Forged Letters Sent to Congressman to Undermine Climate Legislation

Capitol HillWhen considering how he’d vote on the Waxman-Markety bill last month, Charlottesville, Virginia Representative, Tom Perriello, did what any legislator should. He listened to his constituents. Among the thousands of emails, letters, and faxes he received, a handful in particular stood out.

One was written by Creciendo Juntos, a nonprofit network that works with Charlottesville’s Hispanic community. Five more from the Albemarle-Charlottesville branch of the NAACP. All urged the freshman congressman to vote against the important climate change bill. All, it turns out, were forgeries.

“They stole our name. They stole our logo. They created a position title and made up the name of someone to fill it. They forged a letter and sent it to our congressman without our authorization,” Tim Freilich, an executive committee member of Creciendo Juntos, told the Charlottesville Daily Progress. “It’s this type of activity that undermines Americans’ faith in democracy.”

According to the Daily Progress, the person who sent the letter has not been identified, but he or she was employed by a Washington lobbying firm called Bonner & Associates.

It is unclear who—if anyone—hired Bonner & Associates, or even if it was a concerted fraudulent act on their part. Nonetheless, it has cast suspicion over the lobby, as well as the lobbying industry at large.

A report Wednesday by the Center for Responsive Politics revealed that oil and gas companies greatly increased their spending on lobbying between April and June, which analysts say were efforts to combat the legislation. During the second quarter of 2009, these companies spent $37.7 million on lobbying congress, representing a 30 percent increase over 2008.

Perriello ultimately voted in favor of the bill, which narrowly passed the House on June 26 in a 219 to 212 vote.

Ashwin is an Associate Editor of Triple Pundit. He recently returned to the Bay Area after living in Argentina, where he wholeheartedly missed the Pacific Ocean. He is a freelance editor and media and marketing consultant.After a brief stint working in the wine world, when not staring blankly at a computer screen, you'll find him working on Anand Confections or at 826 Valencia, where he has been a long-time volunteer.