion of the 1994 trial, U.S. District Judge Callie Granade says prosecutors deliberately excluded black potential juror Minnie Lett because of her race. Prosecutors used nine of their 14 strikes against black potential jury members.

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