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Congress Discovers Another Forged Advocacy Letter

By David A. Fahrenthold
A Congressional committee's inquiry has turned up a 13th forged letter criticizing a climate-change bill, this time in the name of a Charlottesville senior center, and sent to a lawmaker by a Washington lobbying firm.

The letter to U.S. Rep. Tom Perriello (D-Va.) was released Tuesday by the House Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming.

The founder of the lobbying firm that sent the letter, Bonner and Associates, said the missive was discovered Monday during a internal review by his company's law firm, Akin Gump, launched in response to the House committee's investigation.

Earlier this month, Bonner and Associates acknowledged having sent out 12 fraudulent letters to Perriello, Rep. Kathy Dahlkemper (D-Ohio) and Rep. Chris Carney (D-Ohio). At the time, Bonner and Associates was a subcontractor working for the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity, a pro-coal group that was seeking greater assurances about the price of energy under proposed climate change legislation being considered by Congress.

Bonner's job was to drum up support from local groups. But, of about 58 letters sent to Congress as part of its campaign, 13 have since been found to be fraudulent, said to Select Committee spokesman Eben Burnham-Snyder.

"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," Rep. Edward J. Markey, the climate-change committee's chairman, said in a written statement. "Lately, democratic debate has been deceptively debased by fake facts and harsh rhetoric. We must return to an honest discussion of the issues, and ensure that this sort of campaign does not further poison the well of trustworthy debate."

Jack Bonner, the founder of Bonner and Associates, said in an e-mail Friday that all 13 fraudulent letters were written by a single Bonner employee, who has been fired.

The letter unveiled today is written on the letterhead of the Senior Center, Inc., a 49-year-old organization in Charlottesville that offers services like classes, sports and blood-pressure screenings. It says that the center is concerned about the impact of rising electricity bills on seniors, notes that coal provides a large amount of Virginia's electricity, and urges Perriello to make "pro-consumer" changes in the climate bill.

"My name was spelled wrong. The name of our organization was ... wrong underneath my name," said Peter Thompson, the center's executive director. Thompson said he was first shown the letter Friday by an investigator hired by the pro-coal group.

Thompson noted that his group has not taken a stand on the climate change legislation, which passed the House in June. "We are outraged that these ethical breaches are happening.... We feel victimized," he said.

Other fraudulent letters:
•To Perriello, purporting to be from NAACP member "William Ernst."

• To Perriello, purporting to be from NAACP member "Sheila Dowe."

• To Perriello, purporting to be from NAACP member "T.J. Hudson."

• To Perriello, purporting to be from NAACP member "Marilyn Williams."

• To Perriello, purporting to be from NAACP member "Rebecka Shields."

• To Perriello, purporting to be from the group Creciendo Juntos.

• To Perriello, purporting to be from the Jefferson Area Board for Aging.

• To Perriello, purporting to be from the American Association of University Women.

• To Dalhkemper, purporting to be from the Slippery Rock (Penn.) Senior Center.

• To Dahlemper, purporting to be from the Erie (Penn.) Center on Health & Aging

• To Dahlkemper, purporting to be from the Butler Senior Center in Lyndora, Penn.

• To Carney, purporting to be from the Dunmore (Penn.) Senior Citizens' Center.

By Web Politics Editor  |  August 18, 2009; 5:40 PM ET
Categories:  Ethics and Rules  
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Comments

Just goes to show how ethically challenged supposedly "Christian" republicans really are.
The only way they can get support for their causes is to lie to and instill fear in senior citizens.
And Obama wants to kill grandma!
Way to go, Bonner & Associates, Rush Limbaugh and Sarah Palin!

Posted by: jeffc6578 | August 18, 2009 6:20 PM | Report abuse

Undoubtedly this goes on all the time. But those on the right seem to consistently be caught up far more often in their own hypocrisy.

The Republicans named this sort of immorality in 1972: the "dirty tricks" campaign, run by Donald Segretti (who mentored Karl Rove). It's in their blood.

