There’s Always a Scapegoat: Who’s Responsible for Forged Letters to Congress?

When a company screws up, however big or small the mistake, there is typically always a fall guy (or girl).  Some rogue employee, whether real or fictional, to be blamed for the outrageous incident.   Do we as consumers of media believe this is always the case?   Of course not.  Sometimes, the story is just too fishy to be blamed on one company rep.

Such is the case in the most recent scandal in Washington involving the consulting firm Bonner & Associatesand forged letters sent to Congressional leaders urging them to vote against the Waxman-Markey bill, the famed climate change legislation currently swimming its way through the Senate.  The letters (a total of 12 discovered so far) which claimed to be coming from minority groups such as the NAACP, were sent to members of Congress asking them not to pass the climate change legislation through the House.   On Friday, a spokeswoman for Rep. Tom Perriello (D-Va.) said his office had received six fake letters, purporting to be from a Latino social-services group and NAACP members in his district. 

Bonner and Associates, a DC based grassroots lobbying firm, has reported they were subcontracted by the Hawthorn Group who just happens to represent (are you ready for it?) the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity, a lobbying group for the coal industry.  Once this scandal was revealed, the Hawthorn Group’s COO Michael Coe released this statement:

Hawthorn immediately terminated our work with Bonner and promptly advised A.C.C.C.E. of the identified falsified letters and informed A.C.C.C.E. that Mr. Bonner had agreed to follow up with the Congressional offices and organizations to inform them and to apologize on behalf of Bonner & Associates. Only subsequently did Hawthorn learn that Bonner had failed to reach the Congressional offices to properly advise them.

The Hawthorn Group deeply regrets that Bonner & Associates caused the fabricated letters to be sent to the Congressional offices and its failure to follow up appropriately when they discovered the error. We maintain the highest ethical and quality control standards for our work, and nothing like this has happened in our 17 years in business. We are taking steps to ensure that it doesn’t happen again.

So – just to reiterate – a grassroots lobbying firm is contracted by another firm on behalf of ANOTHER lobbying group representing the coal industry and the first lobbying firm sends forged letters from local and national minority groups to Congress as a tactic to keep the Waxman-Markey climate bill from passing.  The middle lobbying group claims it had no idea – the pro-coal group claims IT had no idea and has been nothing but cooperative since the letters emerged – and what does Bonner & Associates, the firm from where the letters originated, have to say about it?  According to Jack Bonner,

A temporary employee–lied to us–and contrary to our policies sent these letters. We–no one else–we on our own found this out. We immediately fired the person.

Of course.  It was the rogue employee – only employed by the firm for all of 7 days before he/she decided to take vigilante action and draft fake letters – close to 50 letters appear to have been sent –  from widely recognized minority groups to send to Congress to block climate change legislation.   You know, because temporary employees who just started a week totally have the means, motive and wherewithal to pull something like this off.  And the fact that this group was hired by another group who just HAPPENS to represent the coal industry, who, at the time was lobbying for a specific price guarantee that did not in fact make it into the bill – this is all pure coincidence.

No chance that Bonner & Associates, Hawthorn & the pro-coal group all had knowledge of this strategic plan to convince Congressional leaders to vote against the bill by using minority groups to deliver the message.  No – they all have, as Mr. Coe puts it, the “highest ethical and quality control standards” for their work. 


And I was born yesterday.

Posted by: Ashley / follow me on Twitter


One Response to There’s Always a Scapegoat: Who’s Responsible for Forged Letters to Congress?

  1. I’ve been surfing online more than 4 hours today, yet I never found any interesting article like yours. It is pretty worth enough for me. In my view, if all site owners and bloggers made good content as you did, the net will be a lot more useful than ever before.

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