A lobbying firm has admitted to forging letters to Rep. Tom Perriello in the names of a two Charlottesville groups, all asking him to vote against the energy bill. Professional astroturfers Bonner & Associates variously claimed to be “Marisse K. Acevado, Asst Member Coordinator” of Creciendo Juntos and various nonexistent members of the Albemarle-Charlottesville branch of the NAACP. Mysteriously, Bonner & Associates hasn’t registered as lobbying on behalf of anybody for this bill. (Which is doubly mysterious. Not only is it strange that they wouldn’t get a piece of this pie—I’m sure every lobbying firm in DC had a contract related to that bill—but why would they lobby against a bit just for the heck of it?) Perriello’s office points out that these are just the letters that they know have been faked—there could be many others.
This is just an evil thing to do. Such missives from constituents are important to legislators. They shouldn’t have to question whether those letter-writers actually represent the organizations that they claim to represent (or even exist). The amount of work that would necessary to verify such communications would be enormous, a huge waste of government resources. Can you imagine if Perriello had been moved to vote against this bill because of one of these letters—and if his vote was the deciding vote—only to later find out that this group that he knows and trusts felt completely the opposite about the issue? I have to wonder if laws aren’t being broken here. If this isn’t illegal, it should be.
Bonner & Associates describes this as a “mistake,” but that doesn’t begin to explain this or express how problematic that it is. I hope that Perriello’s office is able to pursue this, to find out who paid for these mailings to be sent, how many other such forged letters that they received from the group, what other congressman Bonner sent forged letters to, and how many other times that they have done this. Sunlight is the disinfectant called for here.