More fake letters opposing climate legislation have come to light, with this latest batch being falsely attributed to senior-citizen organizations.
As we’ve reported previously, forged letters were sent to three U.S. representatives from Bonner and Associates, a Washington, D.C.-based group that specializes in astroturfing. Bonner was subcontracted by the PR firm Hawthorn Group to do work on behalf of the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity, a coal-industry group that wanted to stop passage of the Waxman-Markey climate and energy bill in the House.
Rep. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) on Tuesday released copies of five letters that hadn’t been seen publicly before, including one we hadn’t heard about previously, upping the total number of confirmed fakes to 13. Markey chairs the House Select Committee for Energy Independence and Climate Change, which is leading an investigation into the scandal.
The newly discovered letter [PDF] was sent to Rep. Tom Perriello (D-Va.) under the name of Senior Center Inc. in Charlottesville, Va. Perriello — who received a total of nine forged letters, including some purportedly coming from minority groups in his district — voted for the climate bill that passed the House on June 26.
Pennsylvania Democratic Reps. Kathy Dahlkemper and Chris Carney, who voted against the bill, also received forged letters claiming to be from senior groups. Markey has released copies of all the fake letters.
The letters written under the names of senior-citizen organizations are very similar. Here’s the text of one sent to Dahlkemper [PDF] claiming to be from the Slippery Rock Senior Center:
You are about to vote on important environmental legislation (the Waxman-Markey bill). We support making the environment cleaner, but the reason we are writing is that we are concerned about our electric bills. Many of our seniors, as you know, are on low fixed incomes. Some of our seniors have even received decreases to their social security payments. Further making it a difficult choice to meet the basic necessities of life (food, prescription medication and the like). The cost to heat and cool their homes, run hot water and use other appliances is very important to those seniors on a budget.
Our state gets 56% of its electricity from coal. We urge you to pass legislation that reduces greenhouse gases but at the same time protects seniors and consumers from unaffordable increases in the basic necessity of electricity.
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. Please don’t vote to force cost increases on seniors and consumers especially in this volatile and unsteady economy. We urge you to make pro-consumer changes in the Waxman-Markey bill to protect seniors and all of your constituents of your district from unaffordable energy cost increases.
Markey’s investigation into the forged letters continues. According to a press release from his committee, “Dozens of letters still remain that must be verified as genuine or false — all told, 58 letters were sent to the three members of Congress.”
“We’ve seen fear-mongering with our nation’s senior citizens with health care, and now we’re seeing fraud-mongering with senior citizens on clean energy,” said Markey in a statement. “Lately, democratic debate has been deceptively debased by fake facts and harsh rhetoric. We must return to an honest discussion of the issues, and ensure that this sort of campaign does not further poison the well of trustworthy debate.”