The Offer Kathy Peterson Refused: $6,000 a month, and drop out race against PSC’s Oden

Former Paul Finebaum sidekick turned media consultant Bob Lochamy urged Peterson to be co-chair of “Stand Up For Alabama Coalition,” but with one condition: That she end her challenge to Alabama Power loyalist Jeremy Oden

 

BLAH BLAH

Former presidential candidate and Tea Party favorite Herman Cain came to Alabama in 2012 to campaign for Kathy Peterson, who was running for president of the Public Service Commission. Peterson was defeated by Twinkle Cavanaugh.


“I believe Stand Up For Alabama Coalition was a bogus organization that was dreamed up solely to entice me into getting out of the public service commission race …  And, by the way, as far as I have been able to determine, Stand Up For Alabama is still not in existence today. “

Kathy Peterson, in response to question for this story

“As far as your search for any records verifying Stand Up For Alabama, I have not and will not initiate the business of the coalition until we are ready to launch… and I clarified to Kathy in our initial discussions that the people that I was counting on to help fund the coalition were not going to be disclosed until the actual launch of the coalition.”

Birmingham area media consultant Bob Lochamy, in response to question for this story

(This story was published on May 29, 2014.)

Author Disclosure:  In April (2014), I donated $125 apiece to incumbent Place 2 Public Service Commissioner Terry Dunn and Peterson — the first campaign donations of my life. It’s been the position of this web-site that the PSC  should be governed as state law dictates — that is to say, by commissioners who favor neither ratepayers nor the utility monopolies whose prices they regulate.

The PSC is required to make decisions much as a referee makes calls in a football game — with no favor given either side. Should Dunn and Peterson win their respective June 3 primary races  — a long shot — I believe the Alabama PSC will bring Alabama Power’s astonishing profit levels closer to national norms, with resulting rate reductions. I also like to think it would have a chilling effect on Alabama Power’s use of bully tactics to control the PSC, naive as that sounds.

By EDDIE CURRAN

On Feb. 5, Kathy Peterson announced that she had filed the requisite papers and would be challenging incumbent Public Service Commissioner Jeremy Oden in the June 3 Republican primary.

Less than three weeks later, a man Peterson did not know but who was well known to many Alabamians began a 10-day courtship of meetings and e-mails. The man pleaded with her to accept a $6,000 a month position as his co-chair of a new conservative organization to be called, “Stand Up For Alabama Coalition.”

He urged Peterson to become what he called in one e-mail his “loyal and passionate ‘partner’ in this great opportunity and tremendous challenge to motivate, encourage and inspire our fellow citizens to ‘stand up’ to protect our state and our country, starting first at home in our state’s cities and counties… “

The man was Bob Lochamy, for years the sidekick to Paul Finebaum on the latter’s wildly popular sports radio call-in show. Lochamy is still in radio, and also runs a small media relations company, Lochamy & Associates, that serves private and political clients.

 

Bob Lochamy, on the radio.

Bob Lochamy, on the radio.

 

On May 24, the Associated Press published a story by Phil Rawls previewing the Oden-Peterson race. Rawls noted, among other things, the enormous advantage in campaign funds enjoyed by Oden over Peterson. Then, midway through the story, the following:

         She (Peterson) released emails showing that Birmingham media consultant Bob Lochamy offered her a $6,000-a-month job with an advocacy group he was planning to start called the Stand Up for Alabama Coalition, but the one condition was she had to drop out of the PSC race.

        “If they can buy this office, then they can continue to buy it from now on,” she said.

        “It’s pretty paranoid to say something like that,” Lochamy said.

        He said he made a legitimate offer for a job that would last two or three years, and it made no sense for Peterson to be the full-time spokeswoman for the group if she were also running for public office.

(You can read Rawls’ entire story HERE.)

I was flabbergasted. In a race this important — with the future of the PSC hanging in the balance — a sudden job offer to a candidate conditioned upon her dropping out of the race?

Lochamy could say that Peterson’s had to be “pretty paranoid,” to see it that way, but from the few facts presented in the AP story, her view seemed reasonable.

 

It's time for Bob Lochamy to stand up and come clean about the Stand Up For Alabama Coalition. Is that asking too much?

Bob Lochamy, possible future co-chairman of the Stand Up for Alabama Coalition.

I contacted Peterson to ask if she would provide me with the e-mail correspondence between herself and Lochamy. She forwarded the e-mails, along with a timeline of events that appeared consistent with the e-mails. Lochamy doesn’t deny sending the e-mails.

