Alabama Commissioner Chip Beeker’s catfish farm loans campaign $100,000 after receiving PPP pardon

An Alabama utility regulator is funding his re-election campaign with a loan from his private farm, which received hundreds of thousands of dollars in federal grants, despite the regulator’s frequent criticism of “the excesses of the federal governmentin his election campaigns.

Alabama Civil Service Commissioner Chris “Chip” Beeker Jr. owns the Beeker catfish and cattle farm. The farm loaned Beeker’s campaign $100,000 on May 10, 2022, according to to the Alabama Secretary of State’s campaign finance records.

Beeker Catfish and Cattle Farm has received a $45,600 Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan in April 2020, and the government had forgiven $46,078 (including accrued interest) as of April 27, 2021, according to to ProPublica’s PPP tracker.

Beeker’s farm also received at least $120,883 in farm subsidies since 1995, 80% of them in the years after his first election in 2014, according to the firm EWG grants database.

Beeker has often criticized the federal government, including the former president Obama’s Clean Energy Plan. He made the fight against the federal government central part of his campaigns since at least 2014.

Beeker did not respond to questions from the Energy and Policy Institute (EPI) about the grants.

Another entity from which Beeker derives revenue, Alabama Catfish Feedmill LLC, had $224,797 waived through the PPP, as of November 5, 2020. The company does not list Beeker as an owner, but Beeker’s 2021 Declaration of Economic Interest . deposit with the Alabama Ethics Commission disclosed $10,000 to $49,999 in company revenue.

Other contributions to Beeker from coal interests, Alabama Power related manufacturers

Beeker’s campaign has only received four non-PAC contributions since the start of 2019, including his farm’s $100,000 loan to the campaign. Non-PAC contributions included $10,000 from JJ Kane, an auto auctioneer whose website listing as a seller of used cars, trucks, utility and construction equipment from Alabama Power’s fleet; $5,000 from the Alabama Coal Cooperative, which provides coal at Alabama Power’s EC Gaston plant; and $2,500 from George Clark, the President from Alabama manufacturing. Manufacture Alabama supported Alabama Power posts to the Alabama Public Service Commission and public service has been a funder of Manufacture Alabama, including as a “diamond sponsor” of the group’s annual meeting last year (the highest level available).

Beeker is currently running for re-election and will face the Republican challengers Robin Litaker and Robert McCollum in the May 24, 2022 primary. No Democrats qualified for the race.

Phone records: Beeker rarely uses office phone, government cell phone

Phone records from the year 2020, obtained by EPI through a public records request, showed Beeker rarely used his desk phone and state-issued cell phone. Beeker made a single nine-minute phone call from his office that year, on August 24. The COVID-19 pandemic limited desktop usage for many government agencies for much of 2020, but according to According to records, Beeker’s government cell phone also averaged just under nine minutes per month and also averaged less than one text message sent per month.

Beeker did not respond to questions from EPI about how he communicates with key stakeholders and his constituents other than through his voice calls on his desk phone or government cell phone, or text messages. on this cell phone.

Each commissioner makes a salary of $103,490 per year.

Beeker’s Solar Lease Proposal Rejected by Alabama Ethics Commission

Beeker sought the opinion of the Alabama Ethics Commission regarding a possible solar lease on his farm, despite his declared preference for coal and gas. The ethics committee vote 3-2 in September 2016 to stop Beeker from reaching a deal with a solar company that would have paid him $225,500 a year and $5.6 million over 25 years. The solar company hoped to sell power to Alabama Power, an entity regulated by the Public Service Commission. Beeker’s attorney at the time said he was disappointed with the decision.

Shortly after Beeker was elected in 2014, his son, Chris Beeker III, took a job with Steele and Associates, a utility recruiting firm that lists Southern Company as a customer, as a first reported by Eddie Curran, a critic of Beeker and Alabama Power’s influence on the PSC. Chris Beeker III was appointed in November 2017 to serve as Alabama’s Director of Rural Development for the United States Department of Agriculture under the Trump administration.

Photo sources: Youtube

Comments are closed.