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  • Writer's pictureDonald V. Watkins

Kim Tanaka: An Innocent Victim in the Southern Company’s Spying Program and Web of Deceit

Updated: Apr 30

By: Donald V. Watkins

Copyrighted and Published on April 24, 2023

IMAGE: Southern Company CEO Thomas A. Fanning with girlfriend Kimberly Tanaka in 2017 (left), and with wife Sarah Loudon Novascone, who he married in 2018 (right).

On September 22, 2022, Kimberly Tanaka finally had enough of the Southern Company’s corporate surveillance program that had turned her life upside-down since 2017. Tanaka called police to a location in Metro-Atlanta to report a “stalking incident.”


While visiting AFPI Global Investigations in Atlanta, Tanaka and her private investigators found a GPS tracking device with a magnet under her car. She was livid.

IMAGE: Kimberly Tanaka is a professionally trained and very credentialed fitness professional.

Officer R.C. Hulon (ID #754) responded to the call. After interviewing Kim Tanaka, Hulon generated a police report (Case No. 2209-000894) for the Roswell, Georgia police department. The relevant section of the full report is excerpted below.

Kim Tanaka told Officer Hulon that she worked at a fitness gym and that some of her clients were "VIPs." She further advised Hulon that “she believes they are trying to get to one of those VIPs through her.”


Tanaka was advised that the matter would be turned over to the Criminal Investigation Division. Investigator C. White (ID #121) was assigned to the case. Office L. Davidson (ID #779) was assisting the investigation. The GPS device was taken into evidence.


Kim Tanaka was Caught Up in a Planned Coup D’etat at the Southern Company


Kim Tanaka was right when she told Officer Hulon that the culprits were trying to get to one of her VIP clients, by all means necessary. What is more, Tanaka was not the only innocent victim of the espionage operation.


In April of 2017, Kim Tanaka was the girlfriend of Southern Company CEO Thomas A. Fanning. That year, certain Southern Company executives in Birmingham, who were aided and abetted by James Y. "Jim" Kerr, II (who was the Southern Company's executive vice president, general counsel, chief compliance officer, and chief of staff to Fanning at the time), were plotting to overthrow Fanning and install Alabama Power Company CEO Mark Crosswhite as the new CEO of the Southern Company.


Kerr, a close friend and corporate ally of Crosswhite, greenlighted the surveillance operation against Kim Tanaka. Had the planned coup succeeded, Kerr would have had his pick of any CEO position of his choosing at a Southern Company affiliate.


The coup plotters believed that Fanning engaged in a private lifestyle in Atlanta that would make him vulnerable to a forced resignation if they could document graphic evidence of this lifestyle and expose it to the company's board of directors and public.


Kim Tanaka is the woman referenced in the April 6, 2017 “Homewood Notes” as “Kim Tananka.” She is the woman the coup d’etat plotters (Crosswhite and Kerr), their espionage vendor (Matrix, LLC), and private investigator (Derek Uman, founder of Clear Capture Investigations of Gainesville, Florida) “needed more intel” on.

The coup plotters got plenty of “intel” on Kim Tanaka. They also spied on Sarah Louden Novascone, who became Fanning’s wife in 2018.


In April of 2017, Kim Tanaka was an innocent party who held no position in any Southern Company business entity. Without her knowledge or consent, Tanaka was targeted for a blitzkrieg of clandestine surveillance activities, all of which were financially sponsored by the Southern Company.


The Espionage Program that Targeted Kim Tanaka was Quite Extensive


After the April 6, 2017, meeting documented in the “Homewood Notes,” Southern Company’s coup d’etat executives and their espionage crew went to work on Kim Tanaka. These operatives publicly claimed to have expertise in “audio intercept,” “methods of entry,” and “executive exfiltration.”


Beginning in May of 2017, the espionage crew hired Kristen Hentschel, a Florida-based free-lance field producer for ABC News and “several PR firms in different states, non-profit organizations and private companies to investigate stories, interview subjects and provide information and materials and footage to whomever she is working for.”


Hentschel was paid to develop a close personal friendship with Kim Tanaka, a professional and very credentialed fitness trainer at an Atlanta area gym. Even though Hentschel was living out of state, she succeeded in becoming one of Tanaka’s best friends and confidants. They even vacationed together.


In this audio clip with a female investigator, Kristen Hentschel describes Kim Tanaka’s reaction upon learning about the Southern Company's surveillance of her for the first time in June 2022:

Tom Fanning, who cut off all telephone contact with Tanaka in late 2017, desperately tried to reach her after she contacted Fanning via email about a call she received from a Bloomberg News reporter (Josh Saul) who was in the mix with the spy operatives who planted Kristen Hentschel within Tanaka's friendship circle.


Remarkably, Fanning confessed to Tanaka, via a reply email, that he knew about the surveillance, but he did not say when or how he learned about it. Tanaka refused to accept Fanning's repeated phones calls to discuss the matter, but she saved his voice messages in which he pleaded with Tanaka to call him back.


