Hearing on Forged Letters to Congress Delayed

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The Select Committee for Energy Independence and Global Warming hearing investigating the role of Bonner & Associates and the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity in forged anti-climate bill letters sent to members of Congress was postponed on Thursday. The delay came after Ranking Minority Member Jim Sensenbrenner (R-Wisc.) raised concerns that the committee had not been provided with witness testimony 48-hours in advance, as required by House rules.

Sensenbrenner was heard very loudly questioning committee staff about the issue before a full hearing room. Chairman Ed Markey (D-Mass.) called off the hearing shortly thereafter, saying that there had been “a procedural mistake.” “In order to be fair to all members in terms of their ability to examine everyone’s testimony … I think the correct decision is that we will postpone this hearing until next week,” said Markey.

The delay comes as other media are picking up on some of the more scandalous aspects of the story. I reported back in August that both Bonner & Associates and ACCCE know about the forgeries well before the House vote on the climate bill, but did nothing to inform the members of Congress who had received the fraudulent letters. In a written statement I obtained at the time, ACCCE said it was made aware of the forged letters on June 24, 2009—a full two days before the House narrowly passed the climate bill.

 

The Associated Press just got around to reporting about the lag time today. But Bonner, ACCCE, and the Hawthorn Group have each been busy pinning the blame on the other involved parties, and absolving themselves of responsibility in the case. Bonner, meanwhile, has blamed the letters on a single “rogue” employee, but it’s clear that none of the parties informed the members who had received the letters until after the vote.

This delay is significant, as two of the three members of Congress who received forged letters —Reps. Kathy Dahlkemper and Chris Carney, both Democrats from Pennsylvania—voted against the bill. Of course, they likely received many letters and calls about the bill, but one has to wonder what influence the fake letters may have had. Notably, Rep. Tom Perriello, a first-term Democrat from central Virginia who received the vast majority of the fake letters, voted for the bill.

Politico also has a report today detailing just how much money ACCCE has spent on astroturfing and lobbying work like this—to the tune of $10 million over the past 18 months. There will surely be more on this and other details of the letter scandal when the hearing is rescheduled next week.

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SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

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