Courting Kathy Peterson

Lochamy first made contact with Peterson on Feb. 24. He told her he was forming an organization to spread conservatism in Alabama and was looking for a female co-chair. Numerous people had recommended Kathy for the position, Lochamy said. They agreed to meet two days later later at The Egg & I, a restaurant in Hoover.

The next day — and before that first meeting — Lochamy sent Peterson an e-mail telling her how much he’d enjoyed talking to her the day before. He attached what he called the mission statement of the conservative organization, called, “Stand Up for Alabama Coalition.”

Here is the mission statement, in its entirety:

      Stand Up For Alabama Coalition

      Our valued rights and freedoms are under attack

      Stand Up For Alabama Coalition is a coalition of concerned conservative citizens and their families, organizations, and freedom-loving “‘patriots” who are sick and tired of seeing our state and nation be threatened by liberal extremists.

      Alabama is a conservative God-fearing state.  We cherish our freedoms and the protections that are provided by the United States Constitution.  Whether it is to be able to worship God, own our guns, speak our minds, protect our families, or make sure that Alabama school children are taught the values we hold dear, we can no longer stand by quietly, and let the protection of our rights be eroded and taken away.

      Stand Up For Alabama Coalition will stand up for and fight for;

      All rights that were established and provided by our Founding Fathers

      Keeping God in our homes, schools and, yes in our churches

      Protecting the right to keep and bear arms

      Opposing federal intervention in our schools with extreme liberal mandates

      Ending judicial activism

      Protecting the tradition and covenant of marriage being between a man and a woman

      Stand Up For Alabama Coalition will be meeting with like-minded individuals and organizations around the state, speaking to citizens groups and youth organizations, and holding news conferences to advocate for the freedoms we hold dear.

      Stand Up For Alabama Coalition is not and will not become a lobby organization.  We are a “bully pulpit” for our fellow citizens and their families who are tired of the way liberal special interest groups and their lobbyists are destroying our nation and our state

      For information contact Bob Lochamy, Co-Chairman of the Stand Up For Alabama Coalition.  The coalition will be expanding it’s leadership, staff, and membership in the coming days and will be please to speak to your group or discuss ways we can work together with you to protect our valued rights and freedoms.

      Bob Lochamy, Co-Chair, Stand Up For Alabama Coalition

Kathy Peterson is well-known as a Tea Party activist. The mission statement could be viewed as having been tailored to match her politics.

 

 

PSC President Twinkle Cavanaugh and Jeremy Oden.

Alabama Power’s Dynamic Duo: PSC President Twinkle Cavanaugh and Jeremy Oden. If Oden defeats Peterson, Alabama Power will be assured of retaining control over the PSC, regardless of whether Terry Dunn wins of loses, as Cavanaugh has two more years left in her term.

 

The next day, Lochamy met with the Peterson’s for a long breakfast. He went into detail about his proposal. Near meeting’s end, according to Peterson, Lochamy told her he thought that it would be too much for her to handle, both working with Stand Up For Alabama Coalition and running for the public service commission.

She said she told him that she had committed to run and could not break that commitment. He asked her to at least consider quitting the race.

Peterson’s husband is Dale Peterson, who is running for state auditor. Dale Peterson made quite a splash some years ago with his rifle-toting ad during his campaign for state agriculture commissioner. Kathy Peterson said that when she told her husband about the meeting, he immediately suspected it was a “set-up” designed to get her out of the race. He told her she should reject Lochamy’s offer.

Lochamy, according to Kathy Peterson and his e-mails, told her he was interviewing several candidates for the position, and he was under the gun. He had to make his final recommendation to his backers by week’s end.

Job offered — with a condition

Early the next morning, Lochamy e-mailed to tell Peterson how much he’d enjoyed meeting her.

The near zealously optimistic and friendly Lochamy told her it was “most encouraging and inspiring opportunity to meet a fellow “patriot (Webster; a person who loyally and zealously loves their country)… and I sincerely felt that we bonded in our passion to be provocative in a very positive way to stand boldly in the “bully pulpit” and to “stand up” for our fellow citizens and their families and their businesses, within our communities, our cities, counties and our state, and yes our country… and yes we could have a few more “cups of coffee” and further discussed our mutual interests and concerns… and a simply scrumptious dessert too…”

He told her that after the coalition’s work on the 2014 elections was finished, it would focus on state and national races in 2016. And then: “The last thing we need to do is stand by and let “wolves in sheep’s clothing” be elected, and we know that some candidates are going to be elected based on their rhetoric and not their true philosophy.”

