Here are two follow-ups to DC lobbying firm (Bonner) forged anti-Waxman-Markey letters from minority groups to Rep. Perriello (D-VA) “” former employee says firm “Just got caught this time.” The first, by Wonk Room, identifies Bonner’s dirty corporate client.
The coal industry’s top front group has admitted to hiring Bonner & Associates to block clean energy reform. The American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity (ACCCE), a public-relations juggernaut funded by electric utilities, mining corporations, and other coal interests to derail mandatory limits on global warming pollution, “acknowledged” paying for Bonner’s “outreach” fraud “” the forging of letters from civil rights organizations opposing the American Clean Energy and Security Act:
The group American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity acknowledged this afternoon that it had contracted Bonner & Associates earlier to perform “limited outreach,” but the advocacy group denounced the firm’s actions.
ACCCE’s choice of Bonner comes a little surprise, as Bonner has built a reputation as one of the most effective and amoral Astroturf companies inside the Beltway, having generated “grassroots” campaigns on behalf of the tobacco and pharmaceutical industries.
When not paying for Astroturf fraud, ACCCE was the top lobbyist on climate change and clean energy last year, spending $10.5 million on powerhouse lobbyists such as the Podesta Group and Guinn Gillespie. ACCCE has been praised for the “sophistication” of its public message of supporting mandatory emissions limits in theory while virulently opposing the passage of any actual legislation.
In addition, ACCCE has a $20 million budget for online campaigns for “shaping public attitudes” in favor of coal, has run tens of millions of dollars of television and radio ads, has handed out “clean coal” t-shirts and baseball caps, and even promoted “Frosty the Coalman” carols.
UPDATE: TP has updated its post“Ghost Letters.” Here’s the original:
Bonner & Associates, has a decades-long history of “astroturfing” — misrepresenting corporate-backed policy as a real grassroots movement. ThinkProgress just received a letter indicating that more anti-clean energy letter forgeries may be out there.
Joseph Richardson received a letter from Sen. Kent Conrad (D-ND) in reply to a letter that he never sent:
Richardson never wrote such a letter, and he never would. Calling himself a “vocal member” of the North Dakota Alliance for Renewable Energy, Richardson told ThinkProgress that he is an ACES supporter and even wrote a letter to Rep. Earl Pomeroy (D-ND) calling on the congressman to support clean energy reform.
The forged letter was likely a result of astroturfing. Conrad’s letter was delivered to an out-of-date address that Richardson hadn’t used for months. According to Richardson, Conrad’s office is currently in the process of tracking down the original letter they received. See the full letter Senator Conrad’s office sent to Richardson….
A note to the astroturf groups: next time you decide to forge a letter, try doing a Google search to make sure your target hasn’t publicly stated their opposition to your agenda.
Here is the update:
A spokesperson from Sen. Conrad’s office just contacted Think Progress stating that this incident was a result of a miscategorized correspondence, not a forged letter.According to the spokesperson, Conrad’s staff tracked down an email late tonight from Mr. Richardson. The Senate office mistakenly categorized Richardson’s email as opposing clean energy reform. As a result, he received an incorrect form letter in response.
When Think Progress first contacted Mr. Richardson, he indicated that he had never sent a letter regarding ACES, but according to Senator Conrad’s office, he now takes ownership over the original correspondence. Think Progress has requested a copy of the original email from the Senate office and will post it if it becomes available.
This may well prove to be a cautionary tale for climate and clean energy activists. It may be that Richardson was (correctly) critical of the renewable energy provisions as being too weak and so his letter was (mistakenly) categorized as opposing the bill. I very much look forward to seeing the original letter.