Posted by: davewyman | August 18, 2009 6:49 PM | Report abuse

Kathy Dahlkemper is a representative from Pennsylvania, 3rd District, not Ohio.

Posted by: trishD1123 | August 18, 2009 7:03 PM | Report abuse

These Christian scumbags are committing crimes against America, working for our nation's enemies. It used to be such traitors were dragged out of their offices, put on trial, and where executed.

Now they're given billions of our dollars in "bail outs" and they're allowed to commit treason and foment domestic terrorist hate with complete immunity.

Christianity is abjectly evil, even by its own standards.

My opinions only and only my opinions, as always.

Posted by: DamOTclese | August 18, 2009 7:07 PM | Report abuse

Oh: I should mention that the notorious Scientology crime syndicate does the same thing, claiming to be members of a group calling itself something like Concerned Black Christians or something while trying to sneak in to Bowdon, Georgia under assumed names to install one of their fake "drug treatment" scams they call "NarCONon," the details of which can be found at http://www.crackpots.org/

Funny how organized crime gangsters behave exactly like Republican Christians, huh?

My opinions only, and only my opinions, as usual.

Posted by: DamOTclese | August 18, 2009 7:09 PM | Report abuse

"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, .... Lately, democratic debate has been deceptively debased by fake facts and harsh rhetoric. We must.... ensure that this sort of campaign does not further poison the well of trustworthy debate."

Astroturf roots, phony outrage, posoned debate, fraud-mongering. That's the Republican way. Never trust a Republican. Fear, Hatred, Distortion and Division. It's all they've got

Posted by: thebobbob | August 18, 2009 7:13 PM | Report abuse

Could we have a little proof from Periello that he did not forge these letters and send them to himself? Sounds like a very tempting photo op for an ambitious politician.

Posted by: hill_marty | August 18, 2009 8:05 PM | Report abuse

Sure hope these letters get forwarded to the White House so they can continue to build up the Obama enemies list, along with all those others who dare to oppose Obamacare.

Posted by: dennis10 | August 18, 2009 8:24 PM | Report abuse

Jack Bonner..saif..all 13 fraudulent letters wer sent by a single Bonner employee who has since been fired. Isn't this a criminal defense? And isn't Bonner himself in some way responsible for the oversight of his employees? Or is this like the "rouge" trader who bankrupts a finanbial institution in currency trading, or the few bad apples who brought us Abu Graib. Scapegoat the little guy while their "unknowing", i.e derelict on duty, superiors feign ignorance and walk scot-free. Again, isn't this in some way criminal?

P.S. I accept the need for clean energy but the fact remains, we have far more coal than any other energy resource and clean-coal needs to be developed.

Posted by: jmdziuban1 | August 18, 2009 8:29 PM | Report abuse

It is NO surprise that the neo-cons are engaging in this unethical, illegal, corrupt fraudulant behavior. Neo-cons know nothing else! This is what their party is all about! This is what they do best! Look at who their leaders are: Money, Limbaugh, Beck, money, O'Reilly, money, Coultier, Hannity, Dick Armey, Fox and Friends, money, FreedomWorks, money and money! The neo-cons continue to prey on the damaged minds of this country to do their DIRTY WORK becasue heaven forbid, they might get their filthy hands dirty!!!!!!!

Posted by: merf-1 | August 18, 2009 8:49 PM | Report abuse

Nothing, absolutely nothing people can do peacefully to discourage the huge injustice, theft and enslavement being forced on them by the Obama administration, is wrong, compared to what Barrack Obama and his cronies do!
I just hope people who do not want to be enslaved by a government changed to being a "dictator", by ignoring the people and what they want, doesn't touch off massive riots in protest! How long does the Obama Administration think they can lie to the American people and take powers not conveyed to them by our Constitution?
Very scary the attitude reflected by our President and the Democrat's 111th Congress.
Voting in Government Health "Enslavement" by only the Democrats will be stupid!
People do not like to be dictated to!
That is why we are Americans, free, and will fight, and have fought to stay that way!

