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People vs. Polluters December 22, 2009

Posted by Morgan in astroturf, bonner and associates, chamber of commerce, copenhagen, naked fraud.
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There are more people to blame for failure in Copenhagen than… sensational cliches to start blog posts with.  Obama probably negotiated his ass off during his 9 hours in Denmark, but he didn’t do enough legwork beforehand to set himself up for success.  China blocked any sort of requirement, goal, target or accountability mechanism, even though it is and will remain the largest greenhouse polluter.  The US Senate didn’t pass a climate bill in time.  The list goes on.

Yet some guilty parties are actively trying to mess the process up instead of just not doing enough: powerful fossil fuel and business interests are working against the interests of the people in the struggle for a senate bill and in the negotiations for a treaty. As Ricken Patel from Avaaz said about Copenhagen: “one group was cracking open the champagne – the polluting industry lobbyists.”

Even before the dust had settled or the last negotiations had stopped, the DC Action Factory used its last few hours as a group to deliver Climate Cover-Up: The Crusade to Deny Global Warming to every single senate office and Roland Burris (D-IL) in person. Maybe we didn’t do enough to expose the dirty energy campaign to hijack the senate, but hopefully final hours as an Action Factory are a sign of big things to come.

Mr. Burris probably shouldn’t have stopped to talk to us, because it didn’t make him look good at all. Even without knowing what an astroturf suit with a coal lobby name-tag symbolizes, you would think any senator with an instinct for self preservation (all of them?) would be wary. Instead, Julie said we had a book for him about how dirty industry has spun the science on global warming.Burris  saw the coal lobby name tag on David’s astroturf jacket and said, “You know, we have a lot of coal in Illinois, and we need to burn that coal.” Ouch. (more…)

Bonner and Ass. Pissed us Off August 6, 2009

Posted by Morgan in bonner and associates, naked fraud.
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Bonner and Associates pissed us off, so a few of us at the Action Factory, a group of young climate activists living and working in DC, took our clothes off in the rain to demonstrate the NAKED FRAUD of this astroturf lobbying firm.
Bonner and associate, who were working for the Hawthorne Group, whom in turn were working for American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity, forged not 1, not 6, but 12 letters to not 1 but 3 congressmen. All three of these companies are outraged, claiming to have fired the ‘deviant’ employee who supposedly acted on his or her own. They were so ‘outraged’ that they didn’t notify the congressmen who received these letters. They were so ‘outraged’ that they even forgot that Bonner has been caught using almost the same tactics before, making them look very stupid for hiring them in the first place. That’s pretty much blind with outrage.

Once the intense anger of the moment subsided, we grabbed a camera and headed back to Bonner’s office first thing Monday morning to get to the bottom of this. Keep in mind, we’re not professional journalists, and I apologize in advance if our ‘outrage’ clouds our judgment on ethical conduct. But, I think that you’ll enjoy joining us on this search for democracy. Bonner and Associates seems to have stolen it, so it only made sense to start looking at the scene of the crime…

Some thoughts:
*People seem pretty unsure of whether forging letters is illegal
*We’re not legal experts – what are the legal consequences for mail fraud? forging names and signatures? Lying to congress?

Aliens, Wizards, and Other Made-Up People Oppose Green Jobs August 5, 2009

Posted by Morgan in bonner and associates, naked fraud.
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Bonner and Associates (ahem, Hawthorne Group, ahem, ACCCE) couldn’t find enough real people to oppose clean energy and green jobs legislation. In fact, the management wouldn’t take that ‘no’ for an answer, and pushed their employees to commit outright mail fraud instead.

(C’mon, seriously, Tom Periello knows the folks who work for the NAACP chapter in his district. He’s gonna notice. – catch his interview on Rachel Maddow last night.)

So today, we decided to help the coal industry out a little bit by showing them that made-up people and creatures can have a say in politics! We dressed up as aliens, a wizard, and Little Red Riding Hood and passed out the Sierra Club’s hill add to hill staffers getting out of the subway. “Hey, help us kill green jobs!”

