The first letter, to Alabama Power, was sent on Oct. 3, 2013. I’ve removed a number of the introductory paragraphs for the sake of sparing you the boredom of reading them.
Attn: Michael Sznajderman
Media Relations Coordinator
Alabama Power/The Southern Company
I am working on a project involving work by various people, companies and non-profits to discredit individuals and groups who advocate positions detrimental to Alabama Power and other Southern Company businesses, including Mississippi Power.
First, a brief explanation as to the nature of my project……
I may have additional questions as this ongoing project progresses, but for now, they are:
1. Joe Perkins (for future reference, Perkins will be defined as Perkins and also Matrix LLC, Perkins Communications and/or employees of those firms) has a longstanding business relationship with Alabama Power (again, as defined above) to provide various services that political relations/consulting services. If you dispute this, please explain.
2. If the above described relationship has ceased, when did it cease?
3. Neither Perkins, nor, to my understanding, Alabama Power, discloses to the Ethics Commission that Perkins or anyone with Matrix performs services under the definition of lobbyist.
4.Would the following thus be accurate: Alabama Power is not aware of any communications by Joe Perkins nor anyone with Matrix with members of the Alabama legislature or governor’s office regarding any business or legislation related to Alabama Power.
And: Neither Joe Perkins nor anyone with Matrix is authorized by Alabama Power to engage in lobbying on matters related to Alabama Power.
5. In 1999, Alabama Power paid Perkins Communications some $900,000. I realize that Alabama Power no longer must disclose the identities of those who provide such services.
Would Alabama Power be willing to disclose how much it has paid Perkins in subsequent years?
6. Has Alabama Power, such as through its government affairs employees or others it engages, including lawyers, lobbyists and consultants, participated in the effort to portray PSC Commissioner Terry Dunn as an environmentalist?
7. Has Alabama Power participated in any efforts to recruit people to run against Terry Dunn?
8. Has Alabama Power participated in meetings and/or strategy sessions with Lance Brown or Patrick Cagle, or individuals working with or for PACE or JobKeeper Alliance?
9. In both 2009 and 2010, PACE paid Charles Steele more than $100,000. It may be that PACE continues to pay him but that the sum is less than the $100,000 threshold for reporting such contracts. Did Alabama Power play any role in the decision by PACE to engage Steele?
10. Steele, as you are surely aware, has appeared in many public forums and has strongly supported positions favorable to Alabama Power.
Has Alabama Power worked with or discussed with Steele his public statements, writings and other efforts on behalf of Alabama Power?
Also, has Alabama Power ever discuss with Steele his financial arrangement with PACE?
Did Alabama Power have any role whatsoever in the negotiations that led to paying Steele or any discussions with Steele or PACE or Lance Brown or Matrix regarding the payments by PACE to Steele?
11. Did Alabama Power have any role in the creation of PACE or JobKeeper?
12. Has Alabama Power, directly or indirectly, arranged funding for PACE or JobKeeper or been involved in discussions with any individuals or entities regarding their donations/contributinos to either PACE or JobKeeper?
13. Has Alabama Power consulted or discussed with Patrick Cagle the advertising and public relations campaign in Mississippi against Bigger Pie Forum?
14. In 2012, officials with Alabama Power — including employees of the specific company — participated in negotiations with Mississippi union officials that led to, among other things, an agreement for Mississippi Power to use workers with the union at some of its projects.
Does Alabama Power deny that Joe Perkins participated in those negotiations?
15. Did Alabama Power have any role or foreknowledge of a protest outside the July PSC meeting regarding Alabama Power, and in which about 10 people wearing white masks held posters that, among other things, praised Terry Dunn?
Please tell me everything Alabama Power knows about the above described protest?
16. Did Alabama Power or anyone acting on its behalf help effectuate an arrangement by which someone with a camera and declaring that they worked for the Birmingham Times attended the above-described meeting and filmed it and interviewed people who went there.
17. Does Alabama Power contribute, either financially or with services including ghost-writing to the Yellowhammer News?
18. Why did Alabama Power fight the effort by Terry Dunn to hold the sort of rate hearings that are common in other states? What does Alabama Power fear from such hearings?
19. Would Alabama Power be willing to go along with a decision by the PSC to lower its Rate of Return to 12 percent or less? If not, why not?
20. If Alabama Power’s rate of return was 12 percent — higher than the national average — would that lead to lower power bills for the company’s customers?
