Markey releases more forged letters

Rep. Edward Markey (D-Mass.) on Tuesday released five more forged letters opposing a climate and energy bill that were sent by an interest group to three House members before a crucial vote in June.

The letters were apparently sent by Bonner & Associates, a grassroots advocacy firm working on behalf of the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity (ACCCE), a group of coal producers, users and railroad companies. Bonner & Associates blamed the forged letters on a temporary employee that the firm subsequently fired. 

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Markey, one of the two principal co-sponsors of the climate bill, released the letters as part of the investigation by the House Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming into what he calls a fraudulent Astroturf lobbying campaign designed to create the impression of citizen opposition to the bill. Markey is the chairman of the select committee.

The letters were sent to Democratic Reps. Tom Perriello of Virginia, and Kathy Dahlkemper and Chris Carney of Pennsylvania.

The names of the members who received faked letters had been released publicly. But the actual correspondence, which purports to represent senior-citizen groups, had not been disclosed until Tuesday.

Dahlkemper received a letter claiming to be from the Erie Center on Health and Aging that warned of higher electric bills should the climate bill pass.

“We ask you to use your very important position to help protect seniors and other consumers in Pennsylvania’s 3rd Congressional district from higher electricity bills,” the letter states.

Carney, meanwhile, received a letter from the Dunmore Senior Citizens that included phrases similar to those in the letter to Dahlkemper.

“Many of our seniors, as you know, are on low fixed incomes. The cost to heat and cool our homes, run hot water and use other appliances is very important to those on a budget,” both letters state.

Eben Burnham-Snyder, a spokesman for Markey's committee, said staff had asked ACCCE and Bonner & Associates to review the authenticity of 58 letters that were sent as part of the campaign leading up to the climate vote.

The coal group said it was cooperating with Markey’s investigation. “As a part of both our internal examination and our full cooperation with the House Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming, ACCCE is continuing to take all possible steps to determine the authenticity of all letters Bonner and Associates submitted under its limited scope of work with the Hawthorn Group on behalf of ACCCE.” 

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