Friday, March 17, 2023

Alabama political figure, who called for Donald Watkins to be jailed for practicing journalism, has an arrest for domestic violence in his background

Steve Flowers

A veteran Alabama political commentator, who called this week for Donald Watkins to be thrown in jail for his online journalism, has a domestic-violence arrest in his background. Steve Flowers, who apparently called for Watkins arrest because he disliked the longtime attorney's hard-hitting investigative reporting on the evolving Southern Company/Alabama Power/Matrix LLC fraud-bribery scandal, was arrested in 2007 for "domestic violence battery" and "criminal mischief." Details on the Flowers criminal case come from a report at under the headline "Joe Perkins’ Defender Arrested for Domestic Violence." Perkins is the founder and owner of the Montgomery-based Matrix LLC political-consulting firm, which long has been known as a "dirty tricks" operations, with ties to powerful GOP political figures, such as retired U.S. Sen. Richard Shelby. Writes Watkins:

Steve Flowers, a/k/a Jackson Stephen Flowers, was arrested on April 10, 2007, in Okaloosa County, Florida for “Domestic Violence Battery” and “Criminal Mischief.” On June 21, 2007, Flowers entered into a deferred prosecution agreement which required him to (a) participate in a court-approved domestic violence counseling program and (b) make a payment to a rape crisis trust fund. Flowers was also required to pay a domestic violence surcharge.

After Steve Flowers made the required court payments and completed the terms of his deferred prosecution agreement, state prosecutors dismissed his domestic violence case.

Flowers' court docket sheet may be viewed here.

That is reminiscent of another case involving a prominent Alabama political figure, Watkins notes, and it leads to Perkins' own history of alleged domestic misconduct and professional entanglements:

Former Chief U.S. District Court Judge Mark E. Fuller (Montgomery, Alabama) used this same judicial approach to resolve a domestic-violence charge against him after he viciously beat his second wife in a downtown Atlanta hotel room on August 11, 2014.

Like Steve Flowers, Mark Fuller was a Joe Perkins friend and fellow domestic violence arrestee. Fuller resigned his federal judgeship after Congress threatened to impeach him.

On May 15, 2022, Joe Perkins, himself, was accused by his daughter, Taylor Lea Perkins, of committing incest against her from the age of 3 or 4 to 12 or 13. Perkins has NOT denied his now-adult daughter’s rape and incest allegations.

Perkins is also a confessed federal lawbreaker. His confession can be viewed here.

In 2021, Jeff Pitts, Perkins' former CEO at Matrix, LLC, accused him in court pleadings of extortion, racketeering, and abuse of the legal process. Under pressure from the Southern Company, Perkins quickly settled the case after Pitts filed subpoenas in court for a host of incriminating business documents in Perkins' possession.

Earlier this week, Perkins was back in the news when media groups in Alabama reported that one of his subcontractors procured and maintained a supply of black prostitutes to service new Alabama Power Company CEO Jeff Peoples, at a cost to the company of up to $30,000 per month.

On June 9, 2022, Joe Perkins was accused by his daughter of arranging hotel room abortions. Again, Perkins has NOT denied his daughter's claim.

Amid the growing media scandal and law enforcement investigations that have engulfed Joe Perkins, Matrix, Alabama Power, Georgia Power, Mississippi Power, the Southern Company, and his other corporate clients, Perkins has chosen to attack me. His orchestrated attacks on me have only brought further attention to the lawlessness within the Southern Company's empire of energy-producing businesses.

Perkins has transmogrified from the Southern Company's hired "crisis manager" to the epicenter of the company's shocking meltdown and growing law-enforcement crisis. In the process, Perkins has started posting cryptic comments on his Facebook page like, "Dying is so overrated. It is a great beginning, not a (sic) ending."

Flowers' call for Watkins' incarceration can be traced to Joe Perkins, Watkins writes, and that leads to more baggage in Flowers' background:

Steven Flowers is a washed-up former Alabama state legislator who left public office in 1998. He is also a part-time Internet blogger and a rehabilitated domestic-violence perpetrator. Most importantly, Flowers is a close friend of Joe Perkins -- whenever he gets paid to place Perkins/Matrix-written articles on his blog.

