The coal industry lobbying outfit the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity (ACCCE) is pressing forward with an aggressive astroturfing campaign going after U.S. senators — despite the recent revelation that it was responsible for forged “grassroots” letters to lawmakers, attacking the American Clean Energy and Security Act:
Paid staff will both call people already on the group’s list and talk to other people at public events, asking them if they want information or T-shirts or would be interested in asking a question at a town hall meeting. “This is the purest form of grassroots,” Lucas said. “It’s facilitating constituents to talk one-on-one with members of Congress.
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 misleading questions about energy policy.
ThinkProgress has discovered that ACCCE has subcontracted its astroturf operations to the Lincoln Strategy Group, a GOP-tied firm notorious for voter fraud. The LinkedIn profile for Lincoln Strategies staffer Courtney Forrester reveals that her employer is engaged in a massive effort to recruit supporters on behalf of the coal industry. Steve Gates, communications director for ACCCE, told ThinkProgress that Lincoln Strategy Group ran their grassroots campaign last year as well.
The new firm managing the “grassroots” campaign for the coal industry has a history that distinguishes it as being one of the most notorious voter fraud organizations in the country:
- In Oregon and Nevada, Lincoln Strategies — then known as Sproul and Associates — was investigated for destroying Democratic voter registration forms. The Bush-Cheney 2004 presidential campaign paid Sproul $7.4 million for campaign work. [CNN, 10/14/04; KGW News, 10/13/04; East Valley Tribune, 09/07/06]
- In Nevada, people who registered as Democrats with Lincoln Strategies — then known as Sproul and Associates — found their names absent from the voter registration rolls. [Reno Gazette-Journal, 10/29/04]
- During the 2006 midterm elections, Wal-Mart banned Lincoln Strategies for partisan voter registration efforts in Tennessee. The Republican National Committee had hired the firm. [Associated Press, 08/24/06]
- In Arizona, Lincoln Strategies employed a variety of deceptive tactics — including systematically lying about the bill — to push a ballot initiative to eviscerate the state’s clean elections law. [Salon, 10/21/04]
- Lincoln Strategies, then employed by the Republican Party, was behind efforts to place Ralph Nader on the ballot in states such as Arizona. [American Prospect, 06/25/04]
Even former Rep. Chris Cannon (R-UT), during a hearing on voter fraud, admitted that “the difference between ACORN and Sproul is that ACORN doesn’t throw away or change registration documents after they have been filled out.”
After the coal industry was caught red-handed stealing letterhead and forging fake letters in opposition to clean energy reform, they simply blamed their contractor — a firm with a long track-record of providing exact type of astroturfing they were caught doing. Now with the coal industry hiring a firm with a long history of fraud and possible criminal activity (the Bush administration declined to ever investigate Sproul and his Lincoln Strategy firm), it is clear the industry is interested in defeating clean energy with deceit and purchased support.