Haley Barbour’s ties to Southern Co. questioned in Alabama PSC race

A candidate for Alabama’s utility regulatory board has lined up a fundraiser with former Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour, who helped to found a Washington lobbying firm that has represented the parent company of Alabama Power Co.

Republican Chip Beeker said Barbour is scheduled to appear at an Oct. 29 campaign event in Mountain Brook. Beeker is trying to unseat Republican incumbent Terry Dunn from the Public Service Commission. The primary is June 3.

With the exception of former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee helping PSC President Twinkle Andress Cavanaugh with an ad in 2012, it has been unusual for big-name politicians to get involved in a low-key, low-budget race like the PSC.

Beeker is proud of getting help from Barbour. “In the Deep South, we call it pretty high cotton,” he said Thursday. Beeker said the event was arranged through family members who are friends, and he was unaware of Barbour’s connection to the Atlanta-based Southern Co., which is the parent company of Alabama Power.

Dunn questioned Barbour’s involvement. “When you’ve got the lobbyist for the Southern Co., it tells where he’s headed. I think it would be unethical,” the incumbent said.

Alabama Power is the state’s largest electric utility and is regulated by the three-member PSC.