Questions sent to PACE and JobKeeper Alliance

This image is from  a video by the jobKeeper Alliance.

 As noted elsewhere on the site, and in the letter, I was initially retained by a Mississippi group concerned about critical advertising and other media by JobKeeper and the Partnership for Affordable Clean Energy, or, PACE. I subsequently chose not to bill or accept payment from the group and to do this as a purely journalistic enterprise.

Here are the letters I sent in late September to PACE and JobKeeper. First, the letter to PACE and its director and only employee, Lance Brown.

 Note: I had spoken to Brown briefly on the telephone prior to sending these questions. The questions were sent on Sept. 27. The letter began with a brief introduction, and then:

      

As I believe you are aware, positions taken by PACE, both in Mississippi and Alabama, are, to say the least, supportive of Mississippi Power and Alabama Power.

As I believe you also are aware, Joe Perkins, such as through Matrix and Perkins Communications, has a longstanding business relationship with Alabama Power to provide various political relations/consulting services. 

My questions are:

 

1. PACE’s tax returns for 2009 and 2010 reflect that you were not paid by PACE in either of those two years, or, for that matter, that PACE had any employees who were paid. If you dispute this, please explain.

 

2. Court filings in your divorce show that in August 2009 — and certainly for some period after that — you were an employee of PACE, with a salary of about $100,000. If you dispute this, please explain. Also, can you state when you ceased working full time for Matrix and started drawing a paycheck from PACE.

 

3. When I asked you if you had worked for the Matrix Group you said you did not know what the Matrix Group was. When I said Matrix, you acknowledged that you had worked for Matrix. You said you left Matrix in 2006. I asked you if you were certain and you answered emphatically that you had definitely left Matrix in 2006. If you dispute this, please explain.

4. PACE’s 990s state that it’s physical address is 407 S. McDonough. That building was purchased by members of Matrix in 2003 (Jeff Pitts, Nick Sellers and others). It was sold to a company incorporated by Josh Whitman, who has long worked for Matrix and is now its president or in any event a top officer.

 

Did PACE ever have an actual office there, as in, an office devoted solely to PACE? For example, I know that Paul Hamrick had the office in question until at least 2010, and that he was at the time (according to FEC records), then employed with Matrix.

 

I went to 407 S. McDonough to go to PACE’s office (as listed on 990s) and to hopefully review PACE’s most recent 990. I was told you/PACE were no longer there. When I called you, and asked me where your office was, you stated that it was at 407 S. McDonough. You stated that PACE no longer has a need for an office. As such, it appears that PACE has no office, and its telephone is your cell phone. If you dispute any of this, please explain.

 

I subsequently went to Matrix and asked for you. The receptionist told me that you did not have an office there but worked out of there sometimes. I asked if you ever conducted meetings there. She said that you did. If you dispute any of this, please explain.

 

Also on PACE’s board, since its inception, is Ronda Walker. In February, Walker was recently appointed to the Montgomery County Commission by Gov. Bentley to fill a vacancy on the commission. 

 

5. PACE’s web-site has movie called UnPlugged. I watched it and saw that a Josh Veazey was an associate producer. I did an Internet search for him and found that he has a web-site. It showed that he was an employee during 2009 for PACE (however, I see no evidence of PACE having any paid employees in 2009).

 

His web-site contains his resume and some samples of his work. Among those samples was a letter, published in your name, to the Mobile Press-Register in March 2011. In other words, a Matrix employee “ghost-wrote” a letter published under your name in the Mobile Press Register. If you dispute this, please explain.

 

6. PACE’s 990s for 2009 and 2010 show that in each of those years PACE paid Charles Steele more than $100,000. During that first year, Steele was actually the head of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference.

Steele, as you know, has been a vocal supporter of Alabama Power and the Southern Company.

In 2009, you attended an event in Tuskegee along with Steele and Alabama Power executive Stephen Jones. At the time, you were a salaried employee of Matrix. If you dispute this, please explain.

 

7. For what services did PACE pay Steele? Has it continued to pay Steele, but for less than the $100,000 threshold? Was Steele being paid by PACE when he appeared in Unplugged? When he appeared in the PACE “funding movie”?

 

8. PACE has retained a well-known and no doubt expensive attorney, Mark White, to participate in the PSC’s review of Alabama Power’s rates and which favors Alabama Power. In his filing, White listed PACE’s address as 500 Dexter Ave. That is the home of the AEA, a Matrix client. I went there and asked if you or PACE had an office and was told you did not. I’m not sure what the explanation for this is.

 

9. Joe Perkins officiated at your second marriage. Can you describe your relationship, professional and personal, with Perkins and also, with Matrix and its affiliated companies? For example, do you/PACE have to pay Matrix and or Perkins Investments to use its offices for meetings?

 

10. Would you be willing to describe the, for lack of a better word, the “strategy sessions” involved in the plan to paint Terry Dunn as being in the thrall of environmentalists?

 

11. Would you be willing to discuss the role in those sessions of a photo, taken in Oregon, of Nelson Brooke, and how that became a starting point of sorts for the orchestrated effort against Dunn?

 

12. Would you be willing to tell me what you know about the appearance, at a July PSC meeting, of a group of people — an older woman and about 10 younger people — wearing masks and pretending to be environmentalists and supporters of Dunn? Brooke was an inspiration, if that’s the correct word, for the masks worn by the participants.

 

13. Can you describe your/PACE’s/Matrix’s roles in the documentary, “Behind the Mask,” by the Alabama Coal Association? As you are aware, Charles Steele appears in it, as does Mark White, the lawyer for PACE in the rate proceedings.