Its a testament to hill staffers that at least some of them replied, “No, I like green jobs.” Apparently irony isn’t the best tactic at 9am. But making up the names of people who oppose climate change legislation? Never a good tactic.

Photos and Video: No more Naked Fraud! July 31, 2009

Posted by Morgan in astroturf, bonner and associates, naked fraud.
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Action Alert: Protest in front of Bonner and Associates for naked fraud! July 31, 2009

Posted by Morgan in bonner and associates, naked fraud.
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This morning the below story broke: LOBBYISTS FORGED LETTERS TO CONGRESS ON CLIMATE BILL

A DC Lobbying firm stole the trademarked logo and organizational name of the NAACP and a community group in Charlottesville, VA and wrote a letter purporting to oppose the ACES bill in the house.

This is a prime example of dirty money fueling lies in DC. It is an affront to Democracy and a hindrance to passing the climate legislation our country desperately needs. We need to call them out and make this a national story.

RAPID RESPONSE ACTION:

What: Picket / Rally outside of the perpetrators’ offices. Visuals will include “naked” lobbyists holding signs admitting to “naked fraud” and climate destruction.

Where: 1101 17th St NW (Near Farragut Square Metro stops)

When: 2:30 PM, Friday July 31.

Who: Avaaz Climate Action Factory and YOU!

For Inquiry, call David Sievers at 301-455-2357 or Morgan Goodwin at 413-884-5240

—–

from the Charlottesville Daily Progress.

Forged letters to congressman anger local groups

By Brian McNeill

Published: July 31, 2009

http://www2.dailyprogress.com/cdp/news/local/local_govtpolitics/article/letters_sent_to_perriello_called_fakes._area_advocates_names_forged_by_d.c./43439/

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-based minority organizations voicing opposition to the
measure.

The letters, as it turns out, were forgeries.

“They stole our name. They stole our logo. They created a position
title and made up the name of someone to fill it. They forged a letter
and sent it to our congressman without our authorization,” said Tim
Freilich, who sits on the executive committee of Creciendo Juntos, a
nonprofit network that tackles issues related to Charlottesville’s
Hispanic community. “It’s this type of activity that undermines
Americans’ faith in democracy.”

The faked letter from Creciendo Juntos was signed by “Marisse K.
Acevado, Asst Member Coordinator,” an identity and position at
Creciendo Juntos that do not exist.

The person who sent the letter has not been identified, but he or she
was employed by a Washington lobbying firm called Bonner & Associates.

Gwynn Geiger Hegyi, a partner with the company, traveled to
Charlottesville to apologize to Creciendo Juntos’ chairwoman Dilcia
Colindres and sent a letter to Freilich.

“As I shared with Dilcia when I travelled to Charlottesville last
month to personally apologize for the mistake which we discovered and
contacted you about, we immediately fired the person on our staff
responsible for the error,” Hegyi wrote in the July 22 letter to
Freilich.

Hegyi and others at Bonner & Associates did not return two phone calls
Thursday seeking comment for this story.

More than a ‘mistake’

In a letter notifying Perriello’s office about the matter, Freilich
said he was “offended” by Hegyi’s characterization of the forged
letter as a “mistake.”

“This was not a ‘mistake,’” wrote Freilich, who is also legal director
of the Immigrant Advocacy Program of the Legal Aid Justice Center.
“This was a deliberately and carefully forged letter that used the
logo, address and name of Creciendo Juntos without authorization.
Additionally, I understand from Ms. Hegyi that our organization was
not the only Charlottesville-area organization whose reputations were
used in an unauthorized manner to try to influence Congressman
Perriello on this particular vote.”

After being notified of the bogus Creciendo Juntos letter, staffers in
Perriello’s office realized that the wording of the letter sounded
familiar.

