Friday, October 30, 2009

Honesty Fail: ACCCE Exec Exposes Himself to Perjury Charge

If you're going to lie, at least lie well.

That's the advice someone should have given to ACCCE President Steve Miller before he tried to put some real whoppers over on the House committee investigating his coal lobbying group's involvement in sending forged anti-clean energy letters to members of Congress.

Yesterday, Miller lied under oath when he claimed that ACCCE had never opposed passage of the Waxman-Markey clean energy and climate bill, and that ACCCE had never lobbied the federal government before 2008. Not only did ACCCE insist that a newspaper reporter correct an article to reflect ACCCE's opposition to Waxman-Markey, but they have lobbied federally since 2001, when they simply operated under a different name.

According to a spokesperson for the House Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming, the committee's staff is currently reviewing Miller's testimony and will soon decide whether his false statements warrant further action.

GE, Cisco Systems call out Chamber

This has been a good week for us here at Really? Seriously? We had hearings on forged letters by the ACCCE, ridiculous comments made all over the place by the opposition at the Senate EPW Hearings and to cap it all off, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce is being used as a punching bag - again.This time, however, the heavyweights are out.General Electric (GE), one of the largest members of the Chamber, made public their differing views of the way the Chamber has handled energy and climate issues. From Reuters:
"The Chamber does not represent our views on the urgent need for climate legislation," said Peter O'Toole, a spokesman for GE, the largest U.S. conglomerate. "We need climate legislation and a price for carbon in the U.S. now."
Sounds pretty cut and dry to us. As it also did to Cisco Systems Inc., which plans to work with the Chamber to, "modernize their position." Unfortunately, Chamber President Thomas Donahue might have a little trouble with that. Already, the Chamber has responded (also from Reuters):
"Our goal is to have the positions that we actually take stances on be reflective of the democratic majority of the broad majority of the business community," said Eric Wohlschlegel, a Chamber spokesman.
We are just hoping that when they tally up the votes, they divide by 300,000, not three million. Oh, and don't forget to count out those that have already had enough of you.

Some of our favorite ACCCE coverage (we like watching them squirm)

Wonder what Steve Miller was reading this morning...

CNN reports that Representative Ed Markey "grilled" ACCCE President Steve Miller for orchestrating a series of fraudulent letters intended to sway Representatives' decisions on clean energy and climate legislation.

Politico's headline reads "Coal industry knew about fraudulent letters"

HuffingtonPost features a video of Steve Miller lying in front of the House Energy Independence and Global Warming Committee about the fraudulent letters. Is perjury next for Mr. Miller?

TPM reports that Steve Miller's lies could open up a perjury investigation by the Department of Justice.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Bonner/ACCCE Hearing: Don't Worry, No One Will Ever Fact-Check This!

That must have been part of the conversation Bonner & Associates President Jack Bonner and ACCCE President Steve Miller had on their way into the Congressional hearing on forged letters sent to elected officials in opposition to the Waxman-Markey clean energy and climate bill.

No, really, they must have thought that no one was interested in watching the hearing or fact-checking anything Bonner or Miller said at a hearing that looked into... well, flagrant dishonesty on the part of Bonner's and Miller's organizations.

But alas, we fact-checkers are here, and we were watching.

Whopper #1: Steve Miller Claims ACCCE Never Opposed Waxman-Markey Bill

Really? Seriously? This press release looks an awful lot like opposition:

The House did make important improvements to H.R. 2998. However, ACCCE cannot support this bill, as it is written, because the legislation still does not adequately protect consumers and the domestic economy or ensure that the American people can continue to enjoy the benefits of affordable, reliable electricity, which has been so important to our nation.
So, too, does the fact that they went out of the way to correct an article written about Waxman-Markey to reflect their opposition to the bill.

Clarification: This story was changed to state that ACCCE opposed Waxman-Markey. An ACCCE spokeswoman in an interview Wednesday said that ACCCE was not opposed to Waxman-Markey but later in the day said that was an error and ACCCE at the time of the vote opposed the bill.
In case that wasn't enough, Stevie "Wonder what else I can get away with?" Miller had another one for the Committee.

Whopper #2: ACCCE Never Engaged in Federal Lobbying Before 2008

That would be true, if changing your name magically meant that your past disappeared completely. Unfortunately it doesn't, so ACCCE's federal lobbying activities since 2001, back when it called itself Americans for Balanced Energy Choices, still count. Via TPM:

Online records show lobby spending by Americans for Balanced Energy Choices (ABEC) -- the name that ACCCE previously used -- going back to 2001.