 

14. Have you done any work in political campaigns in which Matrix is involved, such as in the past couple of years?

 

15. Why, if you were no longer with Matrix, did you appear as an actor in a public service announcement called, “Help With Nutrition,” which was produced by Matrix?

 

16. Would you deny that you have participated in public relations/political strategy sessions with employees of Alabama Power?

 

17. PACE, Matrix and Alabama Power, as well as other groups that have appeared essentially on Alabama Power’s behalf at the PSC — including JobKeepers, 60-Plus and Generation America — all use Gale Force Productions. Could you describe the relationship between Gale Force, Matrix, and PACE?

 

I look forward to your responses. I will publish them, along with my questions, on the web-site.

Long-time union leader Stewart Burkhalter has served on the boards of PACE and JobKeeper Alliance, and is a long-time friend of Matrix founder Joe Perkins. 

This was sent on Sept. 27.  to Patrick Cagle, as executive director and lone employee of the JobKeeper Alliance, and to George Clark, the president of Manufacture Alabama and a board member of JobKeeper. Neither responded to my questions.

Dear Patrick,

 

As I indicated during our brief conversation, I am working on a project involving work by non-profits including PACE and JobKeepers to discredit individuals and groups who advocate positions detrimental to Alabama Power and other Southern Company businesses.

 

I was retained by a group in Mississippi called the Bigger Pie Forum. As you know, it has in various forums urged the Mississippi PSC to reject Mississippi Power’s pending request to pass on additional costs at its Kemper facility to ratepayers.

 

Bigger Pie Forum has been publicly criticized and accused of various things by PACE and JobKeepers. Because I am somewhat familiar with Alabama politics and the groups are from Alabama, they asked me to look into these groups and any affiliations they might have.

 

I intend to publish my findings on a web-site, and to do so soon.

 

As I believe you are aware, positions taken by JobKeepers, both in Mississippi and Alabama, are, to say the least, supportive of Mississippi Power and Alabama Power.

 

The photo in Patrick Cagle’s right hand is of Nelson Brooke, taken at a rally against coal in Oregon. Brooke is head of an environmental group called Black Warrior Riverkeeper. One of the strategies used against Dunn has been to connect him to Brooke. That Dunn doesn’t know or have any connection to Brooke matters not at all to Patrick Cagle, his secret masters and others who’ve sought to connect Dunn to the environmentalist movement. 

My questions are:

 

1. Would you be willing to describe the, for lack of a better word, the “strategy sessions” involved in the plan to paint Terry Dunn as being in the thrall of environmentalists?

 

2. JobKeepers has used the political consulting firm Matrix to produce some of its media. Examples include a slide type presentation called, “Attack of the Environmental Extremists.” The document properties show that the “author” of that presentation was Jeff Pitts, who as you know is an officer of the political consulting firm, Matrix LLC.

 

And last year, JobKeepers paid for a robocall criticizing environmentalists for blocking the Northern Beltline. The robocall, titled, “Northern Beltline 60,” was created by Matrix.

 

Gale Force Productions has produced videos for JobKeepers. It has also done so for PACE (with whom you share a board member, Stewart Burkhalter), 60-Plus, Generation America, the Alabama Coal Association, and Alabama Power, along with other Matrix clients.

 

Additionally, the incorporation papers for JobKeepers were drafted by a former member of Matrix, Thomas Kirkland.

 

Can you describe your/JobKeepers relationship with Matrix?

 

With Alabama Power and people in its government relations arm?

 

3. How did you happen to be chosen to be head of JobKeepers upon its creation?
Was your father’s long-time position as Alabama Power’s head of security a factor in that choice?

 

4. If the Alabama Public Service Commissioner were to lower Alabama Power’s rate of return to 11 or 12 percent, would that lower the bills of Alabama residents and small businesses?

 

Is it JobKeeper’s position that the PSC should not lower Alabama Power’s rate of return? If so, why not?

 

Wouldn’t “regular people” such as those JobKeepers described in its video attacking Terry Dunn pay less for power if the rate of return was reduced?

 

Why did JobKeeper become involved in the situation in Mississippi regarding Mississippi Power’s Kemper plant?

 

11. Would you be willing to discuss the role in those sessions of a photo, taken in Oregon, of Nelson Brooke, and how that became a starting point of sorts for the orchestrated effort to portray Dunn as a radical environmentalist?

 

12. David Rountree served as chief executive assistant to former PSC President Jim Sullivan and former commissioner Susan Parker prior to being retained by Terry Dunn. Can you identify a single person, such as at the PSC, who can describe any effort by Rountree to harm the coal industry or take actions for the purpose of helping “environmentalists”?

 

13. Would you be willing to tell me what you know about the appearance, at a July PSC meeting, of a group of people — an older woman and about 10 younger people — wearing masks and pretending to be environmentalists and supporters of Dunn? Brooke was an inspiration, if that’s the correct word, for the masks worn by the participants.

 

14. Would you deny that you have participated in public relations/political strategy sessions with employees and officers of Alabama Power (including Southern Company Services and Mississippi Power), as well as for consultants working on the company’s behalf?

 

I look forward to your responses. I will publish them, along with my questions, on the web-site, whether the questions are responded to or not.

 

Sincerely,

 

Eddie Curran

 

BLAH BLAH

George Clark, president of Manufacture Alabama, addressing a group conference. He’s a founder and board member of JobKeeper Alliance.

BLAH

Charles McCrary, then president of Alabama Power, and still chairman of its board, addresses the same conference.