Thursday, September 21, 2023

Has K.B. Forbes' hard-hitting investigative journalism on scandal-plagued Southern Company made him the target of life-threatening, gun-oriented retaliation?

The Forbes backyard, showing path of the shot

Why would someone shoot into the home of K.B. Forbes, CEO of the CDLU nonprofit advocacy group, which has published probably several hundred investigative articles on corruption related to Atlanta-based Southern Company, the nation's second-largest utility and home to Alabama Power among other subsidiaries? Have First Amendment rights in the U.S. become so tenuous that journalists who create hard-hitting reports on matters of public interest must be on the lookout for gunfire flying through their homes? Is reporting accurately on sensitive topics at the Ban Balch blog enough to put a man's life at risk?

We do not have detailed answers to those questions -- yet. But it appears law enforcement, at several levels, has been provided with enough evidence to start putting together pieces of the puzzle. Under the headline "Southern Company Retaliatory Shooting? DOJ, SEC, NRC, and FBI Briefed," Forbes indicates he takes this matter seriously, very seriously:

Is Southern Company’s longtime consultant Joe Perkins (founder and owner of the Montgomery-based Matrix LLC political-consulting firm)  simply out of control? Is the Oompa Loompa of Alabama politics, who is paid millions by the utility, finally being shown the door by Southern Company?

What would cause an unknown Southern Company goon to shoot a .22 projectile into a perceived adversary’s bedroom window?

The U.S. Attorney of the Northern District of Alabama, Prim Escalona;U.S. Department of Justice leaders in Washington, D.C.; the Special Agent in Charge of the FBI office in Birmingham; investigators at the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, and officers at the Office of the Inspector General of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission have all been briefed on the retaliatory shooting against K.B. Forbes, CDLU’s Chief Executive Officer.

Forbes met in person yesterday afternoon with the FBI.

This is not the first time Forbes and his family have been targeted. He writes:

“Southern Company crossed a line when they targeted my family in the summer of 2020 and spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on a forensic colonoscopy of everything associated with my family, including the exportation of a princess bed for my then-three-year-old daughter. Now, what has happened is a criminal threat and an infringement of our Civil Rights. No one, and I mean no one, messes or threatens my family and young children. Southern Company ought to be ashamed about this disgraceful act of violence,” Forbes declared.

What about the evidence that has been gathered so far? Forbes provides a rundown:

The window that was hit is located several inches above the bedroom floor, but is located about 5 feet from the outside lawn.

The blue arrow in the picture to the left shows the 5-foot drop from the pierced window .

The trajectory of the projectile passed by the playground area in Forbes’ backyard. The shot, unequivocally, was targeted directly at the window, and not a fluke accident or ricochet

The lots behind Forbes’ home are higher and above Forbes’s lot, so the individual who took the shot would have had to climb down, behind the  Forbes home.

And why retaliate?

The CDLU has been working with investigators in multiple government agencies regarding Southern Company’s alleged criminal acts, illicit surveillance efforts, and gross misconduct.

But Tuesday’s story about Southern Company’s alleged surveillance operation of U.S. Department of Justice officials and then-U.S. Attorney Jay E. Town was beyond explosive. The alleged acts are felony crimes.

The last time Forbes' journalism appeared to prompt a shooting, the subject of the article was former Alabama Attorney General and U.S. Senator Luther Strange. Writes Forbes:

In 2021, a couple of days after ex-Drummond executive David Roberson testified about the $25,000 alleged bribe to former Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange in exchange for a letter to be sent to the EPA regarding the North Birmingham clean-up site, Roberson’s car window was shot out.

Strange’s official act in exchange for $25,000 appears to have been a felony crime, too.

To threaten those who write, talk, testify, or criticize Southern Company’s criminal enterprise, a .22 projectile sends an unwavering message of violence and physical harm, or possible death.

And Southern Company has the audacity to tell The Wall Street Journal that they have “moved on?”

Moved on?

Maybe moved on from misdemeanors to felonies.

Could evidence in the Forbes shooting wind up pointing to Luther Strange and former Alabama Governor Robert "Luv Guv" Bentley (best known for his sexcapades with highl-level staff aide Rebekah Caldwell Mason)? Longtime Strange aide and campaign manager Jessica Medeiros Garrison is another name to watch? 

