Markey to Investigate Forged NAACP Letters to Perriello

Posted July 31, 2009 at 3:09pm

Rep. Ed Markey (D-Mass.), chairman of the Energy Independence and Global Warming Committee, announced Friday that he is launching an investigation into a series of fraudulent letters sent to freshman Rep. Tom Perriello (D-Va.) purportedly from minority groups urging him to oppose climate change legislation.

Markey’s announcement comes days after Perriello’s staff discovered that they had received at least six forged letters warning that Perriello’s minority constituents would suffer from higher electricity costs under the climate bill. Five of the letters purport to be from a local chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People; one claims to be from a local Latino group, Creciendo Juntos.

Perriello’s staff first learned of the fake letters when Creciendo Juntos notified them that a D.C. lobbying firm, Bonner & Associates, had come to them to apologize for an “error— in sending the letter to Perriello on behalf of the nonprofit group.

Perriello aides fished out the letter from their files, at which point a staffer realized something wasn’t right.

“Our energy policy staffer was like, This language looks familiar.’ And indeed, it was,— Perriello spokeswoman Jessica Barba said.

From there, staff discovered five more letters with nearly identical language claiming to be from the NAACP.

“It’s bizarre, but also it’s just very sad that people would resort to these tactics from the far right,— Barba said. She noted the irony of the NAACP letters raising concerns with the climate bill when the group had already come out in favor of it.

Perriello, who pulled off a major upset by unseating six-term Republican Rep. Virgil Goode, said his vote for the climate bill triggered “the full range of emotions— from constituents.

Markey called the actions against him “an appalling abuse— and praised Perriello for voting for the measure.

“This fraud on Congress shows that some opponents of clean energy have resorted to forgery and theft to block progress,— Markey said. He warned other Members to “be on the lookout for other suspicious and illegal materials.—

Barba said Markey is taking it upon himself to take action and Perriello was not seeking an investigation into the matter.

Perriello said he didn’t know much about where the letters came from. He called the incident just another sign of the “ridiculousness— he has encountered from right-wing groups trying to smear him.

“We really have seen a set of tactics going beyond the breaking point and starting to backfire,— Perriello said.