The staffers dug through the stacks of thousands of letters, e-mails
and faxes Perriello received about the bill — the American Clean
Energy and Security Act of 2009 — and found five more forged letters,
these purportedly from the Albemarle-Charlottesville branch of the
NAACP.

M. Rick Turner, president of the local NAACP branch, said he checked
his organization’s roster and found none of the five people who signed
their name to the five faked letters.

NAACP ‘very appalled’

“I am very appalled as the president that our organization has been
misrepresented in this way by this bogus … letter,” Turner said. “I
hope that whoever’s behind this will be brought to justice.”

In fact, Turner said, the NAACP supports the American Clean Energy and
Security Act, as he said it would create good-paying jobs for blacks
and reduce harmful emissions, particularly in urban areas.

“Clean energy creates jobs in the urban setting,” he said.

The fake NAACP letters were faxed to Perriello’s office from the
Arlington headquarters of a company called Professional Risk
Management Services Inc. A representative of the company said she had
no knowledge of why the fax would have been sent from her office,
adding that at least 60 employees have access to the fax machine.

Perriello’s press secretary, Jessica Barba, said the congressman’s
office knows of only the five forged letters, but there may be others
they have not yet discovered.

“There could be more, but these are the only ones that we’re aware of
right now,” she said.

With regards to the Creciendo Juntos letter, it is not known who — if
anyone — hired Bonner & Associates to lobby against the bill, which
also is known as cap-and-trade legislation. The staffer who the
company said was fired may not have been working in any official
capacity when he or she created and mailed the forgery.

Bonner & Associates was founded in 1984 by Jack Bonner and is
considered a pioneer in the field of “strategic grassroots,” in which
the firm manages grassroots campaigns on behalf of its clients, which
have included Fortune 500 companies and national associations in all
50 states.

Artificial campaign

The AARP Bulletin reported in 2006 that the “60 Plus Association”
hired Bonner & Associates in 2003 to manage what it called an
“Astroturf” campaign against prescription drug legislation in
Minnesota and New Mexico, meaning that it was an artificial version of
a grassroots campaign.

Bonner & Associates hired callers to identify themselves as members of
the 60 Plus Association and urge residents to ask their governors to
veto the legislation. Pharmaceutical company Pfizer later admitted
that it had paid Bonner & Associates to undertake the campaign, AARP
reported.

An examination of lobbyist disclosure forms filed with the Office of
the Clerk of the U.S. House of Representatives shows that Bonner &
Associates did not register to lobby on behalf of any company or
organization against the cap-and-trade bill.

However, a lobbying firm only needs to disclose their clients if the
client pays them more than $3,000 in a filing period, at least one
employee spends 20 percent of their time lobbying, and that employee
made at least two lobbying contacts within the filing period. Managing
a grassroots campaign might not require public disclosure of lobbying
activities or clients.

Bonner & Associates has disclosed a few clients in recent years. For
example, the company took in $150,000 to lobby on behalf of the
Electric Utility Shareholders Alliance between 1998 and 2000,
according to the nonprofit Center for Responsive Politics.

In a report Wednesday, the Center for Responsive Politics revealed
that oil and gas companies greatly increased their spending on
lobbying between April and June, primarily because of the
cap-and-trade energy bill. During the second quarter of 2009, these
companies spent $37.7 million on lobbying congress, representing a 30
percent increase over 2008.

Perriello ultimately voted in favor of the bill, which narrowly passed
the House on June 26 in a 219 to 212 vote. The bill is now before the
U.S. Senate.

Perriello’s vote has drawn the ire of some critics who say the measure
will increase electricity bill costs and eliminate jobs.

Barba, however, criticized the bill’s opponents for the forged letters.

“It’s very unfortunate that opponents of this bill would resort to
deception and made-up letters,” she said. “Spreading false information
is not healthy for real debate in our democracy. Congressman Perriello
voted in favor of the bill because of its potential to create clean
energy jobs, which is why the NAACP and many other groups supported
the legislation in the first place.”