We would not be surprised if evidence pointed in any, or all, of these directions. Strange and Bentley are longtime political compadres, and both vigorously opposed EPA designation of North Birmingham property as a Superfund site. In writing about Roberson's $75-million civil case brought by Shelby County attorney Burt Newsome, Forbes wrote the following in 2019:

Just a few months back, Balch and Bingham and Drummond Company were not concerned because Roberson’s criminal lawyers were paid by Drummond, and Balch’s grip on Jefferson County including federal probes was solid.

But all that changed when Roberson hired Burt Newsome as his civil lawyer. Newsome, who allegedly was wrongly targeted, falsely arrested, and defamed by Balch and Bingham, is running circles around the Balch posse.

U.S. Attorney Jay E. Town has been intentionally avoided and overlooked due to his ties to former U.S. Senator Luther Strange, Balch’s biggest stooge.

Instead, Roberson’s civil lawyer is working with federal investigators in Washington, D.C. and Capitol Hill senior staff, circumventing the political cronyism and corruption of Birmingham.

Further, Forbes wrote:

Our sources say management members at Alabama Power, Drummond Company, Thompson Tractor, and Balch & Bingham—corporate supporters of the AstroTurf and money-laundering entity Alliance for Jobs and the Economy that funneled more $360,000 in bribes to disgraced State Representative Oliver Robinson—appear to have possibly given incomplete testimony or even perjured themselves.

More interesting now are the five-figure campaign contributions (to investigators: alleged bribes) paid to Balch’s biggest stooge, Luther Strange, and ex-Governor Robert “Luv Guv” Bentley after signing the multiple ghost-written letters to the EPA against the North Birmingham expedited clean-up efforts.

The ghost-written letters were allegedly drafted by convicted felon and Balch-made millionaire Joel I. Gilbert.

As for Jessica Medeiros Garrison, she has documented ties to Luther Strange, "Luv Guv" Bentley, and Rebekah Caldwell Mason, and once served in an "of counsel" role at Balch & Bingham -- the law firm that gave birth to the North Birmingham scandal. Medeiros Garrison's connections to, and mysterious exit from, Balch & Bingham were not lost on the Project On Government Oversight (POGO), a D.C.-based watchdog group, which reported in March 2021:

Jessica Medeiros Garrison

[Jeffrey] Wood, [Ed] Haden, and other Balch lawyers spearheaded high-profile legal fights with the Obama-era EPA. Wood and Haden represented Republican members of Congress in a 2016 court filing siding with West Virginia as it fought EPA carbon emission standards at coal power plants. The lawsuit appeared to be coordinated by coal behemoth Murray Energy and the fossil fuel industry-funded Republican Attorneys General Association. RAGA’s executive director at the time, Jessica Medeiros Garrison, was simultaneously an attorney at Balch from 2011 through 2016. She has also worked for [Jeff] Sessions.


Anonymous said...

Funny. The sheriff’s department has this classified as suspected property mischief. Seems like if there was a sniper on the loose in a high end gated community it’d make the news…

legalschnauzer said...

@7:08 --

Thanks for sharing. Your comment brings a few thoughts to mind:

(1) In his own reporting, K.B. Forbes never has suggested there is a sniper on the loose in a gated community. in fact, Mr. Forbes has written that evidence suggests his house was targeted and for a specific reason -- one post that apparently hit too close to home for somebody/ (2) In defense of the media, if the sheriff's department classified the incident as "suspected property mischief," any reporter checking the records probably is going to think, "That doesn't sound like much of a story." If it was classified as a shooting into an occupied home, which is what it was, that is much more likely to be a story; (3) Are we talking about the Shelby County Sheriff's Office? If so, that explains a lot. It sounds like the department intentionally downplayed the incident, which is SOP in Shelby County, so it's essentially a coverup. Bham area has some bad law-enforcement agencies, and both Shelby and Jeffco sheriff's offices fit into that category.

legalschnauzer said...

Another thought occurs to me: (4) When Southern Company sent a group of fake protesters to Forbes' house in 2020, they terrorized the wrong family at the wrong address, across the street and adjacent to the Forbes home. The neighbor, petrified with her teenage daughter, called the Shelby County Sheriff's Department. She would not hang up until they arrived. The incident was listed as "miscellaneous."