Maybe Miller is hanging his statement on the claim that ACCCE and ABEC are different organizations. But if so, that would be so misleading as to almost constitute an outright lie.
***UPDATE: See a video of this whopper here.***
According to the Steve Miller theory of interchangeable identities, I could rob a bank, legally change my name to Max Power, and get off scott free. Now that'd be sweet!

Call us crazy, but members of ACCCE's legal team might be spending a little time today doing some fact-checking of their own.

Kentucky Coal Wildcats?

It isn't even Christmas, yet the Kentucky men's basketball team is about to get a lump of coal. Think corporate sponsorship has already gone too far on college campuses? You ain't seen nothin' yet.

A group led by Alliance Coal CEO Joseph Craft has agreed to donate $7 million for a new dorm for the Wildcats' basketball team, on one condition - the school must name the dorm after his chief product, coal.

MSNBC has more about "Wildcat Coal Lodge":
There are so many angles from which this can be construed as wrong, most of which are covered in the clip. But, for the NCAA sports fans around here, we are, uh, burning about one more thing: the NCAA technically does not allow athletes to have their own dorm. They are supposed to share the same experience as every other student on campus.

So, if this goes through, everyone gets the black lung -- not just John Calipari's hoops team.

Jack Bonner: A History of Deceit

Heading into this morning's Congressional hearing on the ACCCE/Bonner & Associates forged letters scandal, the good folks at the Huffington Post did a little digging into the past activities of B&A President Jack Bonner. They found quite a bit:
Jack Bonner and his ‘Associates’ are well-known Astroturf specialists, working from the shadows to manufacture the appearance of grassroots support for the agenda of major corporate clients, who pay the firm large sums to generate such ‘citizen outrage.’ The firm doesn’t publicly disclose its current clientele, but several past clients have been identified in news stories and books.

Author Sharon Beder revealed in her book Global Spin that past Bonner clients include tobacco giants Philip Morris and U.S. Tobacco Co.; the Pharmaceutical Manufacturers Association; the utility trade group Edison Electric Institute; military contractor McDonnell Douglas; nuclear industry and military services giant Westinghouse; chemical companies Monsanto and Dow Chemical; and the major Detroit auto companies Chrysler, Ford and General Motors (who hired Bonner to help derail Congressional efforts to raise fuel efficiency standards back in the 1990s).

Other past clients include the coal barons of the Western Fuels Association; the American Sugar Alliance; Northrup Grumman (makers of the B-2 bomber); and the defunct Electric Utility Shareholders Alliance (a front group for big utilities that fought against electricity deregulation); to name only a few.

Operating out of a technologically sophisticated D.C. office, Bonner’s hired hands – mostly consisting of temporary employees and interns who are paid low hourly wages – crank out hundreds of phone calls and letters to Congress each day. Bonner reportedly refers to his own firm as a “white collar sweatshop.”
There's quite a bit more in the full Huffington Post article, which is well worth a read. It's going to be a great hearing: stay tuned to R?S? for updates throughout the day!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Blustering Inhofe Surrounded By "Traitors"

It was an interesting day yesterday for those following the ongoing saga of Oklahoma Sen. and Science Denierism Grand Poobah James Inhofe.

According to the Washington Post's Dana Milbank, Inhofe was a little hard to understand at yesterday's Senate Environment and Public Works Committee hearing on clean energy and climate legislation. Seems he was too distracted by his fellow Republicans' decisions to finally acknowledge the reality of climate change science to formulate questions of his own for the witnesses.

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) was in talks with Democrats over a compromise bill -- the traitor! And as Inhofe listened, fellow Republicans on the committee -- turncoats! -- made it clear that they no longer share, if they ever did, Inhofe's view that man-made global warming is the "greatest hoax ever perpetrated on the American people."

"Eleven academies in industrialized countries say that climate change is real; humans have caused most of the recent warming," admitted Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.). "If fire chiefs of the same reputation told me my house was about to burn down, I'd buy some fire insurance."
Graham and Alexander! Say it ain't so! Next, you'll be telling me the Deniers lost Vitter too!

An oil-state senator, David Vitter (R-La), said that he, too, wants to "get us beyond high-carbon fuels" and "focus on conservation, nuclear, natural gas and new technologies like electric cars." And an industrial-state senator, George Voinovich (R-Ohio), acknowledged that climate change "is a serious and complex issue that deserves our full attention."
Predictably, this really caused Inhofe to blow a gasket -- although not as much as having to listen to the bill's co-sponsor, Sen. John Kerry.