Posted by: USDefender | August 19, 2009 1:04 AM | Report abuse

Nobody could have predicted that another piece of right wing chicanery would surface. Not that it makes any difference--the Congressional committee is just for show. Its members are either too supine or too bought and paid for to actually DO anything beyond a little finger wagging and tut-tuttery.

Posted by: nicekid | August 19, 2009 4:42 AM | Report abuse

Lobbying has gone too far.

American citizens, such as these seniors, are not just being drowned out by special interest groups, their voices are being hijacked.

Abraham Lincoln spoke of "government of the people, by the people, for the people," but what we have in our ethically-challenged government is wholesale bidding of "campaign contributions" for legislation.

I'm realistic enough to know that I can't expect Congress to do away with such a sweet deal, but there is a compromise that would allow ordinary Americans to have a voice in government.

Create a new branch of government, Public Lobbyists, to compete with big business for legislation.

Posted by: shadocat | August 19, 2009 5:41 AM | Report abuse

Being human is not a petty matter.It means that we are entitled to claim the most exalted position in the creatures of the universe.But that also attaches a responsibility to our attitude and that is that we must be dignified in our manners.Telling a lie is the basis of all wrongdoings.A lier is not only a disrespectful person but an enemy of every good human effort.Can there be two opinions about it?

Posted by: fida2007 | August 19, 2009 6:17 AM | Report abuse

There are enough reputable scientists and experts to refute or support energy and global warming issues. Why anyone seeking the truth about the reality of this issue would give any credibility to special interest lobbyists or organizations like a seniors organization is beyond me. All are entitled to their opinions, but, unless based on fact, who cares? I hope that the Senior Center, Inc. finds those who stole their identity and prosecutes them to the full extent of the law. This is definitely a criminal issue, but why is the federal gov't involved?

Posted by: coffic | August 19, 2009 9:05 AM | Report abuse

Bonner and Associates has for a long, long time labored under a rather dark cloud in terms of reputation. They have long been an employer of last resort. Anyone managing to get fired by an enterprise on this level should just leave town. Catch the next bus back to Podunk.

That being said Bonner was just a sub-contractor. I hear the ACCCE phoney front group is the brainchild of a third rate gang of hacks out of Alexandria run by yet another crazy alcoholic closeted pedo tethered to no moral or ideological hitching post. "We're in it only for the money, honey! The whole thing is fake and the following should be very proud of their association:

Allegheny Energy, Inc.
Alliance Coal, LLC
Alstom Power
AMEREN Corporation
American Electric Power
Arch Coal, Inc.
Arkansas Electric Cooperative Corporation
Associated Electric Cooperative, Inc.
Basin Electric Power Cooperative
Berwind Natural Resources Corporation
BHP Billiton
BNSF Railway
Buckeye Industrial Mining Co.
Buckeye Power, Inc.
Bucyrus International, Inc.
Caterpillar Incorporated
Chevron Mining Inc.
CONSOL Energy Inc.
Consumers Energy
Crounse Corporation
CSX Corp.
Drummond Company, Incorporated
DTE Energy (Detroit Edison)
Duke Energy Corporation
E.ON U.S.
Foundation Coal Corp.
Freightcar America, Inc.
GE Energy
International Coal Group
Jennmar Corporation
Joy Global Mining
Luminant
Midwest Generation
Mirant Corporation
Murray Energy Corporation
Natural Resource Partners L.P.
Norfolk Southern Co.
Oglethorpe Power Corporation
Peabody Energy Corp.
Progress Energy, Incorporated
Seminole Electric Cooperative
SEP Corporation (Sunflower Electric)
Southern Company
Tri-state Generation & Transmission Assn. Inc.
Union Pacific Railroad
Western Fuels Association

Posted by: SoCali | August 19, 2009 9:59 AM | Report abuse

Lies, misinformation, fraud--these are standard operating procedures for the corporate interests who have opposed every attempt to address climate change. For thirty years, they published fake science denying that climate change is happening. Now that the science has reached a general consensus, they will do anything to stop the problem from being addressed in any meaningful way.

