Coal lobby hires top GOP voter-fraud company to run massive “grassroots” efforts to undermine climate and clean energy action

This Think Progress post is a scary sequel to Memo to enviros, progressives: The deniers and dirty energy bunch are “full of passionate intensity” “” and eating our lunch on the climate bill!

lincolnstrategyThe coal industry lobbying outfit the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity (ACCCE) is pressing forward with an aggressive astroturfing campaign going after U.S. senators “” despite the recent revelation that it was responsible for forged “grassroots” letters to lawmakers, attacking the American Clean Energy and Security Act:

Paid staff will both call people already on the group’s list and talk to other people at public events, asking them if they want information or T-shirts or would be interested in asking a question at a town hall meeting. “This is the purest form of grassroots,” Lucas said. “It’s facilitating constituents to talk one-on-one with members of Congress.

The new project will use 225,000 volunteers dubbed “America’s Power Army.” They will visit town hall meetings, fairs and other functions attended by members of Congress and ask misleading questions about energy policy.

ThinkProgress has discovered that ACCCE has subcontracted its astroturf operations to the Lincoln Strategy Group, a GOP-tied firm notorious for voter fraud. The LinkedIn profile for Lincoln Strategies staffer Courtney Forrester reveals that her employer is engaged in a massive effort to recruit supporters on behalf of the coal industry. Steve Gates, communications director for ACCCE, told ThinkProgress that Lincoln Strategy Group ran their grassroots campaign last year as well.

The new firm managing the “grassroots” campaign for the coal industry has a history that distinguishes it as being one of the most notorious voter fraud organizations in the country:

– In Oregon and Nevada, Lincoln Strategies “” then known as Sproul and Associates “” was investigated for destroying Democratic voter registration forms. The Bush-Cheney 2004 presidential campaign paid Sproul $7.4 million for campaign work. [CNN, 10/14/04; KGW News, 10/13/04; East Valley Tribune, 09/07/06]

In Nevada, people who registered as Democrats with Lincoln Strategies “” then known as Sproul and Associates “” found their names absent from the voter registration rolls. [Reno Gazette-Journal, 10/29/04]

– During the 2006 midterm elections, Wal-Mart banned Lincoln Strategies for partisan voter registration efforts in Tennessee. The Republican National Committee had hired the firm. [Associated Press, 08/24/06]

– In Arizona, Lincoln Strategies employed a variety of deceptive tactics “” including systematically lying about the bill “” to push a ballot initiative to eviscerate the state’s clean elections law. [Salon, 10/21/04]

– Lincoln Strategies, then employed by the Republican Party, was behind efforts to place Ralph Nader on the ballot in states such as Arizona. [American Prospect, 06/25/04]

Even former Rep. Chris Cannon (R-UT), during a hearing on voter fraud, admitted that “the difference between ACORN and Sproul is that ACORN doesn’t throw away or change registration documents after they have been filled out.”

After the coal industry was caught red-handed stealing letterhead and forging fake letters in opposition to clean energy reform, they simply blamed their contractor “” a firm with a long track-record of providing exact type of astroturfing they were caught doing. Now with the coal industry hiring a firm with a long history of fraud and possible criminal activity (the Bush administration declined to ever investigate Sproul and his Lincoln Strategy firm), it is clear the industry is interested in defeating clean energy with deceit and purchased support.

14 Responses to Coal lobby hires top GOP voter-fraud company to run massive “grassroots” efforts to undermine climate and clean energy action

  1. Lou Grinzo says:

    Anyone who expected anything less than this seriously needs to figure out how the world works, ASAP.

    The deniers will do ANYTHING they think they can get away with, plus anything that has a penalty they’re willing to pay if caught, to fight any action to combat climate chaos.

    It’s not about “the truth” or “being right” or “doing what’s best for our kids”. These people are driven by greed (atthe top of their organizations) or a twisted ideology (at the rank and file level). They don’t care about you or anything or anyone you love. They have theirs, they’re on a mission, so screw everyone else.

    And worst of all, it will only get worse. The fossil fuel interests have so much riding on this that they won’t stop. They will fight like rabid, cornered rats. And they’ll have plenty of help from the media, from the right-wing talk shows to the mainstream clowns playing the faux balance game. The vast number of uneducated (on climate issues) mainstreamers who are “too busy” to get involved beyond reading a headline or feel they “don’t understand this science stuff” are the raw material that keeps the denier machine running.

    But their biggest ally in this information war is progressives who are sitting back, telling each other that they’ve already won (and I’ve received numerous e-mails from visitors to my site saying exactly this), and finding lots of reasons to do anything but get down in the trenches and fight. They think blogging to each other about it is “doing something”, and that “the truth will win in the end”, and other fairy tales. And the fossil fuel interests and their ideological water carriers couldn’t be happier about their (by which I mean your) misreading of the situation and lack of involvement.

  2. Robert says:


    Yes, you have presented a very potent document that i wish to pass on to my neighbors. Now i must just ACT by posting this document onto their mail boxes. I’ll report back in 30 days to let you know on its [Climate] PROGRESS!


  3. Jeff Huggins says:

    The media need to get on top of this, or I’ll lose my respect (what is left of it) for the media.

    At this point, on such a huge issue, and given that the vast majority of bona fide scientific organizations have spoken, the media (at a minimum) should shed immense light on this matter AND make sure that the public has a much better understanding of the climate change and CO2 problem in the first place. In addition, if the coal industry (and others) persist, in misleading ways, the media must ask whether they should even carry such nonsense. Indeed, especially when it comes to broadcast media, the law requires that broadcast media be run in such a way that is, in the end, consistent with the public good. Media entities who use the airwaves do so on a leased basis, subject to law, and that law includes a respect for the public good.