Flowers was tapped earlier this week to lead the Southern Company’s smear campaign against me.

Flowers’ last high-profile media appearance occurred in 2016 and centered on his use of at least $40,000 in campaign funds for “personal expenses.” Flowers' use of leftover campaign funds is ongoing. [Click here to see Flowers' expenditures from a 1998 campaign fund that he has converted to his personal use over the past 25 years].

Once again, Flowers managed to escape a criminal prosecution for his deeds.

Flowers’ attack article on me was placed in the Alabama Political Reporter and circulated as a news release. According to National Public Radio (NPR), Joe Perkins pays the Alabama Political Reporter (APR) $8,000 per month to run attack articles on his enemies. The NPR article explains how the "dirty tricks" business arrangement works between Joe Perkins and APR's Editor-in-Chief, Bill Britt.

For the record, APR has refused to run my rebuttal article, even though I made a formal request on March 15, 2023, for them to do so.

At this point, Steve Flowers, APR, and Bill Britt may be material witnesses in the federal probe of Perkins, Matrix, Alabama Power, and the Southern Company.

Perkins, Watkins writes, has a curious history with Alabama's mainstream press:

For years, Joe Perkins has managed to commandeer much of Alabama’s weak, financially strapped, and compromised press apparatus to distribute his “hit” pieces under the guise of mainstream journalism. This goal is typically accomplished by funneling desperately needed Alabama Power Company cash to the state's starving news-media outlets.

Unfortunately for Joe Perkins, neither Steve Flowers, nor APR, nor Perkins’ other paid media cronies are in a position to dispute the authenticity of handwritten documents Perkins made that document the massive accounting-fraud scheme and racketeering enterprise that operated at Alabama Power, the Southern Company, and its affiliates for more than a decade. Perkins' handwritten notes speak for themselves.

Perkins' notes, together with much more damning evidence of wrongdoing, will soon be on their way to federal prosecutors in Washington and the Southern Company's two largest institutional investors -- The Vanguard Group, Inc., and BlackRock, Inc.

On the subject of incarceration, Watkins says that might not turn out the way Flowers envisions:

Steve Flowers said I should be jailed for writing and publishing my articles about Joe Perkins, Richard Shelby, Matrix, the Alabama Supreme Court, Birmingham federal prosecutors, Alabama Power Company, and the Southern Company. Flowers labeled me as "brazen," "arrogant,""non-repentant,"and a "threat to society."

These are the same words and phrases Flowers' Old South ancestors used to describe runaway black slaves, as well as those who could not be broken.

Flowers also lamented that the nation's forefathers never envisioned someone like me having First Amendment rights. This statement is true. When America was founded, blacks in this country, whether enslaved or freed, had no rights that white men were bound to respect. See, Dred Scott v. Sanford (1857).

In 2022, the all-white Alabama Supreme Court (in a state with a 26% black population) embraced Flowers' slavery-era view in Joe Perkins' defamation case against me. Remember, this is the same state supreme court that upheld a $500,000 defamation judgment against Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and four fellow civil-rights activists in 1963 in the landmark case of New York Times v. Sullivan.

Finally, it appears that Joe Perkins and his circle of friends at Alabama Power and the Southern Company are the ones who should be worried about going to jail. As I understand it, former Alabama Power CEO Mark Crosswhite is prepared to sing like an opera star to federal law-enforcement agents.


Anonymous said...

