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Buff Climate Strongmen: The Envy of EPW Senators August 2, 2009

Posted by Morgan in climate bill, strongmen.
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Last Thursday, just before news broke of the Naked Fraud committed by fossil fuel lobbyists prior to the house vote on ACES, the Climate Strongmen made the trek to Capitol Hill once again. These honest advocates are speaking on behalf of 300,000 Americans rather than on behalf of greedy oil executives, and they are speaking the truth. This time, the Climate Strongmen flexed their climate bill muscles both inside and outside of a Senate Hearing on Climate Change and National Security. In honor of the hearing theme, the strongmen wore hats with stars and stripes in order to remind Senators that passing a strong US climate bill isn’t simply about going along with the rest of the world – it is about protecting our own national interests and making America stronger. Ensuring the stability of countries most vulnerable to climate change will ultimately be a down payment on the future security of the United States. Reducing our dependence on foreign oil will mean that more American dollars will stay in the US and be invested in clean energy technologies here at home. A strong US climate bill will boster the American economy rather than support potential foreign threats.

Three climate strongmen sat inside the hearing with small signs stating the crucial role that a strong climate bill will play in ensuring the safety and security of the US. The strongmen were quite visible and despite their wit, Senator Lautenberg did not seem impressed by their humor. For the duration of the hearing, 3 additional Strongmen worked up a sweat in the hallway by a door where EPW committee members entered and exited the hearing. There the Strongmen greeted Senators and their staffers, encouraging them to adopt a rigorous climate workout routine. They had friendly exchanges with Senators from both sides of the aisle including chairwoman Boxer, and Senators Carper, Lautenberg, Cardin, Klobuchar, Whitehouse, Udall, Merkley, Inhofe, Barrasso, Bond, and Alexander.

Senators Klobuchar and Carper took particular interest in the Climate Strongmen and thanked them for their efforts. Envying the Strongmen’s burly muscles, these senators pledged to work harder to buff up the climate bill in the weeks to come in order to attempt to make it as strong and bold as the Climate Strongmen. Yet they didn’t seem to have the energy or motivation to flex their muscles in the Dirksen hallway.

Even Senator Inhofe, who has historically been unconcerned about climate change and doubtful of the risks that a weak and out-of-shape climate bill poses to America, was curious to know where the Climate Strongmen learned their brilliant workout routine and responded in a friendly manner when the Strongmen asked him to flex his climate muscles.

The Strongmen were excited to have the opportunity to show their strength and hope for a stronger climate bill to so many senators directly, and were glad to hear that many of these senators are committed to setting more ambitious CO2 fat reduction goals. Yet the Strongmen are not impressed with the stamina of the senate and really hope to see senators step up their ambition in the coming weeks. Perhaps the senate recess will give senators a chance to work out, so that they come back in September ready to make their climate bill harder, better, faster, and stronger. And only time will tell where the Climate Strongmen may show up next.

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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.”

Will Gillibrand Score a Home Run for Climate? July 15, 2009

Posted by Morgan in strongmen, tcktcktck.
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In their second public appearance on Tuesday, the Strongmen and women showed up in full force this evening at Guy Mason Field for the first ever Congressional Women’s Softball match. Why? To cheer on Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) of course!

