Talking Points Memo is following a breaking story out today about Bonner and Associates, a lobbying organization who have admitted that a temp employee of theirs sent out letters opposing climate change legislation to Congresspeople with forged letterheads which made it seem like they were coming from grassroots groups like the NAACP and Creciendo Juntos.
Part of an Ongoing Effort?
In 2002, in response to complaints that Bonner and Associates was sending out misleading faxes to minority non-profits, founder Jack Bonner said “It’s a great exercise in the First Amendment.” Bonner’s lobbying firm was working for Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA) at the time to kill legislation aimed at lowering the cost of prescription drugs for Medicaid recipients.
In 2006, Bonner and Associates assisted an astroturf organization, 60 Plus Association, which fought legislation in New Mexico, Minnesota and Maine which would lower prescription drug costs. The 60 Plus Association, as well as Senior Coalition and United Seniors Association, were later revealed in this AARP newsletter article to be front groups for the pharmaceutical industry (including Pfizer, Merck and Wyeth-Ayerst).
Congress is set to probe the forged letters, so I expect we will be hearing more about deceitful lobbying industry practices in the future. Something to be aware of during the month of August as lobbyists come out in force to kill health care reform and the public option.