ACCCE Coal Lobby Drops Bonner & Associates Over Forged Letters

Fri, 2009-08-21 11:27Brendan DeMelle
Brendan DeMelle's picture

ACCCE Coal Lobby Drops Bonner & Associates Over Forged Letters

Like a bad habit, the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity (ACCCE) has dropped Bonner & Associates, the Astroturf lobbying firm led by Jack Bonner, whose “white collar sweatshop” forged at least a dozen letters to Congressmembers urging them to vote against the Waxman-Markey climate bill.

While ACCCE continues to claim that “this was an isolated incident involving the wrongdoing of someone working for a subcontractor” – an excuse first put forward by Jack Bonner, who blamed a rogue temporary employee for the forgeries – Congress is investigating the extent to which Bonner and ACCCE went to mislead lawmakers.

The fake letters were sent to at least three Democratic Congressmembers, and claimed to represent opposition to the climate legislation from nine different groups, including senior citizens’ organizations, Hispanic and women’s advocacy groups, and the NAACP.  So far, investigators have confirmed 13 forged letters sent to the three lawmakers, and dozens more letters are currently being probed to determine if they were authentic messages or more of Bonner’s forgeries.


The Select Committee for Energy Independence and Global Warming, led by Rep. Ed Markey (D-MA), has asked ACCCE to come clean about the letter writing campaign.  Despite the fact that ACCCE learned about Bonner’s forgeries two days before the critical vote on Waxman-Markey, the coal lobby group failed to notify the lawmakers who received the fake letters until long after the vote. Two of the three recipients, Pennsylvania Democratic Reps. Kathy Dahlkemper and Chris Carney, voted against the legislation, while the third, Virginia Rep. Tom Perriello, voted for it.

“The deliberate inaction prior to the House vote and the extended silence after the vote—some 40 days after ACCCE knew what had happened—raises serious concerns,” Rep. Markey wrote in a letter to ACCCE President and CEO Stephen L. Miller earlier this month.

Bonner & Associates has a long record of shady Astroturf work on behalf of many polluting industries, pharmaceutical companies and Big Tobacco.  Jack Bonner founded the firm in 1984 after a career in GOP politics, and built a reputation as the go-to Astroturf specialist, capable of creating the illusion of grassroots support for his corporate clients’ positions on a wide array of policy matters.

Senior Center, Inc., a Virginia elderly services group, says it felt “victimized” by the Bonner forgery on its letterhead.  NAACP representatives say they were “appalled” by the forged letter sent on their behalf by Bonner, and are “diametrically opposed” to its message.  NAACP Senior Vice President for Advocacy Hilary O. Shelton, said the Bonner forgery scheme “begs the question of how many times have they done this, to deceive the United States Congress.”

Chairman Markey and the Congress need to continue investigating ACCCE’s entire operation to see how many other instances of potential fraud and misrepresentation may exist.  Climate change poses a major national security threat to the U.S., as DeSmogBlog reported yesterday, and America needs to have an honest debate over how to craft a legislative action plan to confront the climate and energy challenges.  Forgery and Astroturf tricks have no place in that honest debate, and those responsible for these shenanigans should be held accountable.

Previous Comments

And do we know anything of Bonner’s other clients?

John,

A comment on:
Congress Discovers Another Forged Advocacy Letter
http://voices.washingtonpost.com/capitol-briefing/2009/08/congress_discovers_another_for.html?hpid=sec-politics
Rather helpfully gives this list, but there is no further information given apart from that below:

Quote
Bonner and Associates has for a long, long time labored under a rather dark cloud in terms of reputation. They have long been an employer of last resort. Anyone managing to get fired by an enterprise on this level should just leave town. Catch the next bus back to Podunk.
That being said Bonner was just a sub-contractor. I hear the ACCCE phoney front group is the brainchild of a third rate gang of hacks out of Alexandria run by yet another crazy alcoholic closeted pedo tethered to no moral or ideological hitching post. “We’re in it only for the money, honey! The whole thing is fake and the following should be very proud of their association:

Allegheny Energy, Inc.
Alliance Coal, LLC
Alstom Power
AMEREN Corporation
American Electric Power
Arch Coal, Inc.
Arkansas Electric Cooperative Corporation
Associated Electric Cooperative, Inc.
Basin Electric Power Cooperative
Berwind Natural Resources Corporation
BHP Billiton
BNSF Railway
Buckeye Industrial Mining Co.
Buckeye Power, Inc.
Bucyrus International, Inc.
Caterpillar Incorporated
Chevron Mining Inc.
CONSOL Energy Inc.
Consumers Energy
Crounse Corporation
CSX Corp.
Drummond Company, Incorporated
DTE Energy (Detroit Edison)
Duke Energy Corporation
E.ON U.S. Foundation Coal Corp.
Freightcar America, Inc.
GE Energy
International Coal Group
Jennmar Corporation
Joy Global Mining
Luminant
Midwest Generation
Mirant Corporation
Murray Energy Corporation
Natural Resource Partners L.P. Norfolk Southern Co.
Oglethorpe Power Corporation
Peabody Energy Corp.
Progress Energy, Incorporated
Seminole Electric Cooperative
SEP Corporation (Sunflower Electric)
Southern Company
Tri-state Generation & Transmission Assn. Inc.
Union Pacific Railroad
Western Fuels Association
Posted by: SoCali
Endquote

I certainly don’t recognise some of these, but a number are familiar. Some might deem this a list of the usual suspects! For example, at least two feature in the IREA letter.

IREA Quote ** my emphasis
…,There are other groups that are interested in the issue of global warming and the concerns about its costs. Koch industries is working with other large corporations, including *AEP* and the *Southern Company* on possibly financing a film that would counteract ‘An inconvenient Truth’. Koch has also decided to finance a coalition that very likely will be administered throughout the National Association of Manufacturers…,
IREA Endquote

Hope this helps,
CC

I recognize a fair number of them.
Most are no surprise.
The list is at ACCCE.

Maybe DeSMogBlog would like to poke Jeff Immelt about GE Energy, which is odd, since I think Immelt & GE are actually quite serious about ecomagination, i.e., as best as I can tell, that isn’t greenwashing alone.

John,
Murray Energy Corporation is a member of ACCCE, but is not on the list quoted originally. I don’t know if it means anything or not.
Hope this is useful,
CC

GE seems pretty exposed, and Immelt seems equally thin-skinned. Might be a good combination.