Wednesday, August 19, 2009

13th forged letter opposing climate legislation arrives for Rep. Perriello

This could get uglier than the healthcare astroturfing.

By Brian McNeill, Media General News Service
Published: August 19, 2009

A congressional investigation has turned up yet another fraudulent letter sent to U.S. Rep. Tom Perriello, this one forged to appear as if it was sent by the Senior Center in Albemarle County in opposition to climate change legislation.

In response to the ongoing scandal, a watchdog group called Tuesday for new laws to crack down on such phony grassroots campaigns. A similar measure was defeated in 2007 in the Senate after pressure from lobbying firms in what has been called a “misinformation campaign.”

The latest forgery brings the total number of bogus letters sent to Perriello and two other congressmen to 13, representing a total of nine community groups in Charlottesville and in Pennsylvania.

All of the letters were sent by a Washington “grassroots” lobbying firm on behalf of a pro-coal advocacy group in mid-June and urged the congressmen to vote in opposition to the American Clean Energy and Security Act.

“Dear Congressman Perriello,” the latest forged letter reads. “My organization, Senior Center Inc., represents seniors in your district. You are about to vote on important environmental legislation (the Waxman-Markey bill). We support making the environment cleaner, but the reason we are writing is that we are concerned about our electric bills. Many seniors, as you know, are on low fixed incomes. The cost to heat and cool our homes, run hot water and use other appliances is very important to those on a budget.”

The bogus letter was signed by “Peter M. Thompon [sic], Executive Director, Henry County Senior Services.”

The real-life Peter Thompson, executive director of the Senior Center Inc., said he is “outraged” that a lobbying firm would falsely appropriate the Senior Center’s logo and reputation in opposition to a bill before Congress. …

13th bogus letter sent to Perriello

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