Kristen Hentschel is the former mistress of How To Catch a Predator host Chris Hansen, whom she claimed fooled her into believing he was leaving his then-wife years ago. At the time, she went by the name of Kristyn Caddell.


National Public Radio Busted Hentschel in December 2022


This is how National Public Radio described the surveillance activity on Kim Tanaka in a December 21, 2022, article titled, “She was an ABC News producer. She also was a corporate operative:”


“Hentschel's work stretched beyond Florida politicians and news conferences.

This past June, fitness instructor Kim Tanaka was sitting poolside at an upscale hotel in Atlanta when a reporter for Bloomberg News called with a startling question: Did Tanaka know that she had been spied on five years prior?


Tanaka's boyfriend during that period was Tom Fanning, the CEO of energy giant Southern Company — a direct competitor of Florida Power & Light. The couple broke up in late 2017.


The reporter, Josh Saul, laid out the material he'd obtained in a leaked Matrix dossier, which included private information about her, Tanaka recalls.


‘It made me feel mad. Definitely violated. And anxious,’ Tanaka says.


Bloomberg never published a story. A private investigator confirmed to AL.com this year that he had surveilled Tanaka and Fanning five years ago for Matrix…..


But there was another shocker in the dossier. It didn't just contain old information pertaining to Tanaka — it contained recent and sensitive information about Fanning's wife, whom he married after breaking up with Tanaka. To Tanaka, it meant the spying had continued as recently as this year.


A friend was sitting alongside Tanaka in June as she took Saul's call: Kristen Hentschel.

In late 2021, Hentschel had hired Tanaka at an Atlanta gym to be her personal trainer, even though there's no record of Hentschel living in Georgia. The two became close, even vacationing together.


Another former Matrix operative, Paul Hamrick, had also hired Tanaka as his trainer the same week as Hentschel, according to emails reviewed by Floodlight and NPR. Tanaka says she told Hentschel and Hamrick private details found in the dossier and doesn't know if they or someone else spied on her. Hentschel remains a good friend, Tanaka says, and a lot of fun.


Floodlight and NPR have not been able to independently verify whether Hentschel or Hamrick were hired by Pitts or Pitts' new firm to monitor Tanaka or whether they monitored Tanaka. In a note sent this summer to an associate, Hentschel wrote she was still working for Pitts.”


In the aftermath of the NPR article, we have: (a) unearthed the role that Jim Kerr played in the coup d’etat, (b) discovered the continuing nature and scope of the Southern Company's espionage and surveillance program, (c) exposed the Southern Company’s use of mainstream media connections like Bloomberg News’ Josh Saul, and (d) discovered the “hush money payments" the Southern Company has made to multiple victims in its espionage schemes and racketeering enterprises.


Matrix's owner, Joe Perkins, and the company's former CEO, Jeff Pitts, parted ways in December of 2020. The timeline of events in this article runs from April 6, 2017 through December of 2022.


On March 13, 2023, an attorney for Kristen Hentschel asserted that the NPR article was defamatory and demanded a retraction. NPR has made no retraction to date.


The Southern Company’s “Hush Money” Payments to Tanaka Were Never Reported to State or Federal Regulators, or Law Enforcement Officials


After learning that she was the victim of a Southern Company surveillance program, Ms. Tanaka threatened to sue the Southern Company for violating her right to privacy. Tom Fanning and Jim Kerr promptly resolved Tanaka’s legal claims. However, they did so in a clandestine manner and in amounts that evaded the company’s reporting requirements on its 10-Q and 10-K regulatory filings.


Instead, the payments to Kim Tanaka are/were laundered through a Southern Company vendor. These payments are the subject of an upcoming article.


In addition to Kim Tanaka, Kristen Henstchel received “hush money’ payments, as well. Again, the money was laundered through a Southern Company vendor to avoid detection.


When former president Donald J. Trump laundered “hush money” payments through Attorney Michael Cohen to porn actress Stephanie Gregory Clifford, a/k/a Stormy Daniels, those payments got Trump indicted on 34 felony counts in a New York state court. Trump used his private corporation's money for his "hush money" payments. In Kim Tanaka's case, the Southern Company, a publicly traded company, reportedly used ratepayer money for its "hush money" payments.


I plan to amend the criminal complaint I filed on August 13, 2023 with Fulton County, Georgia District Attorney Fani T. Willis to add a claim of “hush money” payments using Southern Company funds without proper authorization and disclosure.


We are continuing our investigation into this matter to determine whether board members knew about the “hush money” payments, approved them, and failed to disclose these payments on the company’s 10-Qs and 10-Ks in order to conceal the corporately sanctioned and financially sponsored espionage program that terrorized innocent victims like Kim Tanaka.


Stay tuned!

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