Front Porch Blog

ACCCE Finally Comes “Clean”

At Least 3 Members of Congress Received Forged Letters from Disgraced Firm

There have been some very interesting developments since we first posted about Bonner and Associates fraudulent attempt at influencing votes on climate legislation. There is a great rundown at Enviroknow and I suggest you check out the whole thing, but the bottom line is that things have really taken a turn for the worst for Bonner. Sierra Club has been absolutely relentless, doing doing a major beltway ad buy, and asking Attorney General Eric Holder and the DOJ to look into the case in the event that further forgeries took place. MoveOn has an online petition encouraging action by the DOJ.

It has also come to light that on behalf of “c@$#n coal” industry front group ACCCE (of singing coal caroler fame) that the former Bonner employee sent at least 12 letters asking members to oppose climate legislation. Six of those letters were to Congressman Perriello (D-VA-05), but Perriello eventually voted for the bill. The other letters went to Pennsylvania Blue Dog Chris Carney (D-PA-10) and freshman Kathy Dahlkemper (D-PA-03), who each of them voted against the bill.

Enviroknow notes:

This raises the very real possibility that Members of Congress were influenced by fraudulent letters paid for by the coal industry, and voted against environmental regulation as a result of this influence. Given the razor thin margin and last-minute negotiations surrounding the House vote, this was a clear attempt by both Bonner and Associates and ACCCE to subvert the Democratic process. Now, we can’t say for with 100% certainty that fraudulent letters persuaded any particular Member of Congress to oppose the legislation, but that was certainly the intent. To make matters worse, the background document includes ACCCE’s less-than-inspiring “belief” that the fraudulent letters were limited to the three congressional districts mentioned previously

NRDC meanwhile, is hot on the tail of “c@#$n coal” industry front group ACCCE, who admitted yesterday to being the offending clients of Bonner and Associates. NRDC notes that ACCCE made a $10.5 milion amendment to their lobbying report forms for the 2nd quarter, and Pete Altman wonders aloud if that change had anything to do with Bonner.

Congressional allies are pursuing the case as well. Senator John Kerry posted at DailyKos yesterday about the incident, and not only has Representative Markey sent a harshly worded letter to Jack Bonner with 14 poignant questions, but Markey’s Subommittee stands at the ready with subpoena powers.

ACCCE comes clean, admits to being Bonner client

ACCCE Statement Regarding Falsified Constituent Contacts Made to Congressional Offices by Bonner and Associates
August 03, 2009
Contact: Lisa Camooso Miller, 703/302-1228

ALEXANDRIA, VA – Statement on behalf of Stephen L. Miller, President and CEO of the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity (ACCCE), in response to falsified constituent contacts made to congressional offices by Bonner and Associates:

“We are outraged at the conduct of Bonner and Associates. Bonner and Associates was hired by the Hawthorn Group – our primary grassroots contractor – to do limited outreach earlier this year on H.R. 2454. Based upon the information we have, it is clear that an employee of Bonner’s firm failed to demonstrate the integrity we demand of all our contractors and subcontractors. As a result, these egregious actions led to falsified letters being sent to Members of Congress.

“ACCCE has always maintained high ethical and professional standards. In this case, the standards and practices that we require for grassroots advocacy outreach were not adhered to by Bonner and Associates. In this sense, the community groups involved, the Members of Congress who received the fraudulent letters, as well as ACCCE, were all victimized by this misconduct.

“ACCCE has initiated an extensive review to gather all relevant facts pertaining to this situation. Additionally, we are evaluating all possible measures – including potential legal action – as a part of our commitment to ensure that high ethical standards are followed when conducting outreach to community groups, elected officials, and other members of the public.

“Over the past ten years, ACCCE’s public outreach program, as managed by the Hawthorn Group, has enabled more than 100,000 constituents to legitimately communicate with their elected and appointed officials on behalf of energy and environmental policies that sustain economic growth. We are proud of this work, and will continue to promote policies that will advance environmental progress, greater energy security, and economic prosperity in the United States.

Because of Bonner and Associates’ misconduct, we apologize to the community groups and the Members of Congress involved. There is no place for this type of deception. We applaud efforts to ensure that everyone involved in the public policy dialogue lives up to the highest ethical standards.”





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