I'm sure you won't publish this because this is all chickenshit not the narrative you want out there, but I figured I'd call it like I see it. I worked in the cesspit of Alabama politics for 26 years before leaving the state 11 years ago. Believe it or not, there are much greener pastures to work in and I've never looked back. I was in Birmingham earlier this week visiting some family and had lunch with an old friend while I was in town. He told me all about this feud with Alabama Power and showed me all the websites and sensational allegations. I'll admit that I was never a fan of Steve Flowers, Matrix, Perkins, or anybody associated with their ilk at Alabama Power. But I'll tell you what I see from here: This looks like a money grab effort by that Forbes fella, and he recruited a two of the of most incompetent idiots he could find to help him. I've never seen a less credible group of people to accuse anybody of anything. As I hear it, Watkins just got out of prison, and between the two of you, you owe somewhere close to $20 Million with about $5 million of that for defamation. I'd probably be out there trying to grab some money any way I could too if I was this stupid. You guys should call yourselves the Defamation Duo. Have some t-shirts made.

legalschnauzer said...

Anon @3:34 --

Here is your comment, so just thought I would surprise you by publishing it. Not sure why I did that, but I was intrigued by your history with Alabama and Birmingham, plus your apparent ties to politics and/or the law. You seem like a pretty intelligent fellow, but you reached some conclusions that are off target. I thought this might be an opportunity to set the record straight, both for you and other readers who have followed the Southern Company story. You reached out to me, so I guess this is my way of reaching back to you. You are welcome to keep the communication going, but of course, that's up to you; you have no obligation to reply at all.

I'll start with a couple of questions:

(1) You say "this is all chickenshit," and I'm not sure what you mean. Are you saying your own comment is "chickenshit"? Are you saying the Southern Company scandal itself is "chickenshit"? Are you saying my coverage -- along with that of K.B. Forbes and Donald Watkins -- is "chickenshit? Pleas explain if you care to.

(2) I was intrigued by your statement that you had "worked in the cesspit of Alabama politics" for 26 years. I've written a blog about said cesspit for roughly 16 years, and I've seen it in an up-close way -- in state court (Shelby County, Jefferson County) and federal court (Hugo Black Courthouse in Birmingham) -- for about 20 years. That's something you and I have in common; we both know the cesspit well. I've seen crooked judges and mostly wretched lawyers in all three of the locations mentioned above, and it troubles me because Alabama's "democracy" sits on a foundation of rotting wood, inhabited by political animals who have little regard for the rule of law, due process, and equal protection. You probably would agree that the judicial system is intertwined with politics, so I would be interested in why you think it's a "cesspit"; what you've seen that leads you to that conclusion. I no longer live in Alabama, but I still have mostly fond memories of it and I would like to see it prosper. I imagine you have quite a bit of insight on the state, and I would be interested in knowing more on your thoughts about Alabama's shortcomings -- and how the state can move forward.

The only part of your comment that bugs me comes when you start tossing insults toward K.B. Forbes, Donald Watkins, and myself. You suggest that Mr. Forbes is involved in a "money grab," that Mr. Watkins and I are "incompetent idiots," prone to writing defamatory articles. My impression is that you are smart enough to be above that level of discourse. But setting that aside, I'd like to respond to these conclusions, which as I noted earlier, are off target:

legalschnauzer said...

(continued from above)

(a) K.B. Forbes, as CEO of a public charity and advocacy group, has worked on a national level to advocate for consumer health care, helping to expose hospital price gouging of uninsured patients, authoring nine investigative reports and sparking three Congressional hearings. It's not unusual for him to take on complex, important issues, such as the Southern Company matter. He's been doing it for roughly two decades, and he's written more insightful, hard-hitting articles on the Southern Company cesspit than anyone. I've gotten to know K.B. pretty well, and I can say with certainty that he is not in the "money grabbing business," whatever that is. Are you suggesting that all journalism is simply a cover for orchestrated efforts to grab money? If so, you underestimate K.B. Forbes. He is a serious guy who was willing to wade into the Southern Company swamp when the mainstream media would not touch it. His reporting, perhaps more than anything else, brought down Alabama Power CEO Mark Crosswhite and prompted him to seek an immunity deal for cooperating with federal investigators. As you probably understand, that is a huge story in Alabama.

BTW, Forbes did not "recruit" me, and I'm pretty sure he did not recruit Watkins.

