If anyone had doubts about reporting at donaldwatkins.com regarding peculiar contracts between Alabama Power and the Matrix LLC "dirty tricks" firm of Montgomery, they might want to rethink things. That thought arises in the wake of a Watkins post yesterday in which an attorney for Matrix and owner/founder Joe Perkins demanded links to two Alabama Power contracts be removed from the Watkins Web site.
Did attorney Cason Kirby present sufficient grounds for removal of the links? Not to Watkins' satisfaction, and the links remain at his site. In fact, the demand caused Watkins, an attorney by training, to take a closer look at the contracts and report on them again under the headline "Joe Perkins-Alabama Power Co. Contracts Raise New Red Flags": Writes Watkins:
On December 26, 2021, donaldwatkins.com published two contracts executed between Joe Perkins/Matrix and Alabama Power Company ("APC"): (a) Agreement No. 3-18-00552, which paid Joe Perkins $124,000 per month, "without invoicing," and (b) Agreement No. 3-18-00487, which paid Perkins' Matrix, LLC ("Matrix"), $90,000 per month, "without invoicing." [Click here to read Agreement Nos. 3-18-00552 and 3-18-00487]. In total, $2.5 million in APC ratepayer money was paid to Perkins and Matrix between January 1, 2018 and July 31, 2019.
On January 12, 2022, Birmingham, Alabama attorney Cason M. Kirby contacted donaldwatkins.com on behalf of his client, Joe Perkins, and demanded that these two APC Agreements be removed from my online news website. Mr. Kirby claimed: (a) the APC Agreements were "stolen," (b) Agreement No. 3-18-00552 contained Perkins' Social Security number, and (c) the APC Agreements contained Joe Perkins' "trade secrets." For the reasons discussed in this article, Mr. Kirby's demand was rejected.
Was it a good idea for Perkins to seek removal of the documents, which show that Alabama Power paid Matrix some $2.5 million without the need for itemized invoices? Maybe not, as Watkins reports:
Perkins' efforts to remove the APC Agreements from public view forced me to take a closer look at them. When I revisited the Agreements, they raised new red flags.
Agreement No. 3-18-00552, which is dated August 1, 2018, purports to be a contract between APC and Perkins Communications, LLC. According to records on file with the Alabama Secretary of State's office, Perkins Communications is an Alabama limited liability company that was formed on January 2, 1997 by Joseph W. Perkins, Jr., and Amy Todd Perkins (his wife).
Rather than using the corporate tax ID number for Perkins Communications in order to receive $124,000 per month from APC, Joe Perkins used what his attorney has confirmed is Perkins' Social Security number to access APC's money. Joe Perkins, as an individual, and Perkins Communications, LLC, are two separate legal entities for federal income tax reporting purposes.
APC contracted with Perkins Communications, LLC, in Agreement No. 3-18-00552, not Joe Perkins, in his individual capacity. Yet, it appears that APC paid $1,488,000 ($124,000 per month for 12 months) to Joe Perkins "without invoicing," even though Perkins Communications is the legal entity specified in the first paragraph of Agreement No. 3-18-00552.
Why the curious "no invoicing" language in the contracts? Watkins explains it with this sub-headline: "APC Wanted Its Business Relationship with Perkins Concealed from Public Disclosure":
To conceal its business relationship with a known federal lawbreaker from ratepayers, government regulators, media organizations, and the general public, APC seems to have inserted this "stealth" activation clause into Agreement No. 3-18-00552: "Consultant agrees to treat this Agreement, the existence of this Agreement, the business relationship established hereunder, and the Services performed pursuant to this Agreement as Protected Information. Consultant will not issue or make a public statement concerning the work hereunder or the existence of this Agreement without Company's prior consent, except to the extent required by law."
The same "stealth" language also appears in APC's Agreement No. 3-18-00487 with Matrix.
Until the publication of my December 26, 2021 article, the public did not know that APC paid a confessed federal lawbreaker $2.5 million between January 1, 2018 and July 31, 2019 to perform secret, politically sensitive, and highly suspect public relations work on its behalf.
Could this situation get dicey for Alabama Power and Matrix? The answer appears to be yes. Writes Watkins:
Because APC is a regulated public utility, various federal statutes and provisions of the Code of Federal Regulations impose an affirmative duty upon the Company to disclose the names and contracts of its vendors to federal regulators and members of the public.