    On such important issues, misleading, confusing, twisting, and lying is NOT in the public good. Period.


  4. We can no longer excuse this as a business tactic to preserve a market for coal.

    By hiding behind the false curtain of denial, they escape the very real charge of species sabotage and suborning mass murder.

    Some may choose to walk away from such duplicitous, unethical tactics from such a toxic industry. This probably means industry messages will only become more devious and shrill.

    I would think coal industry stockholders should be called to account. Tough choices ahead.

  5. Jeff Huggins says:

    It is soon coming time to start boycotting the products and companies that support this stuff. For example, if I’m not mistaken (although please look it up on their websites to make sure), I think that the huge privately-held company “Koch” (pronounced as in coke, I believe) owns Georgia Pacific, the maker of many consumer goods you buy every day. Koch supports, based on what I’ve read, groups that try to deny/confuse/delay when it comes to climate change. They are also a very big refiner and piper of petroleum. Soon, it will be time to stop buying Georgia Pacific products. This would be the fair and sensible way for a “free market” to react, among other ways too. Time to sell your stock in these companies that are doing harm to the planet.

    There are many consumer brands that are owned by these companies, including the brands of gasoline of course. So, it’s getting very close — very — to the time when we should all stop buying those products. No joke.

    That includes some media brands and products too. Most of the media are not really, genuinely, doing their jobs to serve the public good on this issue. Time for them to start doing so, or let’s switch to other media.

    Be Well,


  6. Carl Chenery says:

    I notice the Linkedin Profile for Lincoln Strategies staffer Courtney Forrester has been removed.
    Did anyone get a screenshot before it was removed?


  7. AlexJ says:

    Hi Carl,

    Yes it has mysteriously disappeared. However, the Google cached version from July 25th still exists as I write this:

    Not sure how long this will be around before it expires, so I “printed” it to a pdf file as well, so I can review it later.

  8. Nancy says:


    The Koch family is a powerful group. One brother, Bill, is the money behind the Alliance for Nantucket Sound which is fighting the Cape Wind project in Massachusetts. The other brother, David (the 19th richest man in the world), is one of the people behind the disruption of the Town Hall Meetings around the health care issue, which was exposed on Rachel Maddow’s show last week. He is the chair of “Americans for Prosperity” which is busing people all across the country to attend these town hall meetings and disrupt them.

    I don’t know if the Cape Wind project will ever get built, because the Kochs know how to use the legal system to delay and obstruct and have the money to keep suing.

    As an aside, the Koch patriarch helped establish the John Birch Society.

    DeSmogBlog has a list of all the Koch companies,

  9. Klem says:

    Aha! I love it! You folks are sure freaking-out over these town hall meetings. What if the people at these meeting are there legitimately, rather than planted there by “Big Coal”? Ooooh scary. I’d say you folks understand that you’re losing! Ha! In your face!

    [JR: Yes, I understand that your side sees it as them winning vs. us “losing.” Future generations, however, will see it as your side winning and the next 100 billion people to walk the earth losing a livable climate. But you just go on rooting for your team as if the issue actually had no substance to it whatsoever — that’s what you all are best at any way.]

  10. Nancy says:

    From Paul Krugman’s column Aug. 6:

    “There was a telling incident at a town hall held by Representative Gene Green, D-Tex. An activist turned to his fellow attendees and asked if they “oppose any form of socialized or government-run health care.” Nearly all did. Then Representative Green asked how many of those present were on Medicare. Almost half raised their hands.”

    So, you tell me. Are these people the informed electorate or are they limbaugh-listeners who are paid to attend these meetings?

  11. J4zonian says:

    When will we realize it’s time for serious enough actions to actually prevent this kind of abuse?

    We need to impose capital punishment on corporations who engage in such outrageously destructive behaviors. The corporation should have its charter revoked and its assetts sold off; the board of directors and everyone who was involved in the decision-making should be fined some multiple of the amount they profited, imprisoned and banned from ever working in their field or participating in corporate decision-making again, and the money should be used to pay restitution to victims and to bolster laws and enforcement against both corporate crime and the legalized bribery that allows it to happen over and over.

    In no time at all, what little attention this issue gets will be verbatim repetitions of the PR campaign launched to deny, minimize, and obscure the crime. We know that because it’s what happens every time this cycle repeats. We have to prevent that or it will happen again, starting immediately. Write to your elected officials, protest creatively enough to media attention, and don’t stop until this stops.

  12. JRW says:

    Those persuaded that the peril from organized subversion of elections is paramount among our most pressing concerns pefer applying the term “electoral fraud” to Lincoln Strategies’ shenanigans.

    Failure to investigate “voter fraud” was the rationale for the US Attorney firings that surfaced during congressional investigations of the Bush Justice Department.

    For years the GOP has alleged widespread fraudulent registration impacts on election outcomes, a contention that has never been proved.

    Electoral fraud is the catagory reserved by reform advocates to distinguish from implausible GOP claims that voters constitute a greater threat to democracy than corporations.

  13. JRW says:

    By remarkable coincidence today’s NY Times tells the tale:

  14. cal mason says:

    Rush Limbaugh loves GM cars and says so on his program.
    GM pays him well to say so.

    Rush Limbaugh says climate change is a hoax.
    Climate change might be disputed but it can not be a ‘hoax’
    The only reason for him to say something so ridiculous is,

    the coal companies pay him well to say so.