Will Marathon and Northern Star Provide a Voice?

With Southern Company apparently violating its own compliance policy while being engulfed in a grave third-party risk crisis because of their sister-wife relationship with Balch & Bingham (only two weeks before their annual shareholders meeting), we reached out yesterday to two of Balch & Bingham’s most profitable D.C. lobbying clients for 2018: Marathon Petroleum and Northern Star Generation.

We outlined the indictment of two Balch partners, the suppression of African-Americans in North Birmingham, the false arrest of Burt Newsome, and other alleged unsavory conduct by the silk-stocking law firm.

Similar to our message to other Balch clients last June, we told them they had:

“…the power to provide a voice: a voice to those poor African-Americans in North Birmingham, a voice for people like Burt Newsome who were treated with apparent injustice.We want to ask you to please call or email M. Stanford Blanton the Managing Partner at Balch … and ask him to bring an end to this alleged unscrupulous behavior. Let him know that [your company] does not want to be associated with this type of behavior at any level, no matter how professional or productive Balch’s lobbyists may be.”

We also told them:

“Last October, after the indictments, half of Balch’s paid lobbying clients dumped the firm and Balch’s top lobbyist who had worked at the firm for two decades jumped ship. Their actions affirm that third-party risks for heavily regulated industries need to be managed and dealt with swiftly.”

We also outlined our concerns in a phone call with the General Manager of Northern Star, David Sims.

Northern Star Generation is jointly owned by three investment powerhouses: Harbert Power,  CalPERS, and the Archmore International Infrastructure Fund. We also have begun reaching out to them.

For over a year, we have tried to get Balch to do the right thing: conduct a top-to-bottom review of the firm and get rid of any bad apples, settle the Burt Newsome matter, and apologize to the North Birmingham African-American community.

What will it take to get Balch’s leadership to bite its tongue and clean up the mess, once and for all?

Will it take a phone call from the highly-respected investment manager Raymond J. Harbert?  An internal email from the seasoned lobbyist Margaret Caravelli? Another termination notice from another heavy-hitter client?