Additional disclosure requirements apply to APC because the company engaged in interstate commerce each time it used Alabama ratepayer dollars to pay for the billions of dollars in cost-overruns that have plagued the Southern Company's construction of a troubled nuclear power plant in Mississippi. Ironically, the Mississippi nuclear power plant was never intended to provide electrical power to APC's Alabama customers. Yet, APC's money was conscripted by the Southern Company for the Mississippi nuclear plant without disclosure to APC ratepayers.
What about Perkins' contention that the contracts constitute "trade secrets"? Watkins addresses that issue:
In "Alabama Power Co. Paid $2.5 Million to Joe Perkins, 'Without Invoicing'," I described the nature and scope of Perkins' clandestine work for APC. In essence, Perkins was tasked with controlling and/or silencing: (a) the Alabama Education Association, (b) the Alabama AFL-CIO, (c) the Atlanta-based National Southern Christian Leadership Conference ("SCLC"), (d) various education groups and associations, (e) media outlets in Alabama, (f) Black Belt officials, and (g) any other organization or entity that might threaten or adversely impact Alabama Power's: (i) monopoly as an electric utility in Alabama, (ii) cozy relationship with federal, state, and local environmental protection agencies, (iii) control of news reporters in Alabama who cover environmental and regulatory matters, and (iv) decades-long chokehold on the governor's office, state legislature, Public Service Commission, state and federal courts, the Alabama Attorney General's Office, Alabama's three U.S. Attorneys, and mayors of the state's major cities.
Perkins claims the APC contracts define his "trade secrets." Law enforcement agencies in Florida, along with the Environmental Protection Agency, U.S. Department of Commerce, and Federal Election Commission in Washington, may have a different view of Perkins' scope of work, particularly in light of a lawsuit filed in Florida on September 2, 2021 by Matrix's former CEO [Jeff Pitts] that claims Perkins engaged in a pattern and practice of "racketeering activity."
Whether Perkins' work for APC is characterized as "trade secrets" or "racketeering activity," there is no dispute that it has benefited APC. By leveraging donations from APC's charitable Foundation in 2017 (along with Foundation donations in prior and subsequent years), Perkins has been able to: (a) silence the Congressional Black Caucus on environmental justice issues with a $10,000 APC Foundation donation, (b) quiet the voice of Dr. Martin Luther King's SCLC on environmental justice issues for a $50,000 donation, (c) neuter the Martin Luther King Center with a $10,000 donation, (d) silence the NAACP with a $1,000 donation, (e) quiet the National Council of Negro Women with $100, (f) muzzle the National Voting Rights Museum and Institute in Selma, Alabama with a $5,000 donation, and (g) silence the United Negro College Fund with a $10,000 donation.
Where does Southern Company, parent firm of Alabama Power, fit into the equation? For one, it can't claim ignorance, Watkins reports:
Both of Joe Perkins' secret APC Agreements were signed by Zeke W. Smith, whose email address is: ZWsmith@southernco.com. Mr. Smith's email address removes any doubt about whether the Southern Company knew that APC was in a clandestine business relationship with a known federal lawbreaker.
Where could all of this be headed? Watkins suggests that Alabama law enforcement isn't likely to get involved, partly because of Perkins' longstanding friendship with U.S. Sen. Richard Shelby (R-AL). But a protective coating might not be present in Florida, where the Pitts lawsuit is unfolding amid political turmoil that appears to involve Matrix:
In recent years, Joe Perkins has tried to replicate his successful "trade secrets" in Florida. Today, these "trade secrets" are the subject of news media investigations by the Orlando Sentinel and Florida Times-Union, as well as Florida-based law enforcement officials.
Meanwhile, donaldwatkins.com is committed to continuing its news investigation into the unholy alliance between APC and Joe Perkins. We are following APC's money into Perkins and his businesses to see where this money went from there. This is painstaking investigative work because APC did not require Perkins to submit invoices for the $2.5 million he received between January 1, 2018 and July 31, 2019.
Despite the built-in roadblocks to transparency, donaldwatkins.com is making substantial progress with its investigation. The public will be stunned to see where some of APC's ratepayer money finally ended up.