The Charlottesville Daily Progress has a story today that every member of Congress and group involved in climate action on Capitol Hill should read.
During the run-up to the House vote on the American Clean Energy and Security (ACES) bill, at least six forged letters claiming to be from local community groups were sent to Rep. Tom Perriello (D-Va.) voicing opposition to the bill.
A Washington lobbying firm was connected to at least one of them, the newspaper reports. It was a letter purported to be from the nonprofit Hispanic community group Creciendo Juntos and was signed "Marisse K. Acevado, Asst Member Coordinator."
The group doesn't have an assistant member coordinator or a staff member by that name, Creciendo Juntos executive committee member Tim Freilich told the newspaper. He said a partner in the lobbying firm Bonner & Associates apologized to the group in a letter and in person, calling it "an error."
Perriello's staff also found five more forged letters opposing the bill, all signed from the Albemarle-Charlottesville branch of the NAACP with names not connected with the organization, the newspaper reports. The congressman's office confirms the details of the newspaper's report.
Sierra Club President Carl Pope says his group was disturbed by the news.
"It's impossible to know at this point how many other members of Congress may have received forged letters like those found in Rep. Perriello's office," Pope said.
"It is disturbing, to say the least, to think that some Congress people may have, in good faith, voted thinking they were representing their communities when in fact they were not."
Read the full Daily Progress story, including reactions from the two community groups, neither of which opposed ACES, here.