Scandal Erupts Over Forged Anti-Climate Bill Letters


Photo via Federal News Radio

How low can you go? I mean, I know we're talking about the coal industry here, but see if this does anything for you: details are continuing to emerge about how a coalition of coal companies hired a lobbying firm that mailed forged letters--supposedly from civil rights groups like the NAACP--to Representatives getting ready to cast a vote on the climate bill. The letters denounced the climate bill, and urged the congressmen to vote against it. And they were entirely fake. From Green Inc:

Outrage — and details — continue to flood in over a lobby group's forgery of letters advocating against Congressional climate legislation. Forged letters to several Congressmen, purportedly from minority groups like the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, were apparently sent by Bonner and Associates.
And since it's never that simple in Washington, this is only the first step in a very real web of corruption that seems designed to keep meddlers off the trail:
Bonner, it seems, was doing subcontract work for another firm called the Hawthorn Group, which in turn was working for the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity (A.C.C.C.E.), a group of companies involved with coal, including coal producers, utilities and railroads.
Now, the coalition of coal companies has denounced the tactics used by Bonner, and so has Hawthorn--the group claims it has terminated its work with Bonner. And for its part, Bonner claims the forged letters were the work of a rogue employee who's since been fired.

I leave it up to your intuition to decide whether or not that's an acceptable explanation. The forgeries are still being investigated, and further details about the case may emerge. But certain facts are fishy--like a report that surfaced noting that the ACCCE knew about the forgery at least two days before the critical vote on the climate bill took place. So even if certain coal companies weren't actually involved in the forgery operation, it seems they knew it was taking place and didn't bother to speak up about it. And this seems to be a best case scenario to me.

When Talking Points Memo spoke to a former Bonner employee,

[The former employee] portray[ed] Bonner and Associates as a place where ethical missteps were far from rare. "They just got caught this time," he said.
Not exactly encouraging. I'll certainly be curious to see what the inquiry into the forgeries uncovers.

More on the Climate Bill:
Could the Senate Pass the Climate Bill, then Reject a Global Treaty?
Why Passing the Climate Bill is an Ethical Necessity

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