With climate-themed ball game cheers, the Strongpeople attracted much attention and joined Gillibrand’s staff in pumping her up throughout the game. She seemed to recognize the Strongpeople, having seen them in the morning at an Environment and Public Works hearing. After the game, Gillibrand was excited to shake all of the Strongpeoples’ strong, muscular hands as they congratulated her on her excellent pitching and batting skills. The Strongpeople told her how much they are counting on her to “hit the climate bill out of the park too” and be a climate champion. They gave her a commemorative bat with information about ways to strengthen climate legislation and lead the US toward a global treaty in Copenhagen. The Senator thanked the Strongpeople for their advocacy and accepted the gifts graciously.
Senator Gillibrand is in a unique position to be a climate champion in the senate. She sits on the three committees that will probably play the largest role in piecing together a bill: Environment and Public Works, Agriculture, and Foreign Relations. To date, her statements on climate change are encouraging, including a recent indication that she “will use every bit of persuasive power” to restore the EPA’s authority to regulate pollution from old coal-fired power plants in the Senate version of the bill. This important EPA oversight is not included in the House-passed Waxman-Markey bill. Given that she sits on Foreign Relations as well as EPW, Gillibrand is also poised to help strengthen international finance provisions for adaptation and clean tech transfer. These oft-forgotten components of a US climate bill will mean a lot at international negotiations, and whether or not Gillibrand will lead in these areas as well remains to be seen.

Tonight, Senator Gillibrand played hard and even scored a run. The Strongpeople hope to see her do the same if not better in the Senate as the climate bill moves forward.

Strongmen/women want Strong Climate Bill July 14, 2009

Posted by Morgan in climate bill, strongmen.
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In this morning’s Environment and Public Works Senate committee hearing, Avaaz.org youth once again pushed for HARDER oversight of dirty coal plants, BETTER funding for international adaptation and clean tech measures, FASTER 2020 emissions reduction targets, and overall STRONGER domestic climate legislation leading up to Copenhagen. Six youth dressed in muscle suits and “HARDER, BETTER, FASTER, STRONGER” work-out tees filled a full row in the hearing room, and came face to face with Senator Boxer and other committee members.

The “strong” visual brought whispers of interest and cell-phone photos from hearing attendees and press. The strongmen/women also let out a burst of clapping after one witness’s testimony about the need to put a cap on carbon emissions. In response, Senator Boxer thanked demonstrators for their presence despite calling for order in the room. After a drawn-out debate over nuclear plants between the Chairwoman and Senator Alexander, the Avaaz strongmen/women stood in unison and slowly filed out of the room, creating a human wall of the STRONGER message.

The presence at today’s hearing follows Avaaz’s current theme: over the past week, the strongmen have visited another EPW hearing, delivered 5-pound barbells to committee member offices, created a “STRONG” aerial photo, and performed a core strengthening workout routine in the offices of primary targets. With their continued coaching, hopefully the senators will beef up and flex their legislative muscles to pass a strong climate bill. Stay tuned for another appearance of Avaaz’s strongmen and women.

Avaaz Action Factory helps Senators pump it up and make a STRONG climate bill. July 10, 2009

Posted by Morgan in copenhagen, tcktcktck.
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With youth leading the workout routine, and the EPA spotting them with good oversight, the Senate can qualify for the Climate Olympics in Copenhagen.

Photo credit: Christine Irvine

This week the bell sounded for round 2 of the US climate change legislative hurdling event with the opening hearing of Sen Boxer’s Environment and Public Works Committee. Over 100 youth organized by the Avaaz Climate Action Factory DC were there, in senators faces, showing them how to get a strong climate bill. Kanye West and Daft Punk provided the inspiration for the week with the theme: Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger.

Harder – oversight on coal plants.
Better – Renewable Portfolio Standard and investments in international adaptation.
Faster – emissions reductions targets.
STRONGER – leadership in the Senate and a stronger bill!

Tuesday, July 7th: first EPW hearing on Climate Bill
The Strongmen stormed the capitol! 6 activists in muscle costumes greeted senators going into the hearing, to flex their legislative muscles and strengthen the bill. Despite getting there at 7am for a 10am hearing, too many paid line-sitters were saving seats for lobbyists, preventing the Strongmen from entering. Their presence in the hallway was still impressive because it afforded the opportunity to talk to the press and flex for all the staff. The Strongmen also greeted energy secretary Steven Chu and Senators Kerry and Lugar walking in and out of the Foreign Relations Committee meeting room across the hall. Quote from Senator Kerry: “Stronger Climate Bill? Lets make it happen!”






