Large corporations exercising the 'free speech' aspect of their newly minted 'personhood' to steamroll a regulator who dared to do his job....
The crony capitalism that pervades local politics where small 'investments' by large businesses pay off handsomely...
Entrenched energy monopolies who use their unassailable position to reap profits which they recycle to local pols to keep it that way....
Main characters with names like "Chip" Beeker and Twinkle Cavanaugh, yes that's her given name....
And it all unfolds in the deep red state of Alabama between two gop-er 'good-ol-boys' vying for a seat on the heretofore obscure Alabama Public Service Commission.
This GOP Regulator Questioned Energy Companies—So They Spent Almost $500,000 to Defeat Him
MONTGOMERY, Alabama -- When Terry Dunn came to Montgomery two years ago to take his seat on the Alabama Public Service Commission, the unsolicited advice from lobbyists, fellow Republicans, Democrats and political consultants was consistent.
"Just about everybody told me the same thing: Keep your head down; don't make waves. Go along to get along and you can get re-elected as many times as you want," said the 53-year-old Dunn.
So, what has Dunn done?
He's making waves. How? By pushing the PSC to do something it hasn't done in almost two decades: hold formal hearings.
That would mean putting the big utility companies it regulates -- Alabama Power, Alagasco and Mobile Gas -- under oath to determine why customers of the two natural gas companies are paying more in Alabama for gas than in Mississippi and why Georgia Power customers appear to be paying less for electricity than customers of Alabama Power.
Dunn's push for formal hearings has created a firestorm of opposition, especially from PSC President Twinkle Cavanaugh, who has called it among other things, a "half-baked" idea and a "full-frontal attack" by "environmental extremists" out to kill Alabama jobs.
Interest groups with names like JobKeeper Alliance have popped up and attacked Dunn and his chief of staff, David Rountree, charging that both men are in cahoots with "radical environmental groups" out to kill coal jobs in Alabama and shut down Alabama coal-fired power plants.
Dunn's reaction to all of those charges?
He shrugs his shoulders and in a low but steady voice says, "It's all a lie. None of it is true and those saying it know it."
The energy industry's chosen candidate is Chris "Chip" Beeker, a Republican challenging Dunn in the GOP primary. And there is no mistaking Beeker for an environmentalist: On his campaign website, Beeker claims the planet is cooling, not warming. "The so-called 'climate change crisis' is about as real as unicorns and little green men from Mars," he says.
Beeker's backers in Tuesday's race include Drummond Co., a global coal giant headquartered in Birmingham, which has given him $50,000; R.E.M. Directional, a drilling company near Tuscaloosa that donated $20,000; and ENPAC, a political action committee connected to the Alabama Coal Association that gave him $38,000. Two trade groups, the Alabama Coal Association and Manufacture Alabama, have endorsed Beeker, and big-name Republicans, including former Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour, have hosted fundraisers for him.