Did Bonner & Associates flat-out lie to Congress about informing lawmakers and constituent groups of those forged letters it sent?
In a letter to Rep. Ed Markey that we posted late last week, Bonner lawyer Steven Ross wrote that in the days after Bonner discovered the forged letters, the firm “personally contacted each of the eight organizations that were defrauded.”
But the Charlottesville Daily Progress reports that three local organizations — in whose names forged letters were sent to Rep. Tom Perriello — say Bonner never contacted them.
Five letters were forged to appear as if they were sent by members of the Albemarle-Charlottesville chapter of the NAACP. Rick Turner, president of the group, said he has never once heard from Bonner & Associates.
Elyse Thierry, publicity manager of the Jefferson Area Board for Aging, said Bonner & Associates also did not notify her organization.
“We never heard from them,” Thierry said
Peter Thompson, executive director of the Senior Center Inc., has said he also was not notified by Bonner & Associates that his name and his organization’s logo had been used in a fake letter to Perriello. Thompson said he first learned of the forgery when an investigator with the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity called him in early August after The Daily Progress reported about Bonner’s forged letter campaign.
And its not just the community groups who are contradicting Bonner’s story. Ross also wrote that on July 1 — already over a week after the forgeries were discovered — Bonner left a message for Perriello’s chief of staff. But Perriello’s press secretary says the office never heard from Bonner.
A Bonner spokesman told the paper that the firm stands by the assertions in Ross’s letter. Of course, it can be a crime to deliberately lie to Congress.
No one disputes the following: even though Bonner learned of the forgeries before the vote on climate change legislation that they were intended to affect, the firm waited until after the vote to notify the lawmakers who got them.
The Bonner spokesman tried out a hilarious explanation for that. He told the Daily Progress that “the notifications came after the House voted on the American Clean Energy and Security Act because Bonner & Associates was too busy notifying the groups that had been used in the forgeries.”
“Jack felt that it was important first to notify each of the organizations and individuals whose names the temporary employee had misused in the letters before notifying the members of Congress,” the spokesman said in an e-mail. “That process took some time to complete. Once he had notified each of those people and the groups, he then reached out to the lawmakers.”
In other words, it was worth delaying informing the lawmakers who received the forged letters — and who were about to vote on the bill at issue — until after all the local groups had been told. Even though the delay meant the lawmakers would vote before being informed about the forgeries. Makes sense.