(b) If you truly think Donald Watkins is an "incompetent idiot," I can only gather that you base that on limited information, bad information, or skewed objectivity. I've watched Donald Watkins work, and he's one of the smartest individuals I've come across. He has unearthed documents that have moved the Southern Company story forward in profound ways -- and I understand he has much more to come. Yes, Watkins ran into business problems and wound up spending roughly three years in prison. But he claims he and his son were framed and has taken steps to help prove that. You and I know the Alabama cesspit well, and Donald Watkins was forced to walk right into the teeth of it. Could Alabama's politicized judiciary frame a black man who happens to be outspoken? I have no problem believing that could happen; it's not far-fetched at all, in my experience.

Yes, Watkins lost a defamation case brought by Joe Perkins. But I'm not confident that was handled properly. BTW, you refer to me as part of the "Defamation Duo," so I feel compelled to address that issue briefly.

In 30-plus years of practicing journalism, I've been sued twice for defamation -- if my memory is correct. Both cases were filed by Alabama political figures. Fighting those taught me that defamation is a peculiar legal bird. It mostly is a state-law matter, but can also come under federal courts. Statutes on the matter don't tend to inform much, and much of the case law is poorly written. It can be tough to figure out, particularly for a non-lawyer, but I think I've got two key points down: (1) A case of alleged defamation must go to trial; and (2) It must be heard by a jury; a judge is prohibited from acting as a one-man censor.

You probably know about these principles, so I won't go into a lengthy discussion. But for other readers who might be following along, here are some of the basics.

legalschnauzer said...

(continued from above)

One of the best discussions I've found comes from Kramer v. Thompson (3rd Circuit, 1991), holding:
a. "The United States Supreme Court has held repeatedly that an injunction against speech generally will not be considered an unconstitutional prior restraint if it is issued after a jury has determined that the speech is not constitutionally protected. See, e.g., Pittsburgh Press Co. v. Pittsburgh Comm'n on Human Rel., 413 U.S. 376, 390, 93 S.Ct. 2553, 2561, 37 L.Ed.2d 669 (1973).

In other words, if a defamation claim is to overcome heavy legal emphasis against prior restraints, there must be a trial, and a jury must make that finding -- a judge cannot make such a ruling as a one-man censor.

At the state level, a California case called Balboa Island Inn v. Lumen has an excellent discussion on these issues and cites numerous cases for the same finding -- that defamation cases require both a trial and a jury.

A couple of quick points re: my own experience with defamation cases: (1) As you probably know, I face one such complaint in Shelby County. A "specially appointed judge" had me arrested for alleged civil contempt of a temporary restraining order/preliminary injunction, both of which long have been held to be unlawful prior restraints under Near v. Minnesota. Again, this ruling was made by a judge -- with no trial and no jury. So, not only did he get his ruling wrong, he had no authority under the law to make it.

(2) The other case involved GOP operative Jessica Medeiros Garrison, and again, there was no trial or jury regarding her $3.5-million default judgment. A judge simply made a ruling he had no authority to make. Even worse, I was not present for the hearing because I received no notice of it -- and my memory is that the docket shows no notice was sent. Under Alabama law -- that means Garrison's judgment is void and can be attacked as such at any time. That is per the Alabama Supreme Court in Cornelius v. Browning (2011).

Here is a little challenge for you: I would welcome your research on this. If you can find in either of these two cases, where a trial was held and a jury made the final ruling, I would love to see it. If you can find any facts or law that suggest the Garrison ruling isn't void, I would love to see that.

I have similar concerns re: the Joe Perkins defamation case against Donald Watkins. My research indicates the case was conducted in state court (Tuscaloosa County), and a judge granted summary judgment in Perkins' favor -- ignoring the principle that a defamation case must be determined by a trial and a jury. I suspect the finding against Watkins is unlawful.

I will conclude with one final point: You crack wise about Forbes, Watkins, and me, but you admit Alabama is a political "cesspit." Isn't it possible that an entity as powerful as Southern Company is part of that cesspit? Have we done more than anyone else in journalism to expose that cesspit and see that perhaps something is done about it? I submit the answer is yes, so why do you view us as fraudsters or jokes?

