Tuesday, March 7, 2023

"Sex, Lies, and Photographs," plus Donald Watkins' discovery of Joe Perkins' "Homewood Notes," add new layers of intrigue to Southern Company scandal


Joe Perkins' notes


Joe Perkins, founder and owner of the Montgomery-based Matrix LLC "dirty tricks" consulting firm, wouldn't lie to the public, would he? Longtime Alabama attorney Donald Watkins has uncovered documents, and published portions of them at his donaldwatkins.com Web site, and those internal notes suggest the answer to our question is this: "Yes, Perkins might fudge the truth just a bit."

That comes from a post today at banbalch.com. Publisher K.B. Forbes, who also is CEO of the blog's parent organization (the CDLU public charity and advocacy group), provides insight on Watkins' profoundly important investigative findings, which paint a stark and disturbing portrait of Alabama's  dysfunctional legal, political, and corporate environments. Under the headline, "Sex, Lies, and Photographs: Alabama Power CEO Jeff Peoples Kowtows to “Sloppy” Joe Perkins," Forbes writes:

Over the weekend, DonaldWatkins.com released a bombshell document: handwritten notes written in 2017 from Sloppy Joe, and it shows the unbelievable entanglement of Peoples with Perkins.

Donald Watkins writes:

At this juncture, the Southern Company cannot terminate its business relationship with Joe Perkins. Why? Perkins has a mountain of documented “dirt” on Southern Company senior management executives which could result in criminal charges and jail time for many of them.

For example, the “Homewood Notes” Joe Perkins made during an April 6, 2017, meeting with a top Southern Company executive and others document part of a sophisticated, multi-state accounting fraud scheme and ongoing racketeering enterprise….

Perkins’ notes suggested that Nancy Sykes, then-Executive Vice President and Chief Human Resources Officer at Southern Company Services, James Gravie, then-Senior Vice President in Human Resources for Total Rewards and Technology, and Jeff Peoples, then-Executive Vice President of Customer and Employee Services at Alabama Power Company, could submit an “anonymous complaint” to the Southern Company board of directors that “would require an investigation” into the matters discussed during the April 6th meeting. According to the plan that was pitched during the meeting, they would “mention [Mark] Crosswhite in the complaint.”

Matrix used a private investigator named “Derreck (sic)” (meaning, Derek Uman) to do “research” on Kim Tananka (sic), Southern Company CEO Tom Fanning’s then-girlfriend (whose correct name is Kim Tanaka). The participants believed the anonymous complaint “need[ed] more intel” on Ms. Tanaka. Interestingly, Ms. Tanaka was an innocent party who held no position in any Southern Company business entity at the time she was targeted for clandestine surveillance activities.

Peoples never filed any such complaint with the Southern Company board of directors, or with anyone else.

That brings us to the "lies" portion of the CDLU headline. Writes Forbes:

Sloppy Joe Perkins has maintained that he was not involved in the surveillance of Tanaka or Fanning.

Alabama Media Group reported in August:

Uman, founder of Clear Capture Investigations of Gainesville, Fla., staked out Fanning’s Atlanta home and photographed him running on a wooded hill on a cul-de-sac leading to his secluded house. Uman followed and videoed Tanaka, gathered photos and billed then-Matrix CEO [Jeff] Pitts $6,881.55 for surveillance, travel, meals and more. Uman addressed the invoice to Pitts.

Uman, who said he has done lots of work for Matrix, refused to talk about the content of his investigation, saying that would be illegal. He did confirm the authenticity of the report, and said the invoice “was paid with a Matrix check that was signed by Joe Perkins.

Perkins said most Matrix checks are signed electronically and that he believed Matrix did not pay the invoice, which was directed to Pitts.

“I have never communicated with that man,” Perkins said. “I don’t know what check he has, but I don’t sign most of the checks that come out of the companies. They are automatic signatures. That’s just untrue.”

Later, Perkins said he had staff search Matrix records for a payment to Clear Capture in that amount and found none. Nor did they find any copies of the invoice provided to AL.com.

“Let me be clear, neither I nor Matrix had anything to do with the Tanaka surveillance,” Perkins said. “The Tanaka surveillance was contracted and overseen by Jeff, without my permission or knowledge.”

Perkins' notes and his statements to al.com do not appear to square with each other, Forbes reports:

The handwritten notes appear to show that Joe Perkins assigned several tasks in red ink to J.P., Jeff Pitts, Perkins’ once-protégé and the ex-CEO of Matrix.

