Witnesses Doing Damage Control Over Forged Letters to Congress

Posted October 29, 2009 at 10:07am

As the climate change debate continues to rage in the Senate, the House Energy Independence and Global Warming Committee held a hearing Thursday on its investigation into forged letters sent this summer opposing the House cap-and-trade bill.

Much of the testimony focused on the actions of a temporary employee at Bonner & Associates on behalf of the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity. That unnamed employee allegedly forged more than a dozen letters purportedly from local chapters of groups such as the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and the American Association of University Women.

Neither of the lobbying groups defended the actions of the former Bonner & Associates employee. Instead, both ACCCE and Jack Bonner distanced themselves from the forgeries, focusing on how each is moving forward to ensure a similar problem does not occur again.

ACCCE President Steve Miller said that the coal coalition has undergone a thorough review of its internal policy.

In addition to not paying Bonner for the work it did, Miller said, “Bonner and Associates will never perform work for ACCCE again.—

In addition, on the recommendation of its counsel, Venable, three senior ACCCE executives, including Miller, have been reprimanded and were given “substantial— financial penalties. ACCCE is also putting in place a public policy outreach code that all internal employees, contractors and subcontractors will have to sign.

In order to try to repair Bonner’s reputation, the grass-roots company has hired James Thurber, a professor at American University, as its ethics adviser. Also, Bonner said he has implemented a five-point action plan, which requires verifying the authenticity of all signed letters, ensuring that temporary workers’ résumés are legitimate before they are hired, and requiring new employees to complete a mandatory ethics training and test.