That's the part of your comment, I do not get. It seems you should be on the same side as the three of us, but you aren't. You want to see the cesspit continue to burn and flourish?

Feel free to explain yourself further. As for me, I've run your comment and responded (I hope) in a thoughtful way. If you are OK with continuing the discourse, I look forward to your reply.

Best regards,

Legal Schnauzer

Anonymous said...

The only part of my comment that bugs you is the one that is most relevant. Every attorney in Birmingham knows how and why this started. It was all a personal feud that started with Forbes' buddy, Burt Newsome. Together they started seeing dollar signs. I know attorneys that are familiar with Burt Newsome and they all say he's a loose cannon. I've never met the man and don't care to, but his reputation certainly precedes him. Every attorney in the state sees Donald Watkins for what he is, a convicted criminal who claims to operate under some divine notion while doing anything for a buck. Then he'll claim that he's not being paid for it because every dime he makes should be paying his restitution. It seems quite likely you share a similar business model and are on the payroll as well. I've been browsing through your recent posts. Why else would you be so vehement in echoing everything those two say word for word? I bet Forbes sucked you two into this fight because he needs desperate people who have nothing to lose financially and are willing to say anything because they're broke. People don't do stupid shit like this for free, especially in Alabama. If they do, then they really are stupid. So if my comment bothered you, it's because the truth bothers you.

legalschnauzer said...

Looks like I've over-rated your intelligence and seriousness. It's clear now you aren't all that smart, and you certainly aren't serious about the problems that turned Alabama into a "cesspit." My apologies to readers for thinking you were someone worthy of, or capable of, meaningful discourse. Sounds like you support those who turned Alabama into a cesspit -- and perhaps you've helped create the cesspit. I'm guessing Alabama caught a break when you bailed out for another state. How do I reach these unflattering conclusions? Let's look at some clues:

(1) Consider your language -- "Every attorney in Birmingham knows ... how this started"; "I know attorneys that are familiar with Burt Newsome, and he's a loose cannon"; "Every attorney in the state sees Donald Watkins for what he is . . ."

(2) These are the words of a mind that is shallow, lazy, or both. It's also the work of a dishonest mind. You don't know what every attorney says or thinks, but you act like you do. You're essentially a gossip talking to another gossip over a backyard fence. That's how you get your version of the truth -- and it's pure pablum, worthless. I suspect you have no clue about Burt Newsome's real reputation. You also have no clue about K.B. Forbes, Donald Watkins, or me -- and you probably aren't interested in the truth, unless it comes from the gossip next door.

(3) Since you pretend to cite lawyers a lot, I assume you are a lawyer. I've come across a few lawyers over the years who have no apparent interest in matters of justice. You seem to fit that mold.

(4) In my response to you, I cited several serious issues about the Southern Company scandal and welcomed your take on things. I also invited you to research law related to defamation, which seems to be a favorite topic of yours, and to let me know if you found anything contrary to what I've published here in probably a dozen or more posts. Your response? Nothing.

(5) That tells me you aren't interested in corruption or the law -- either because you're not smart enough to consider such issues, you're too lazy, or you have an ox in the scandal business, and you don't like your ox being gored.

(6) I hinted that I would welcome an ongoing discourse with you. But my advice is don't bother. You aren't worth my time, or my readers' time. And again, I apologize to people of good intentions for making the mistake of thinking otherwise.

(7) You seem to delight in calling others stupid. Before you do that again, I would advise you to look at the man in the mirror. Who is really stupid here? Who is dishonest and lazy. The honest answers, if you are capable of reaching them, might surprise you.

(8) A final note: Communicating with you is the equivalent of listening to a drunk at a nearby bar stool. If I want to hear empty babble, I'll visit the nearest tavern. I see no reason to subject myself, or my readers, to your drivel again. I'm sorry I did it the first time.