Usually PR firms like to be behind the news, not in the headlines themselves. But Bonner & Associates – the D.C. Astroturf shop busted for mailing forged letters to Congress attacking the Waxman-Markey climate and energy bill on behalf of the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity – finds itself under the spotlight trying to save its tarnished brand.
The Wall Street Journal reports that Bonner continues to blame a rogue temporary employee for the forgeries, resurrecting an age-old PR maneuver - when caught with your pants down, blame the button maker. “It was a setup!” of course. No systemic pattern of shady behavior to see here!
Bonner has lawyered up, hiring veteran Akin Gump attorney Steven R. Ross, in another classic defensive posture often used to convolute the matter and issue veiled threats of countersuits to dissuade investigators from looking deeper into the muck. Attorney Ross claims that Bonner & Associates were victims in the scheme, overwhelmed by “being short-staffed and given the incredibly short time frame of this [two-week] project,” and therefore, according to Ross, “some letters were transmitted to Capitol Hill before they could be thoroughly reviewed.”
The Wall Street Journal reports that a spokesman for Bonner & Associates says the firm’s lawyers told the U.S. Attorney’s Office earlier this month in a letter that “if there was an investigation, it should probably focus on” the firm’s former temporary employee “because this individual perpetrated the fraud.”
Josh Nelson over at EnviroKnow.com sums up this charade well: “Now we are supposed to believe that this whole thing is some sort of nefarious plot by a temp employee to sully their (already completely sullied) reputation? … It is far easier to deflect responsibility for mistakes and shady business practices when you can blame everything on a temp, right?”
Jack Bonner and his ‘Associates’ are well known for specializing in Astroturf tactics – creating the appearance of grassroots support when in fact a corporate client often pays the firm to generate such ‘citizen outrage’ from the cubicles of D.C. area P.R. flacks. Temporary employees and interns are paid low wages to crank out phone calls and letters to Congress on behalf of a corporate client who cannot drum up enough genuine support for their Big Business agenda. Jack Bonner reportedly refers to his own firm as a “white collar sweatshop.”
B&A claims it was duped by this rogue temporary employee who answered an ad in the Capitol Hill newspaper Roll Call, and that the firm terminated the John Doe after only seven days on the job after he was ‘caught’ sending the fraudulent letters to Congress on behalf of elderly, women’s, black and Hispanic organizations (many of whom are outraged by the offensive tactic and urging an investigation).
So who is that masked man? Where is the rogue temporary employee to defend himself and shed light on the way Bonner’s shop operates?
You need to get your side of the story out, if in fact you do exist. If you are this elusive John Doe, or know of him, please drop us an email at [email protected] and we will help tell the other side of this saga.