Big Power Company Hit With Strange Spy Scandal

Former Southern Co. exec and his girlfriend were under surveillance
By Steve Huff,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 2, 2023 11:41 AM CDT
Big Power Company Hit With Strange Spy Scandal
   (Getty Images / Andrey Popov)

When you think of one of the largest power providers in the country, Georgia-based Southern Co., it's unlikely that any cloak-and-dagger escapades come to mind. But in a detailed report by Katherine Blunt of the Wall Street Journal, things are that strange. Southern has been dealing for over a year or so with a "peculiar espionage effort," writes Blunt. The company has yet to explain the situation to consumers, but the surveillance, focused on now-former CEO Tom Fanning, came to light last year as part of a lawsuit between two consultants who work for a company that contracts with Alabama Power, a subsidiary of Southern. The suit alleged that Alabama Power ordered the surveillance of Fanning "in order to possibly gain internal leverage," per the Journal.

Much is murky, however. Southern conducted its own investigation into all of the above but says it hasn't been able to figure out who ordered the spying or why. (Private investigators followed Fanning's mundane activities and logged visits to his girlfriend.) The lawsuit, however, provided some possible clues before it was settled. One of the consultants alleged that the other conducted the surveillance at the behest of Alabama Power execs in order to influence decision on major corporate decisions that were pending. The head of Alabama Power, Mark Crosswhite, "abruptly" announced his retirement amid the Southern investigation, even though he had been a prime candidate to replace the retiring Fanning, per the Journal. Crosswhite declined to comment on the convoluted tale. Read the full story. (Or check out other longforms.)

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