Friday, August 7, 2009

Outrage Fest Continues: Bonner and Associates with Coal Buddies Fraudulent Faux Pas

Hello World Family,
Falcon here as Outrage Week continues with a little piece about what it’s like to live in a country where companies can pay other companies to pretend to be real people and organizations, misrepresent their opinions and philosophies to Congressmen and no one goes to jail.

Now, don’t try this at home; if you or I did something so disgusting, we would be brought up on fraud charges faster than you can say “coal”, but these guys have actually made a career out of fraud, and quite a profitable one, too; I might add.

The company in question is Bonner and Associates and the Clean Coal guys hired them to…ah…well..what was it they hired them to do exactly? I don’t know what they were hired to do…I do know what they did.

They stole the trademarked logo and organizational name of the NAACP and created false names, placed them on letters objecting to the ACES bill (American Clean Energy and Security Act), and sent these frauds to members of Congress, specifically Rep. Tom Perriello (D-VA) received multiple letters pressuring him to vote against clean energy reform. Perriello staffers discovered that the letters were actually forged by Bonner & Associates. Going through past correspondence regarding ACES, staffers found at least six forged letters purporting to be from Creciendo Juntos, a nonprofit Hispanic group, and the NAACP. (Thanks to The Daily Progress for information for this blog post).

Now, what is really funny about this is…the coal companies said that they didn’t know that Bonner and Associates might employ this kind of tactic. Indeed, Bonner themselves said it was a ‘temporary employee’ who did this, and they have been removed. Bonner seems to have had a history of maverick employees going way outside the lines for their company.

Going back to the mid 1980’s this firm has done things that you or I would have long been in jail for doing. They have been caught defrauding the federal government (aka…us) for millions, helping everyone from the tobacco lobby to PhRMA back in ’02. They even hired people to pretend to be retirees back in ’05 and say they were members of AARP. They weren’t.

This type of lie even has a name: Astroturfing. It is when a hired gun pretends to be a grassroots organization and commits fraud for the purpose of influencing elected officials by falsely acting as if they are constituents. They go to meetings, write letters, but they are just paid actors. These are corporate backed policies and have no actual grassroots representatives.

Bonner says that they are sorry. Bad employee. Hmm….

Protesters stood in the rain in D.C. in front of Bonner and Associates offices, nearly naked to make a point about the ‘naked lies’ that the company committed.

The NAACP has issued this statement:

“The NAACP is appalled that an organization like Bonner and Associates would stoop to these depths to deceive Congress. In this case Bonner and Associates are exploiting the African-American Community to achieve their misdirected goal. These tactics illustrate that discriminatory tactics normally used to deceive voters are now being used to deceive the Congress,” stated Hilary O. Shelton, Director of the NAACP’s Washington Bureau and Senior Vice President for Advocacy

So…World Family, what should we do? Besides ask for these guys to go to jail, protest, complain…what should we do?


We should get to know our representatives very well. Do you know who your representatives are in Congress? They know Falcon on sight. Do you write them regularly? Have you attended town hall meetings in your community? Do they come to your community? Invite them…personally.

Every minority and ethnic organization in this country needs to make sure that your elected officials in your neighborhood, city, borough, municipality, district, region, and state know you. They should come to your annual dinners. They should attend the picnics. Members of your organization should be present at every activity they throw. Aren’t on “the List?” Get on it! Demand it! After all, these are public officials and they WORK FOR US! They are public servants. We elected them, our tax dollars pay their salary, and we should have access to them regularly.

Actually, our elected officials and especially members of Congress will probably gregariously embrace our closer friendship. It will help reduce the likelihood that they can be manipulated by corporate interest misrepresenting itself as grassroots people.

Let’s put folks like Bonner out of business…since we can’t put them in jail. Why can’t we put them in jail, again…?

Have a great weekend getting to know your representatives.
Falcon and Dove

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