"'Citizen Army' Carries Coal's Climate Message to Hinterlands"

"Coal's biggest lobbying group is launching a $1 million campaign to win support from Senate Democrats, an effort that employs the same public relations firm ensnared by a scandal over forged letters to Congress.

American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity (ACCCE), an alliance of coal and utility companies, hired Alexandria, Va.-based Hawthorn Group for the new effort. Hawthorn worked for the coal group earlier this year, coordinating outreach on the House climate bill. During that project, Hawthorn subcontractor Bonner & Associates sent at least three members of Congress a total of 12 fraudulent letters purporting to be from groups opposed to the legislation.

... The new project will use 225,000 volunteers dubbed 'America's Power Army.' They will visit town hall meetings, fairs and other functions attended by members of Congress and ask questions about energy policy.

But much about the identity of the volunteers and how they operate is hidden from public view, said Tyson Slocum, director of the energy program at Public Citizen, a watchdog group."

Anne C. Mulkern reports for Greenwire August 6, 2009.

Friday, August 7, 2009