As featured on p. 218 of "Bloggers on the Bus," under the name "a MyDD blogger."

Monday, August 03, 2009

Constituent Letter Grifting

Last week, we learned about astroforging, the practice of corporate lobbyists forging letters from local advocacy groups that line up with corporate goals. More evidence has been uncovered today showing the widespread nature of this practice.

Joseph Richardson received a letter from Sen. Kent Conrad (D-ND) in reply to a letter that he never sent:

Richardson never wrote such a letter, and he never would. Calling himself a “vocal member” of the North Dakota Alliance for Renewable Energy, Richardson told ThinkProgress that he is an ACES supporter and even wrote a letter to Rep. Earl Pomeroy (D-ND) calling on the congressman to support clean energy reform.

Bonner and Associates, the company nailed initially, has been engaged in this deception for well over 20 years. And as long as they got away with it, I'm sure they'd continue. It turns out that Bonner is linked to the clean coal lobby:

The Sierra Club today urged Attorney General Eric Holder to launch an investigation into the activities of a lobbying firm that has been linked to fake letters urging Rep. Tom Perriello (D-Va.) to vote against the climate bill [...]

The request stems from a newspaper report last week that Bonner & Associates sent letters to Perriello's office that were made to look as if they came from Creciendo Juntos, a Charlottesville-based Hispanic advocacy group. Perriello staffers also received similarly worded letters that were designed to look as if they came from the Albemarle-Charlottesville branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.

The letters, which urged Perriello to oppose the House climate bill ( H.R. 2454 ), used the letterhead of the two groups but were signed by individuals who are not affiliated with the organizations ( E&ENews PM , July 31).

The group American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity acknowledged this afternoon that it had contracted Bonner & Associates earlier to perform "limited outreach," but the advocacy group denounced the firm's actions.

It's insane that Democratic lawmakers are going out of their way to label the August recess as "consequential" for health care based on the reaction of constituents in districts, when this nasty little episode shows how it's all just theater and lies.

UPDATE: Think Progress has corrected this story. Conrad's office miscategorized their response letter. The Perriello set of letters, however, are certainly real, which is to say fake. Brad Johnson has more.

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