It’s turning into Astroturf August. Hot on the heels of the revelations about the fake oil industry PR campaign, comes the fake coal PR campaign.
We knew that the fossil fuel industry would not give up without a fight, but we did not realise that had turned into such fossil fools, by have all their devious practices exposed and therefore backfiring big-time.
An ongoing investigation by the Waxman-Markey committee has now uncovered a further five fraudulent letters sent to Congress in the run up to the Climate Bill.
The new revelations are due to their ongoing investigation into the letters sent by Bonner & Associates a so-called “astroturf” group.
Bonner and Associates were subcontracted by the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity (ACCE) , to try and influence Congress on the Climate Bill. The letters were staged to appear as if they were sent by groups representing senior citizen services like the non-profit Erie Center on Health & Aging.
Many more letters could have been sent, and the Chairman of the Comittee, Ed Markey yesterday called on ACCCE and Bonner & Associates to fully verify whether the remaining several dozen letters were also sent under false pretences.
Bonner and Associates are now trying the old-chestnut defence that he fake letters were just the antics of a “rogue-employee” who has now conveniently been sacked, the evidence is beginning to stack up that it was far more sophisticated.
“We’ve seen fear-mongering with our nation’s senior citizens with health care, and now we’re seeing fraud-mongering with senior citizens on clean energy,” said Chairman Markey.
The forged letters are part of a bigger $1 million PR campaign by ACCCE and its PR company the Hawthorn Group for lobbying around the Climate Bill. Hawthorn subcontracted some of its work to Bonnner and Associates.
The PR project intends to use 225,000 volunteers dubbed “America’s Power Army,” who will visit town hall meetings, fairs and other functions attended by members of Congress and ask questions about energy policy. In addition to the “citizen army,” ACCE is also considering billboard and other advertisements.
Will those be fake too?