Inhofe molested the majority by having committee staffers put up on the dais a series of 3-by-5-foot posters with messages such as "Congressional Budget Chief Says Climate Bill Would Cost Jobs" and "U.S. Unemployment High/Why Kill More Jobs With Cap & Trade?" But this failed to cool Inhofe's temper, and by the time his turn came to question the administration witnesses, Inhofe was so steamed that he used his entire five minutes to vent.

He described the Democrats' proposal as "the largest tax increase in -- in history!" Agitated, his utterances disjointed, Inhofe went on: "Now, I also was -- was kind of -- I don't want any of the media to think just because I had to sit here and listen to our good friend Senator Kerry for 28 minutes, that I don't have responses to everything he said."

Nobody doubted that Inhofe had a response. The doubt was whether the response would make any sense.
We're wondering the same thing Milbank is right about now: whether Inhofe feels lonely as the last passenger on the Denierism train.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Term of the Day: "Independent Statistician"

Memo to the science-deniers who authored the recent, highly-suspect book Superfreakonomics (as well as the goofs at the "Hot Air Tour"): maybe you should have paid attention in your high school stats class.

That's the message from a recent Associated Press article that reports the findings of four independent statisticians (e.g., not on the payroll of Big Oil or one of its shill groups) who looked at claims that the Earth has actually cooled in the last ten years. According to the report:

Have you heard that the world is now cooling instead of warming? You may have seen some news reports on the Internet or heard about it from a provocative new book.

Only one problem: It's not true, according to an analysis of the numbers done by several independent statisticians for The Associated Press.
No way! They must have been pre-disposed to see trends that favor global warming. After all, scientists are all part of the arrogant liberal establishment!!!

In a blind test, the AP gave temperature data to four independent statisticians and asked them to look for trends, without telling them what the numbers represented. The experts found no true temperature declines over time.

"If you look at the data and sort of cherry-pick a micro-trend within a bigger trend, that technique is particularly suspect," said John Grego, a professor of statistics at the University of South Carolina.
So, without knowing that the data had to do with global warming, four independent experts concluded that there was no decreasing trend in the data that has given rise to entire books and Astroturf movements designed to attack the settled science of global warming. It's like finding out your marriage has been a sham the whole time.

What did the independent experts find?

The AP sent expert statisticians NOAA's year-to-year ground temperature changes over 130 years and the 30 years of satellite-measured temperatures preferred by skeptics and gathered by scientists at the University of Alabama in Huntsville.

Statisticians who analyzed the data found a distinct decades-long upward trend in the numbers, but could not find a significant drop in the past 10 years in either data set. The ups and downs during the last decade repeat random variability in data as far back as 1880.
That's what happens when you're not an industry hack: your ability to perform elementary math improves dramatically.

Monday, October 26, 2009

ACCCE: Diversifying Falsifying?

For much of the summer we talked about the fraudulent practices of the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity (ACCCE), mostly in reference to forged letters sent from one of the group's lobbyists, Bonner & Associates.

Now, the hot water is boiling. Rep. Ed Markey has announced that, during this week's investigative hearing into the matter in the Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming, the committee will also question the ACCCE for underreporting their expenditures in federal lobby disclosures.

While charges of fraud have dogged the group this entire time, additional allegations such as these make it look like a pattern from the ACCCE. Falsifying their required quarterly lobbying reports represent an attempt to defraud the federal government.

The New York Times reports:
In an Oct. 21 letter, Chairman Ed Markey (D-Mass.) asked ACCCE whether its lobbying disclosure for 2008 and the first half of 2009 should have included work conducted by the Hawthorn Group, a public relations firm hired in part to coordinate efforts to fight the House climate bill.

Rep. Markey directed ACCCE to detail how much of the $10 million it paid Hawthorn Group during that 18-month period went toward work aimed at influencing U.S. climate legislation. ACCCE paid Hawthorn Group more than $7 million in 2008 and nearly $3 million in the first half of 2009, according to documents it gave the committee.
It was the Hawthorn Group that hired Bonner & Associates prior to the letters being written.

Our guess as to what brought about the additional charges? If Bonner & Associates spent time generating false letters and calls, that would qualify as lobbying expenditures. Given that these would have been done surreptitiously, they certainly would not have been included in the group's lobbying expenditures.

Of course, this could also be the tip of another iceberg of ACCCE falsehoods.

This begs the question of how much of the entire opposition to comprehensive clean energy and climate legislation has kept from the government. Last week, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce filed its lobby report, detailing nearly $35 million in spending just last quarter. So not only are these groups winning the spending battle by far, they are lying about exactly how much.

But the fight continues.

And for now, it's back to the principal's office for the ACCCE.