Fake Grassroots Letters Oppose Climate Bill

"As U.S. Rep. Tom Perriello was considering how to vote on an important piece of climate change legislation in June, the freshman congressman's office received at least six letters from two Charlottesville [Virginia]-based minority organizations voicing opposition to the measure," reports the Daily Progress. The letters were forged by a now-former employee of the Bonner & Associates lobbying firm, which specializes in "grassroots" campaigns. The groups whose names and stationery were used -- the Hispanic advocacy group Creciendo Juntos and the local branch of the NAACP -- expressed outrage. The local NAACP leader said his group supports the Waxman-Markey Climate Bill, because "clean energy creates jobs in the urban setting." Bonner & Associates previously carried out Astroturf campaigns for the pharmaceutical industry. The firm's current clients include BP, General Dynamics, Pfizer and the Financial Services Roundtable, according to Lobbyists.info. The firm's founder, Jack Bonner, said the forged letters were found through "internal checks" and are "contrary to our policies." He told the Washington Post that the firm has "no clients" lobbying on climate change. However, the Daily Progress noted that "a grassroots campaign might not require public disclosure of lobbying activities or clients." The New York Times later reported that the firm was working for a coal industry front group, the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity. Congressman Perriello voted for the climate change bill. "It's very unfortunate that opponents of this bill would resort to deception," his press secretary remarked.