A Touching Story: How love of Alabama Power brought together the Civil Rights leader and the Obama hater

At left, Charles Steele, chairman of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. At right, Jim Martin, Obama-hating head of the self-proclaimed conservative seniors organization, 60 Plus.  About the only thing these two have in common is their undying support and interesting relationships with Alabama Power.

By Eddie Curran

The photo above belongs in the believe it or not category. It was taken Aug. 26, a the Capital Hilton in Washington, D.C., site of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference’s Legacy and Leadership Gala.

The event was held to honor the 50th Anniversary of the March on Washington, which the SCLC helped organize. That’s when SCLC co-founder Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. gave his “I Have a Dream” speech.

I came across the image during a Google search as part of research for a story on Jim Martin. No, my eyes weren’t lying: It was Jim Martin with Charles Steele. The Obama-hating Martin was not just posing with Steele, but had been asked to speak at the SCLC gala.

It’s hard to imagine a more unlikely choice for a speaker before the Southern Christian Leadership Conference than Martin.

He’s the president and founder of 60 Plus. It’s a small, little-known organization that defines itself largely by its relentless attacks on President Obama, Obamacare, and Democrats. Regardless of the issue, Martin’s pronouncements — the advertisements and op-eds, the declarations on the 60 Plus web-site — all have one thing in common. They savage the president that the SCLC adores.

Martin on Obama, from 60 Plus’s website.

Steele, a former state senator from Tuscaloosa, is the current head of the Atlanta-based SCLC. He is also, as is detailed elsewhere on this site, almost certainly a paid shill for Alabama Power. The non-profit PACE — operated by Matrix LLC, a political consulting firm that works for Alabama Power — paid Steele more than $100,000 in 2009 and 2010 and is in probably still paying him. Martin and 60 Plus (go here for that story) are also, I feel certain, secretly serving Alabama Power.

In 2012, the SCLC celebrated Obama’s re-election. Said Steele at the time: “We will proudly celebrate our 44th President of the United States and the work of the ‘People’ who made this election possible. Our slate of events will honor not only the Inauguration of the President of the United States but the legacy of our Founding President, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.”

How else to explain why the SCLC  would invite Jim Martin to address such an important event? How would they even know each other?

Alabama Power. That’s the common denominator, and the only one.

About 60 Plus

60 Plus was founded by Martin in 1992. According to its web-site,  it’s a “a non-partisan seniors advocacy group with a free enterprise, less government, less taxes approach to seniors issues (which has) set ending the federal estate tax and saving Social Security for the young as its top priorities.”

The non-profit has about four employees, including Martin. Pat Boone serves as its spokesperson, such as in some media produced by the non-profit.

It claims to have 2 million members, including 80,000 in Alabama. My guess is that those numbers reflect, not members, but people on mailing lists purchased by 60 Plus.

Certainly, though, 60 Plus’s budget has soared in recent years. This has been due, as records show, to millions of dollars in donations by groups funded by the conservative Koch brothers.

According to news reports, in 2010 60 Plus received some $11.6 million in Koch-associated funds. It spent the money on ads targeting Democratic members of Congress throughout the country.