The American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity claims to be shocked, shocked that forged anti-climate-bill letters were sent to members of Congress by one of its subcontractors, saying it was “an isolated incident.” But it seems ACCCE also engaged in some fishy behavior last year during debate over a Senate climate bill.

Grist contributor Sue Sturgis of the Institute for Southern Studies reported in May 2008 that a representative for ACCCE, then known as Americans for Balanced Energy Choices (ABEC), was caught misrepresenting the group in a phone call that aimed to drum up opposition to the Lieberman-Warner Climate Security Act. In a call to an activist at the North Carolina Waste Awareness and Reduction Network, an ABEC representative lied about the fact that the group represents and lobbies on behalf of the electric utility industry.

Shortly thereafter, ACCCE senior communications director Steve Gates issued a statement attributing the misrepresentation of their group to “one new staff member — who is no longer working on this project.” Gates said the staffer “decided to ‘wing it’ when asked some questions that were off her script. This staff person clearly should have answered ‘Yes’ when asked if ABEC was related to the utility industry.”

Reader support helps sustain our work. Donate today to keep our climate news free. All donations DOUBLED!

Sound familiar?

Grist thanks its sponsors. Become one.

We may learn more as the House Select Committee for Energy Independence and Global Warming gets rolling with its investigation into the forged letters. The scandal began with the discovery of falsified letters to Rep. Tom Perriello (D-Va.), purportedly sent by Creciendo Junotos, a Hispanic advocacy group, and the local branch of the NAACP. On Tuesday, Perriello said that he also received fake letters on behalf of the Jefferson Area Board for Aging, a Charlottesville senior citizens agency, and the American Association of University Women. Reps. Kathy Dahlkemper (D-Penn.) and Chris Carney (D-Penn.) received forged letters too.

Meanwhile, ACCCE is kicking off a $1 million campaign to convince Senate Democrats in coal-dependent states to vote against a climate bill this fall. The group’s efforts will include 225,000 “volunteers” — dubbed “America’s Power Army” — who will “visit town hall meetings, fairs and other functions attended by members of Congress and ask questions about energy policy,” reports Greenwire.

“This is the purest form of grassroots,” said Joe Lucas, an ACCCE spokesman. “It’s facilitating constituents to talk one-on-one with members of Congress.”

With ACCCE’s recent track record, we’ll be eager to see what comes of its “voluntary” army.

Grist thanks its sponsors. Become one.