[This post originally was published on October 22, 2018 before Alabama Power was linked to the staged arrest of Burt Newsome or the filing of ex-Drummond executive David Roberson’s $75 million civil suit. The Crosswhite Scandal (alleged imdemnity deals and secret million-dollar contracts) and the ever-growing Matrix Meltdown appear to have spurred a federal investigation. The actors, paid agents, and smear artists serving as apologists to Alabama Power and/or Balch & Bingham have only amplified the alleged insidious and corrupt misconduct. Now in 2022, Crosswhite has done nothing to cut ties with Balch. The secret $2.5 million in contracts with Matrix without the need of detailed invoices is a financial embarrassment. Crosswhite should be fired or forced to resign or retire.]
In June , we wrote about the explosive allegations about hired actors used to testify in public hearings on behalf of an electric utility in New Orleans.
Alabama Power, Balch & Bingham’s top client run by former Balch & Bingham partners, used a consulting firm tied to the scandal. The consulting firm denied ever hiring actors to attend public meetings on behalf of Alabama Power.
Responding to the weasel-worded denial by Alabama Power’s consultants, Hawthorn Group, we asked two hardball questions:
- Were actors ever hired for any other purpose (besides attending meetings) on behalf of Alabama Power?
- Has any other “third-party” vendor of Alabama Power ever engaged in conduct to create AstroTurf campaigns and bogus testimonials?
We followed-up the next day with a post about bogus environmentalists who were hired actors and, in a separate matter, how Balch & Bingham was hired in an alleged smear campaign.
We wrote at the time, “A coming crisis is truly on the horizon.”
On Sunday, the Los Angeles Times had a well-written piece of journalism about one of the entities involved in the “hired actors scandal” from June: Crowds on Demand.
Crowds on Demand, a Beverly Hills firm that’s an outspoken player in the business of hiring protesters, boasts on its website that it provides its clients with “protests, rallies, flash-mobs, paparazzi events and other inventive PR stunts.… We provide everything including the people, the materials and even the ideas.”
The company has hired actors to lobby the New Orleans City Council on behalf of a power plant operator, protest a Masons convention in San Francisco and act like supportive fans and paparazzi at an L.A. conference for life coaches.
But according to a lawsuit filed by a Czech investor, Crowds on Demand also takes on more sordid assignments. Zdenek Bakala claims the firm has been used to run an extortion campaign against him.
Bakala has accused Prague investment manager Pavol Krupa of hiring Crowds on Demand to pay protesters to march near his home in Hilton Head, S.C., and to call and send emails to the Aspen Institute and Dartmouth College, where Bakala serves on advisory boards, urging them to cut ties to him. Bakala alleges that Krupa has threatened to continue and expand the campaign unless Bakala pays him $23 million.
Bakala’s lawsuit, filed in federal court in South Carolina, also alleges violations of the federal Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, or RICO, a law originally intended to target organized crime syndicates. Bakala alleges Krupa, [Crowds on Demand founder Adam] Swart and Crowds on Demand have violated that law by participating in an extortion scheme against him.
In the Newsome Conspiracy Case, like Bakala, an innocent but successful person was targeted and defamed.
According to the 44 retaliatory orders, the Queen of the Star Chamber, Judge Carole Smitherman, had all of the co-conspirators’ “costs taxed against” Newsome.
Railroaded by an alleged criminal conspiracy that abused and manipulated the Alabama judicial system, the civil RICO case, currently being carefully and meticulously drafted on behalf of Newsome, may show how the “costs taxed against” Newsome appears to be nothing more than a form of extortion.
Alabama Power, whose parent company Southern Company tried to tell us had nothing to do with the Newsome Conspiracy Case, donated $2,500 to Judge Smitherman’s husband, State Senator Rodger Smitherman in July of last year, and another $2,000 this past May.
The incestuous, sister-wife relationship between Balch & Bingham and Alabama Power has existed for almost a century.
Soon the misdeeds, actors, and staged events will be exposed.
Mark Crosswhite, the CEO of Alabama Power, who took the lead to reform the Business Council of Alabama, will have to rise above the loyalty to his former firm and end this miscarriage of justice once and for all.