The top coal lobbying coalition in Washington, D.C. hid its knowledge of “fraudulent grassroots lobbying” while Congress voted against clean energy legislation on June 26, 2009. A background document from the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity (ACCCE) reveals that it learned two days before the vote on Waxman-Markey that Bonner & Associates had sent a dozen forged letters opposing the American Clean Energy and Security Act to at least three members of the House of Representatives:
Due to reported misconduct by a Bonner and Associates employee (who the firm states was subsequently fired), it appears that a total of twelve falsified letters were sent by that firm to the offices of Congresswoman Kathy Dahlkemper, Congressman Christopher Carney and Congressman Tom Perriello. Based upon information ACCCE received from the Hawthorn Group, it was Bonner and Associates’ own internal process that identified these falsified letters and it was Mr. Bonner who first brought this to the attention of the Hawthorn Group. ACCCE was then made aware of the situation by Hawthorn on June 24, 2009.
Two of the three members targeted by ACCCE — Rep. Kathy Dahlkemper (D-PA) and Rep. Chris Carney (D-PA) — voted against the bill on June 26th. However, despite its knowledge of this potentially criminal fraud, ACCCE said nothing until Rep. Perriello’s hometown paper, the Charlottesville Daily Progress, broke the story more than a month later on July 31st. On August 3rd, ACCCE released a statement that they were “outraged by the conduct of Bonner and Associates.”
Mirroring arguments made in the forged letters, Dahlkemper argued that “hardworking families simply cannot afford the additional costs that this legislation would impose on them” and Carney attacked the bill for “burdening hard-working Americans with a tax increase and without passing along increased energy bills to consumers.”
ACCCE, which spent $10.5 million last year lobbying Congress against mandatory limits on coal’s global warming pollution, refuses to admit which grassroots organizations in Pennsylvania were the victims of fraud in the letters sent to Dahlkemper and Carney.