Rep. Ed Markey’s investigation into those forged climate change letters continues apace. Today, he sent a letter to the coal industry group on whose behalf Bonner and Associates was working when it sent the letters, which urged members of Congress to oppose the recent climate change bill and purported to come from local black and Hispanic groups.
Markey’s letter, sent to the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity, focuses in part on the delay in notifying members of Congress about the forged letters after they were discovered. He notes in a press release accompanying the letter:
Bonner’s group informed ACCCE of the letters a full two days before the vote on the Waxman-Markey clean energy legislation, which ACCCE was attempting to influence, yet none of the Congressional offices were notified about the spurious letters prior to the vote.
Two lawmakers who received the forged letters, Reps. Nancy Dahlkemper and Chris Carney, both of Pennsylvania, voted against the bill.
ACCCE has said it left it to Bonner to inform the relevant lawmakers, prompting Markey to ask in his letter:
Did ACCCE indicate that this information should be communicated
in a prompt manner, in light of the upcoming vote? Or did ACCCE leave it to
others to decide when was the best time to notify the affected Members and
these organizations of the fraudulent letters?
The Markey letter also seeks more information on the relationship between ACCCE and the Hawthorn Group, the contractor that hired Bonner to conduct “grassroots” outreach for the campaign.
Last week, Markey sent a letter to Bonner asking for a slew of detailed information about the circumstances under which the forged letters were sent. We offered some insight into the Bonner business model — which makes such “mistakes” all but inevitable — here and here.
Here’s the full text of the letter:
August 5, 2009
Sent via facsimile and U.S. Mail
Mr. Stephen L. Miller
President and CEO
American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity
333 John Carlyle Street
Alexandria, VA 22314
Dear Mr. Miller:
Recent news reports and other publicly available information indicate that the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity (“ACCCE”) was the entity that hired Bonner & Associates to engage in “grasstops” efforts that resulted in fraudulent letters being sent to a number of Members of Congress prior to House consideration of the Waxman-Markey American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009. I am aware that ACCCE has issued a
“Background Document” that seeks to address the matter, but frankly it raises as many questions as it answers. Most glaringly, ACCCE apparently learned of the twelve fraudulent letters on June 24, 2009 (two days before the House vote on the Waxman-Markey bill), but did not take any action to make the affected Congressional offices or the public aware of the situation until some time after ACCCE had known of Bonner & Associates’ actions. Press reports indicate that ACCCE may not have told the other
affected offices that they too had received fraudulent letters until Monday, August 3, 2009.
The deliberate inaction prior to the House vote and the extended silence after the vote — some 40 days after ACCCE knew what had happened — raises serious concerns.
In order to enable us to understand the facts and circumstances relating to this matter, I ask you to respond to the following questions:
1. Describe the relationship between ACCCE and Hawthorn Group. How long has ACCCE or its predecessor organizations used the services of the Hawthorn Group? What services do they provide? How much does ACCCE pay Hawthorn Group on a monthly basis? Please provide a copy of all contracts between ACCCE and Hawthorn Group. To the best of your knowledge, is Hawthorn registered under the Lobbying Disclosure Act?
2. The ACCCE background document that you have circulated on Capitol Hill states that ACCCE was aware that the Hawthorn Group had engaged Bonner & Associates to conduct “community outreach.” Where (by Congressional District) was Bonner & Associates hired to conduct this activity? Please provide a copy of all contracts between the Hawthorn Group and Bonner & Associates to perform work for or on behalf of ACCCE. Did the Hawthorn Group engage other “grasstops” or “grassroots” agents to conduct public or community-based outreach? If yes, please identify the other entities that
were engaged and the areas (by Congressional District) in which they were hired to conduct “community outreach.”PAGE: 2
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