BTW, the guy was fired, but isn't forgery illegal--shouldn't he be arrested?

Posted by: writinron | August 19, 2009 10:28 AM | Report abuse

When will the American people ever get tired of being the "Red Shirts" on planet Political Greed and storm Washington demanding campaign reform?

Posted by: Phritz | August 19, 2009 11:09 AM | Report abuse

I grew up in Iowa with Grassley (R-IA), went to the same Iowa schools, and graduated from University of Northern Iowa. Grassley has one lasting part: he never was known to tell the truth. These dirty tricks could easily have come from his camp, not just Bonner & Associates and the general GOP. Daily I am grateful I shook off the cloak of darkness of being a member of the Republican Party, and later rejected the mythology of Christianity. I can think for myself, and I am a senior citizen (like Grassley, but unlike him have no health insurance, and unlike him have an earned doctorate) retired on a pension of $200 a month and $1000 in social security who inches out a life not having seen a doctor or dentist for 8 years (can't afford either) living meagerly after Wells Fargo foreclosed on my home in Iowa without notifying me (I read about it in the Iowa Falls newspaper), but then the head of the bank in Des Moines did get a $3 million bonus for his "good work" with foreclosures, and helps fund the fraudulent letters now on "socializing medicine." Those who support the GOP obstructionism (like Grassley) are paid stooges--not average citizens. It is time that Grassley and his cronies are defeated in 2010. If I am still alive, I will vote against Grassley and Letham.

Posted by: arthur_ide | August 19, 2009 11:17 AM | Report abuse

Well, I guess the only answer is to verify each letter received. This way they find out if it is false or, if true, allows a followup.

Time consuming and expensive, but it will compliment & clarify those who truly sent a letter and fire up those whose names/organizations have been co-opted.

Posted by: dadada | August 19, 2009 12:24 PM | Report abuse

Can't they get the guy on identity theft charges?

Fired? That's it? It's not like this guy is going to any have problems faking his resume(s).

Posted by: shhhhh | August 19, 2009 12:39 PM | Report abuse

This is why America has and needs representative government. The wisdom and good will of the elected body is designed to protect US from being taken over by well funded, self-interest groups. The question is, does Congress have the guts to do what is right? Greedy manipulators have no qualms about lying to create fear and hatred in the uninformed to mold public policy to their benefit. They risk nothing for maintaining lavish lifestyles at the expense of citizens' lives, health, and even destruction of Earth's fragile climate balances.

Right-wing talking heads repetitively spout the mantra: "We shouldn't let the perfect become the enemy of the good". If this stupidity makes sense then we should take it to the next higher step: "Don't let the good be the enemy of the WORST!" The worst is the health care insurance we have now which we can keep as status quo. Should NASA adopt the good vs. perfect approach? They could save lots of time and money by striving to come close to landing on the moon. Good would be coming close even if the astronauts spiraled into orbit around the sun.

Shouldn't our legislators strive for a real solution (read: Public Option) instead of any unacceptable, second best?

Posted by: DeeBunker | August 19, 2009 1:01 PM | Report abuse

Well, I see the WaPo dumped Eilperin. Interesting.

You know, this whole line of discussion is a croc because HUMAN induced Gorebal Whining, I mean Global Warming, I mean Climate Change just doesn't exist. I contrast that with Global warming, which does happen NATURALLY!!!

Consider this. There have been multiple episodes of glaciation and deglaciation over the past million years, which means that we've had multiple episodes of global warming over the past million years, it all happened naturally without the help or hindrance of man, GM, or Escalades.

VOTE REPUBLICAN!!!

Posted by: A1965bigdog | August 21, 2009 12:22 AM | Report abuse

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