I look forward to your response.
Sznajderman, who I know and respect, sent this response a week later:
Hi Eddie. Sorry it took a little time to respond. Because of the malicious and untruthful statements you have made publicly about our company and our employees, we will not engage in any further dialogue with you.
Here is my letter to Matrix LLC and three of its officers — Joe Perkins, Jeff Pitts, and Josh Whitman. I’ve dispensed of the introduction.
1. Neither Perkins, nor, to my understanding, Alabama Power, discloses to the Ethics Commission that Perkins or anyone with Matrix performs services under the definition of lobbyist.
Would the following thus be accurate?
You/Perkins do not communicate with members of the Alabama legislature or governor’s office regarding any business or legislation related to Alabama Power.
2. Has Matrix participated in the effort to portray PSC Commissioner Terry Dunn as an environmentalist?
3. Has Matrix participated in meetings and/or strategy sessions with Lance Brown or Patrick Cagle, or individuals working with or for PACE or JobKeeper Alliance, and related to:
— Matters before the Alabama Public Service Commission?
— Terry Dunn?
— Bigger Pie Forum?(A Mississippi Group)
4. Has Matrix participated in meetings with Charles Steele or discussed Alabama Power-related matters with Steele?
5. Why was Matrix employing/paying the salary of Lance Brown at the time that Brown was actively serving as the head of PACE?
6. If this is incorrect, please say so, and explain how it is incorrect: Matrix was paying Lance Brown for his time and services as the head of PACE.
7. Did Perkins/Matrix have any role in the creation of PACE or JobKeeper Alliance?
8. Has Alabama Power consulted or discussed with Patrick Cagle the advertising and public relations campaign in Mississippi against Bigger Pie Forum?
9. In 2012, officials with Alabama Power — including employees of the specific company — participated in negotiations with Mississippi union officials that led to, among other things, an agreement for Mississippi Power to use workers with the union at some of its projects.
10. Do you deny that you participated in those negotiations with officials from Mississippi Power, Alabama Power and Ben Stone of Balch Bingham?
11. Why did you attend the press conference in December 2012 in which the Mississippi union officials announced their agreement with Mississippi Power?
12. Do you deny that Matrix participated in arranging for about 10 people to appear outside the Public Service Commission meeting in July and related to Alabama Power?
13. Did Matrix participate in the creation of that video or a video called, “Behind the Mask,” that was for a time on the web-site of the Alabama Coal Association?
14. Did Matrix play any role in the decision, last week, for Cameron Cardwell and Gale Force Productions to remove some 80 videos from Cardwell’s Vimeo web-site?
15. Do you deny officiating at Brown’s wedding?
16. Do you/Matrix deny participating in the creation of videos for or used by:
— JobKeeper Alliance?
— Generation America?
— The Alabama Coal Association?
— Alabama Power?
— Yellowhammer News?
17. Do you/Matrix deny participating in the creation of videos and other media product related to Terry Dunn?
18. Same question, for David Rountree?
19. Has Matrix participated in any meetings with PSC President Twinkle Cavanaugh?
20. Does Matrix deny that Lance Brown sometimes comes to Matrix’s office on Perry Street to work, and that he sometimes participates in meetings there?
21. Can you explain why the head of PACE would participate in meetings at Matrix, or come to your office?
22. Can you explain why the head of PACE would work on political campaigns in which Matrix is the political consultant?
23. Can you explain why a Matrix employee, Josh Veazey, did PACE-related work while an employee of Matrix, including ghost-writing a letter to the Mobile newspaper credited to Lance Brown and PACE?
24. Can you explain why Lance Brown acted in ads produced by Matrix well after he became head of PACE?
25. Do you/Matrix deny that Matrix has produced media-type work for JobKeeper Alliance?
26. Do you/Matrix deny that Matrix has produced media-type work for PACE?
27. Do you deny participating in the effort to paint Terry Dunn as an environmentalist, and, as part of that effort, using a photo taken in Oregon of Nelson Brooke?
28. Do you deny that Matrix decided to make this photo of Dunn the focal point of a public relations campaign against Dunn, including its use in, “Behind the Mask?”
I look forward to your responses. I will publish them, along with my questions, on my web-site and possibly in other forums.
(I did not receive a response. I will note that I can prove some of the above, but not all. That’s why I sent the questions.)