Tuesday Afternoon: EPW Follow up
The Action Factory Strongmen visited 18 of the 19 senators offices on the EPW committee that afternoon to do personal workout routines. (Senator Inhoffe was skipped as he is too woefully out of shape to participate.) Workout routines consisted of three easy steps: 4 reps reaching high into the air to hit 40% reductions by 2020, three reps of five for 5% of allocations for international adaptation, 5% for REDD and 5% for clean tech transfer. And finally, since congress needs someone to spot them on the big lifts, we asked the EPA to provide oversight. Strongmen left bar-bells as presents in the offices, as well as teaching the receptionists how to do the workout for their bosses.

Thursday, July 9th: Aerial photo and more office visits:
As part of the Campus Progress lobby day, the Action Factory stepped up to organize a mass-action involving over 60 people in a guerilla aerial photo. Co-organizing with Energy Action Coalition and Chesapeake Climate Action Network, a team of letter captains, 50 volunteers walked into the Senate Hart office building and formed a ‘flash-mob’ spelling out STRONG in front of the baffled police. (See above photo)

This rapid-response call for a STRONG bill was followed by a group of 30 in strongmen outfits, Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger shirts and Powershift09 shirts to visit the offices of primary targets in the fight for a strong climate bill: Senators Levin (D-MI), Snow (R-ME) and McCaskill (D-MO).

The visit to McCaskil’s office was particularly relevant because she has repeatedly expressed concern that the climate bill is ‘too strong’ (to paraphrase). With the Strongmen’s help, Claire can beef up her stance on climate, provide the green jobs Missourians want and the international leadership the world needs.

Avaaz Action Factories: www.actionfactories.org
Avaaz has formed action factories at two strategic locations in Europe and in Washington DC to gather and deploy youth climate activists. Each location houses 15+ ‘Youth Climate Fellows’ working as a team, and supported by Avaaz.org. These fellows are devoting their summer months to mobilizing stunts, lobbying campaigns, and other actions. The work of these activists will maximize the possibility of achieving a strong binding global climate treaty at Copenhagen, and will raise the expectations and demands of the global public that governments must achieve such a treaty.

Photos Here:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/dc_climate_action/

Media Coverage:

Roll Call – Covers news and gossip on Capitol Hill
http://www.rollcall.com/gallery/1_214/#

Slate.com – Online news magazine with broad national reach and diverse readership
http://www.slate.com/id/2222493/

Free Speech Radio News
http://www.fsrn.org/audio/us-senate-loggerheads-over-clean-energy-legislation/5012

Treehugger.com – national blog on green politics, lifestyle, products and issues
http://www.treehugger.com/files/2009/07/strongmen-capitol.php

Wonkroom – Center for American Progress blog
http://wonkroom.thinkprogress.org/2009/07/09/harder-better-faster-stronger/

CNN – Lou Dobbs – Brief appearance on environmental groups not having a fair fight against big-money lobbyists.
http://www.cnn.com/video/?/video/bestoftv/2009/07/08/ldt.sylvester.homeless.line.holders.cnn

Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger July 8, 2009

Posted by Morgan in tcktcktck.
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Photo courtesy of Roll Call:

Yesterday we flexed our muscles in the senate, teaching senators on the Environment and Public Works committee about how they can bulk up to make the climate bill Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger.

Tomorrow, we need your help to send an even bigger message to the senate. We’re calling for:

Harder – oversight on coal plants.

Better – Renewable Portfolio Standard and investments in international adaptation.

Faster – emissions reductions targets.

STRONGER – leadership in the Senate and a stronger bill!

How are we doing to do that? By posing for a huge aerial photo spelling out the word STRONGER for the senate. But we need 80 people to make this happen. Can you be at the upper senate park at 12:30 pm tomorrow? Sign up on Facebook here.

Organized by Avaaz Action Factory DC, the Energy Action Coalition and the Chesapeake Climate Action Network.