After more of the same, lots more actually —  including what he called his “contemplation and consideration of  other prospective ‘lady friends’ to consider as my Co-Chair “partner.” Then he revealed his selection. He had chose her. But there was a condition. Here, as Lochamy wrote it (with emphasis in bold by me):

       Kathy, you ask me as we closed our time together yesterday if I thought that you could accept this opportunity to serve with me as the Co-Chair of “Stand Up For Alabama” and also continue to campaign against the incumbent Jeremy Oden to be elected to serve as a member of the Alabama Public Service Commission… initially I gave you a brief answer to your question… 

        after further contemplation and consideration of our opportunities to serve our fellow citizens and their families and fulfill our desire and passion to do the most that we can do and to be able to actually “stand up” and have an impact protecting the foundation of our state and our country… starting on the “home front” first, my recommendation to offer you the opportunity to serve with me as my “partner” as Co-Chair of “Stand Up For Alabama Coalition” requires that you make a full-time commitment to serve as Co-Chair of “Stand Up For Alabama Coalition” and that you discontinue your campaign to unseat Jeremy Oden’s incumbent seat on the PSC…

       we both know that with the opportunity and challenges that are before us, that the leadership demands and energies that are going to be required to be able to launch “Stand Up For Alabama Coalition” and to be able to develop a state-wide network/coalition with focus and dedication to be able to have effect and to have impact on the forces that are at work daily to erode the foundation that our Founding Father’s put in place to protect our country… and now we are faced with the opportunity and challenge to “stand up” and inform and inspire with “Stand Up For Alabama Coalition”…

       Kathy, I do hope that you can commit to focus, commit, and dedicate your passion, energies, and abilities to join me as my Co-Chair and “partner” to lead, guide and direct “Stand Up For Alabama Coalition”, which can and will have a major effect and impact on the future of our cities, counties, states, and our country…

       Kathy, like the brave passenger on the hi-jacked airliner over the Pennsylvania field on 9/11 boldly declared to his fellow citizens, “let’s roll”…

       I await your response to this verbose message, with a profound commitment to accept my offer to you be my Co-Chair and “partner”…

       Kathy, I sincerely I hope you can, as soon as possible, declare to me… a hearty “let’s roll”… I do not want to look any further for a “partner”…

and I look forward to receiving a call from you so that I can hear your bold & brave voice declare to me “let’s roll”…

       1st Chronicles 4:10

       Bob

Lochamy is still dabbling in radio, with a once a week sports talk show on "The Peach" radio station.

Lochamy is still dabbling in radio, with a once a week sports talk show on “The Peach” radio station.

Kathy Peterson’s response

On Feb. 28, Peterson e-mailed Lochamy to tell him she was “humbled” that he and “the backers” had offered her the position.  She wrote that she would “like nothing better than to make a difference this way, if at all possible.”

However, business and life experiences had taught her to be “resistant to spur of the moment decisions.” There were multiple factors she had to consider “before giving you an answer as to whether or not I will be able to roll,” she wrote, using Lochamy’s phrase.

Peterson then presented a list of issues that she felt needed to be resolved were she to accept the offer. Ask yourself, as you read this, if she’s being unreasonable:

A.      I made a commitment to the people of Alabama to challenge Place #1 for Public Service Commissioner.  I gave my word.

 

 

B.      I have, within the past year, made a very serious commitment both in time and financially to a real estate path.

 

 

C.     I do not have a definitive  understanding as to exactly what Stand Up For Alabama Coalition is or exactly where it is headed and exactly what it hopes to accomplish.

 

 

D.     There are no apparent assurances of longevity of the coalition. Will funding be around next year, or even next month?

 

 

E.     As I see it, the monetary compensation for me for this position falls far short considering the amount of work and time I perceive it would take to successfully accomplish the task.

 

 

F.      How is the compensation to be paid, by whom and in what form? Is it tax free or paid as contract laborer, or what?

 

 

G.     Travel, lodging, car, office, etc. are to be paid for how?

 

 

H.     If I am to take on this responsibility for the people for the State of Alabama and for the people who are willing to fund such a venture, then it is imperative I know for whom I am working.

 

 

I.       I do not have a grasp as to the urgency for me to drop everything that I have in my personal pipeline at this moment.  What is to be accomplished in the next 90 days that calls for such action on my part?

