Standing up to a powerful (no pun intended) entity can already be a difficult endeavor, but electric companies in Alabama and Florida are accused of using their wealth to make it even harder, by using media connections to attack and silence critics.
We reported earlier this year that Florida Power & Light (FPL) was accused of funding red-herring candidates for Florida’s state Senate, in order to divert votes and give Governor Ron DeSantis a filibuster-proof majority to push through appointees.
Now, along with Alabama Power, the utility is accused of using a firm called Matrix to funnel funding to media that drives attacks on critics of their pricing and policies.
One former Alabama political candidate, Terry Dunn, claims that Alabama Power is behind a smear campaign aimed at (and successful at) removing him from office nearly a decade ago.
He’s made the connection to Matrix LLC and says that both Matrix and Alabama power refuse to say what kind of work the consulting firm is doing for the utility, but that he theorized they may be funneling money to PACs and media entities who carry out political attacks on anyone who would impose regulations or limits.
There’s no question that candidates and public figures who endorse renewable energy sources, carbon footprint reduction, and environmentalism overall are bound to be attacked and mocked.
Remember, Republicans even made cruel jokes about Greta Thunberg, a teenager who dared to speak out about trying to do a better job of preserving the earth for another generation.
Dunn, however, says that he thinks some of these attacks are secretly funded by big power companies.
He says that when he tried to address why Alabama residents were paying so much for electricity, media outlets started running columns calling him a Democrat.
“These were devastating portrayals for Dunn in a deeply red state…Eight years after Dunn’s defeat, Alabama has still not held a rate hearing on electricity prices,” NPR reported.
Mr. Dunn Goes To Montgomery, a blog focused on an attempted investigation into the matter, asserts that two political non-profits with ties to Matrix, PAL and Vote Alabama, have been raking in millions — and he thinks the power company’s contract with Matrix is providing part of that funding.
Energy & Policy shares a similar set of allegations against power companies and a different alleged middleman, Jobkeeper Alliance, in both Florida and Alabama.
“Both of Jobkeeper’s known funders, People’s Alliance for Leadership and Vote Alabama, have also funded other utility groups, like Energy Fairness, formerly known as the Partnership for Affordable Clean Energy, which has advocated on behalf of Florida’s utilities against ballot initiatives that threatened their monopolies…JobKeeper is also associated with Matrix LLC, a public relations firm that has been funded by utilities with a reputation of using aggressive tactics to intimidate opponents of its clients.”
What does it all add up to? An incomplete picture, but one that hints at dark money funding plots to keep power companies and their monopolies protected.
Ultimately, the victims are the customers — and the planet.
Steph Bazzle covers politics and theocracy, always aiming for a world free from extremism and authoritarianism. Follow Steph on Twitter @imjustasteph.