All that was missing were some tambourines and a bong.
The canned and hypocritical paragraph of bull from Alabama Power, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Southern Company, about vendors conducting themselves in a “highly ethical manner” and complying with “all legal requirements” didn’t deflect but instead has amplified Alabama Power’s relationship with third-party vendors and and vendors’ conduct in the past.
Let’s first look at 2013.
Eddie Curran, an investigative journalist who formerly worked at the Mobile Register for two-decades, wrote a post about the bogus environmentalists that appear to have been thespian and dance students from Birmingham that showed up outside the Alabama Public Service Commission in Montgomery after the meeting began, and left before the meeting was over. Joining them was a video camera crew.
Curran, who provided us with detailed notes of the incident and identities of some of the “actors,” said the staged protest of “arty liberal” phonies was done to simply smear a Public Service Commissioner named Terry Dunn.
The fake environmentalists were simply actors.
Actors who were fraudulently portraying liberal environmentalists in support of Terry Dunn, a conservative Republican politician. All that was missing were some tambourines and a bong.
What was Dunn’s mortal sin? He proposed a formal, public rate review—the first in 30 years in Alabama. Who did this outrage? Alagasco (the gas utility) and of course Alabama Power.
So who paid or recruited the actors? A third-party vendor? Consultants? Sub-contractors? A political entity?
No one can confirm if money was transferred or even lunch was paid for, but the actors appeared to have engaged in an AstroTurf facade.
The video of the bogus support of Dunn was used in a brilliantly deceptive political smear campaign that caused his eventual electoral loss in 2014.
Now let’s jump forward to 2018.
Alabama Political Reporter’s headline about the scandal at the Alabama State Department of Education says it all:
Asked about the use of Balch & Bingham attorneys for tasks that appear to be either so mundane that the ALSDE counsel should handle them or that are of a personal nature and outside of the scope of their daily job duties, an ALSDE spokesman declined to answer the specific questions and instead focused on the fact that the information had become public.
And what did ALSDE invoke to not say anything? Attorney-client privilege.
As we wrote in April about Special Counsel Robert S. Mueller and the raid on attorney Michael Cohen, “the action sends a clear message to insiders and those hose who hide behind attorney-client privilege to engage in alleged unsavory if not criminal conduct: you will be investigated regardless of your status or political influence.”
A coming crisis is truly on the horizon.