Perkins has consistently told media that Pitts was a “rogue” employee who engaged in activities without his knowledge.

The notes appear to contradict Perkins.

We already have touched on the "sex" and "photographs" portion of the CDLU headline, but Forbes now provides more details -- especially as they relate to Jeff Peoples.

Why does Peoples matter? For one, he holds an awfully big title at Alabama Power, and he has maintained some dubious relationships outside the company, writes Forbes:

The latest question from Southern Company insiders is: When will Jeff Peoples be ousted?

The appointment in January of Jeff Peoples as Chairman and CEO of Alabama Power after Mark A. Crosswhite’s abrupt ouster during Thanksgiving week in 2022 is seen as a stopgap appointment in that Peoples, 63 at the time of his appointment, has mandatory retirement at 65 years of age.

Peoples has maintained the extremely controversial relationship with “Sloppy Joe” Perkins, the founder of Matrix, LLC, the consulting firm that engaged in alleged unethical if not criminal misconduct and whose entities received more than $2.2 million a year in compensation without the need to invoice. Peoples has also kept embattled law firm Balch & Bingham on retainer.

Perkins, the Oompa Loompa of Alabama politics, has been seen at the headquarters of Alabama Power allegedly acting like a miniature-sized kingpin, beaming as if he owned the place.

Does Perkins, the "dirty tricks" guy, have inside information that might cause him to think he DOES "own the place" when he's at Alabama Power? Hmmm . . . Writes Forbes:

The surveillance of Tanaka and Fanning was allegedly to obtain photographic evidence that Fanning was bisexual, according to sources familiar with the surveillance that occurred in 2017.

Photographs of Fanning having relations with a boy toy could have been used to oust him or even blackmail him to resign.

Fanning was highly vulnerable in 2017 with two Southern Company boondoggles: the Vogtle Nuclear Power Plant in Georgia and the Kemper Project in Mississippi both of which had cost overruns in the tens of billions.

And the handwritten notes published by Watkins prove unequivocally that both boondoggles were being used to attempt to manipulate senior leadership.

In closing, we ask:

  • What other photographs capturing embarrassing moments or sexual misconduct do Matrix or related entities have or not have?
  • Why is Peoples kowtowing to Perkins?
  • Will the King & Spalding probe force both Peoples and Perkins out?


Anonymous said...

Incredible reporting all the way around. Can one even think of another modern day corporate spy story with executives spying on the CEO to try to leverage them out? Get outed. Then they all try to deny it all and then get busted with the literal meeting notes. I mean hells bells. Not sure what else Donald Watkins has behind the curtain but on a scale from 1-10 this is a 20.

legalschnauzer said...

Thanks for the comment, @7:56. Mr. Watkins certainly is doing a public service, as is K.B. Forbes. Perhaps you have to be in, or from, Alabama to understand what a big story this is, but the state's MSM has been largely silent. The notion that Alabama Power feels the need to engage in racketeering, "dirty tricks," spying, etc. just blows my mind.

legalschnauzer said...

I have a feeling Mr. Watkins has a few more bombshells to pull out from behind the curtain. Wonder what they will prove to be . . . Perhaps the Luv Guv and Miss Becky are feeling a bit of indigestion at the moment. They probably have some company in that boat.

legalschnauzer said...

For inquiring minds: Does Perkins have dirt on Jeff Peoples, and is that why Peoples is keeping "Sloppy Joe" around?

legalschnauzer said...

This, from our earlier post today, is a stunner to me:

Participants in the meeting devised a plan to attack Southern Company board member “Johnny Johns” (whose real name is John D. Johns) for “Audit Board performance,” while specifically mentioning the “clean coal” plant construction project in Kemper, Mississippi and the Vogtle Nuclear Power Plant construction project for Units 3 and 4 in Waynesboro, Georgia. Currently, the Kemper project has $4 billion in cost overruns, while the Vogtle project is experiencing $21 billion in cost overruns. In 2017, Johnny Johns served on the board’s finance committee, which oversaw the internal and external auditing of the Southern Company’s financial books and records for both projects. Johns is a Senior Advisor for Blackstone, Inc. and former Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Protective Life Corporation.

My understanding is that John Johns is a genuine, big-time professional, highly respected. And the Perkins crowd is trying to cook up something against him? Jeepers!