 

“Please also understand my concerns, as, at this point all I have is two pieces of paper and your assurance that this is a good thing,” she concluded. “Should you feel the urgency to move on, I understand and will always be grateful to you and to the backers for their consideration.”

Lochamy replied within two hours. Consistent with is approach, he ladled on the flattery. “Kathy, you make my day with the depth of your reply,” he wrote.

He said he was going to “review your reply and then be prepared to hopefully have the opportunity to again “break ‘breakfast’ bread” together tomorrow morning…”

 

 

Kathy Peterson points down -- the direction she says utility bills will go if she's elected. Peterson's ad is on YouTube, and has run some in the Dothan area. Unlike Oden, she doesn't have enough campaign money to run it statewide or with any great frequency anywhere.

Kathy Peterson points down — the direction she says utility bills will go if she’s elected. Peterson’s ad is on YouTube, and has run some in the Dothan area. Unlike Oden, she doesn’t have enough campaign money to run it statewide or with frequency anywhere.

No Deal, and, so far, no Stand Up For Alabama Coalition either

Dale Peterson joined his wife at the final meeting, on March 1. When I contacted Lochamy and asked about his e-mails and his offer to Peterson, he emphatically denied participating in any effort to get Peterson out of the race for any reason other than his sincere wish that she become his Stand Up For Alabama Coalition co-chair. He said he withdrew his job offer because of Dale Peterson’s behavior at that meeting, which he called “bizarre” and “disgusting.”

I had called Lochamy, and we ended up trading multiple e-mails. He was, I will note, most gracious and friendly in the e-mails.  In one, he asked me to provide advice to him for Stand Up For Alabama when it got off the ground. I responded that I appreciated the offer but that, truth be known, its purposes were a bit too conservative for my blood.

My problem with Lochamy’s responses — and I told him this — was that he repeatedly blamed Dale Peterson. Dale Peterson, as a result of the rifle ad and some other issues, is an easy target. And Kathy Peterson disputed Lochamy’s characterizations of her husband’s behavior. She said that Lochamy was “giddy” during the second meeting and that her husband “quizzed Lochamy repeatedly” about financial issues related to the job offer.

 

Lochamy Likes Oden

One of the “Likes” on Lochamy’s Facebook page.

 

I told Lochamy that, rather than get into a he said/she said situation, I’d stick as close as possible to the e-mails.

Three days after the second meeting, Kathy Peterson and Jeremy Oden spoke to the Republican Women of Huntsville. During her talk, Peterson told the gathering that there had been an attempt to get her to drop out of the race.

The next day, Lochamy sent her an e-mail with the subject heading, “update on Stand Up For Alabama Coalition…”

Lochamy wrote that based on Peterson’s lack of response since their last meeting, that he and the group “have chosen another of our candidates to serve as my Co-Chair, and we will be announcing the launch of the coalition this month.”

As described at great length in his e-mails, the primary purpose of Stand Up For Alabama Coalition was to serve a a bully pulpit — to hold press conferences, meetings, to rouse the public and make noise for the conservative issues it supported.

It’s now almost three months since that e-mail. Still, no such organization has been incorporated, started a web-site, a Facebook page, anything. And Lochamy still won’t disclose backers of an organization. One would think that deep pocket conservatives would have no problem declaring their backing of such a group, especially to a woman in the midst of being courted to serve as one of its top two officials. Even she was kept in the dark.

 

Flush with $350,000 plus in campaign cash, Oden's campaign has flooded the airwaves with this TV ad that cutely addresses his lack of name recognition -- is he Jimmy or Jeremy? -- and ends with a spirited if altogether irrelevant pledge to somehow use his position on the PSC to "fight Obama."

Flush with $350,000 plus in campaign cash, Oden’s campaign has flooded the airwaves with this TV ad that cutely addresses his lack of name recognition — is he Jimmy or Jeremy? — and ends with a spirited if altogether irrelevant pledge to somehow use his position on the PSC to “fight Obama.”

This is what Lochamy wrote in response to my questions about the continued non-existence of Stand Up For Alabama Coalition.

“As far as your search for any records verifying Stand Up For Alabama, I have not and will initiate the business of the coalition until we are ready to launch… and I clarified to Kathy in our initial discussions that the people that I was counting on to help fund the coalition were not going to disclosed until the actual launch of the coalition…”

And what of the co-chair that he and Stand Up’s coalition had selected, as he’d declared in his final e-mail to Peterson?

