POLITICS:

Markey focuses on ACCCE in forged letters investigation

Rep. Ed Markey (D-Mass.), wants the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity to explain its connection to the lobbying firm that sent at least 12 forged letters to members of Congress regarding the House climate bill.

Markey, the chairman of the Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming and one of the main authors of the climate bill, this afternoon sent a letter asking ACCCE to explain its connection to Bonner & Associates -- the firm that sent the forged letters -- and why it waited for more than a month to come forward about the forgeries.

ACCCE revealed earlier this week that a total of a dozen forged letters claiming to be from various community organizations went to three different House Democrats -- Reps. Tom Perriello of Virginia and Kathy Dahlkemper and Chris Carney of Pennsylvania. But the group said it had no knowledge of the forged letters until after they had been sent out by an employee of Bonner & Associates.

Among other things, Markey wants ACCCE to clarify its relationship with the Hawthorn Group -- the ACCCE contractor that hired Bonner & Associates -- including exactly what services it provides for the advocacy group and how much it is paid. Additionally, Markey asked ACCCE to clarify exactly what actions it took between finding out about the forged letter in late June -- two days before the House vote on the climate legislation -- and revealing its involvement in the matter earlier this week.

"The deliberate inaction prior to the House vote and the extended silence after the vote -- some 40 days after ACCCE knew what had happened -- raises serious concerns," Markey wrote.

Markey sent a letter Monday to Bonner & Associates asking it to disclose a number of details about its operations after ACCCE disclosed that the firm had lobbied on its behalf (E&E Daily, Aug. 4).

ACCCE, which represents a number of major electric utilities and coal producers, said it had no knowledge of the forged letters until after they had been sent out by an employee of Bonner & Associates. According to a background document provided by ACCCE, it was Bonner & Associates that had first identified the letters through the internal review process and had informed Hawthorn Group about the situation.

ACCCE President and CEO Stephen Miller said in an interview earlier this week that his organization had been told that Bonner & Associates would reach out to the congressional offices that received the letters and the community organizations whose names were used. Miller said it was not until the media reports last week that his coalition found out that Bonner had not fully dealt with the issue.

Markey's letter asks for a response from ACCCE by Aug. 12. Though Markey's select committee has no legislative authority, it does have subpoena power.

Click here to view Markey's letter.

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