Lochamy said that, prior to contacting Peterson, he had chosen another candidate. However, personal issues prevented that woman from going forward, thus his recruiting effort with Peterson.

After Peterson declined to serve as his “passionate partner” co-chair, Lochamy went back to his first choice. She “was receptive to accepting my offer to be my partner but that she felt that she needed a bit more time to reconcile her personal issue before she could join me in forming Stand Up For Alabama,” he stated.

“Based on my desire to have this individual be my active ‘boots on the ground’ partner and the short timeline that then existed before the upcoming primary elections, I decided that it would be best if I held up launching Stand Up For Alabama until around late August or early September,” he wrote.

“Eddie, I will keep you posted as we begin to re-establish our timeline to formerly establish and launch Stand Up For Alabama.”

Big bucks roll in for Oden

Did Jeremy Oden or anyone with his campaign know about the effort to hire Kathy Peterson? I don’t have a clue. Peterson, though Oden’s foe, suspects her opponent was unaware of Lochamy’s efforts to get her to drop out of the race.

“Bribes at this level are probably done by the decisions makers of the special interests who had the most to gain by me dropping out of the race. In my opinion, at that point, Oden didn’t need to know,” she said.

Lochamy, needless to say, denies any involvement with Oden or any one else working on Oden’s behalf, and strongly disputes any characterization of his offer as a bribe. “Paranoid” is how he characterized Peterson’s accusations when asked by the AP’s Phil Rawls.

I did not contact Oden because I am certain that neither he nor his campaign would respond. I do think it would be an interesting question for someone in the state media to pose, but see that as unlikely to occur.

Was Lochamy acting on behalf of people or a company or companies that wanted Peterson out of the race in order to ensure Oden stays remains in office?

What do you think?

Prior to Lochamy’s effort to recruit Kathy Peterson, Oden had received a decent amount of campaign donations, much of it from coal interests. Utilities, as you may know, are prohibited from contributing to PSC campaigns. The coal industry, including Drummond Coal, the Alabama Coal Association and related groups, have a long history of playing stand in for Alabama Power at campaign time. You can always tell who Alabama Power wants to win by looking at which candidates are receiving coal money.

This year, Alabama Power’s candidates are Chip Beeker against Dunn, and Oden vs. Peterson.

In April, Oden’s coffers swelled with contributions, much of it tied to coal. That month his campaign took in $287,000. As a comparison, Gov. Bentley’s campaign received some $294,000 that  month. House Speaker Mike Hubbard — the second most powerful politician in the state — took in about $17o,ooo in April, more than $100,000 less than Oden. And Hubbard, too, has a primary opponent.

 

BLAH BLAH

Here is a page from Oden’s Aprl campaign report. He’s received well over $200,000 from two PACs — Pride PAC II and T-Town PAC, that are operated by Mike Echols of Tuscaloosa. The two PACS have also given heavily to Terry Dunn’s opponent, Chip Beeker, and donated $12,500 apiece to Coal Jobs Count, the upstart organization that’ seems  to exist solely to bash Dunn. The two PACS have received substantial sums from coal interests and other Alabama Power vendors. One of the PAC’s also paid Alabama Power’s political consulting firm, Matrix LLC, more than $5,000 for polling services.

We conclude with some “Great Moments in Political BS”

Lochamy managed to criticize Oden in the same e-mail in which he urged Peterson to quit the race against Oden. Were Peterson to join him, the Stand Up For Alabama Coalitio, would truly “have a bold ‘bully pulpit’ and develop a ‘coalition’ of like minded and concerned citizens to actually impact the future direction of our state and our precious country.”

And then (emphasis mine) :

“As an example, Governor Bentley’s chosen appointee, Jeremy Oden, and his fellow PSC Commissioners and their behind the scenes “cronies” will not escape our questions and will like all other elected officials and media outlets will feel the wrath of our efforts to “stand up” for our fellow citizens by having our “bully pulpit” to raise questions about the PSC’s positions and for us to provide a voice for our fellow citizens with our bold “bully pulpit.”

Another e-mail included a snide reference to Oden as being Gov. Bentley’s “buddy,” and this as well:

as Gomer Pyle said, “shame, shame, shame”… I see our website and blog having a “shame, shame, shame” placements… giving our fellow citizens “points to ponder”…

 

BLAH BLAH

Inspiration for future Stand Up For Alabama Coalition blog?