Remember the lobbying firm that got busted forging anti climate bill letters to Congress on behalf of a coal industry front group a few weeks ago?
In response to a harshly worded query from Representative Ed Markey, Chairman of the Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming, Bonner and Associates has lawyered-up in a major way and taken a highly defensive posture.
This WSJ story, published late Thursday, contains a series of revelations:
The Washington lobbying firm that sent fake letters to lawmakers purporting to be from nonprofit groups opposed to climate-change legislation was "the victim of a fraud" perpetrated by a temporary employee who joined the firm "with the pre-determined intent of engaging in fraudulent activity," a lawyer for the firm has told congressional investigators.
The lawyer, Steven R. Ross, also suggested in a letter that a federal investigation into the matter may be under way.
The story that keeps giving:
In the letter to Rep. Edward Markey (D., Mass.), dated Aug. 12 and viewed by The Wall Street Journal, Mr. Ross, an attorney with Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP, said his client, Bonner & Associates, does not know "the complete motivation" of the employee but has referred the matter "to law enforcement authorities for proper investigation," due to "the serious implications of his actions."
The story continues:
In his letter to Rep. Markey, Mr. Ross, Bonner's attorney, doesn't identify the Bonner employee who sent the fake letters but offers new details on how they were concocted, saying the employee in question "had the assistance of an individual located at the offices of a professional liability insurance provider who would sign the letters and fax them back" to the Bonner employee.
The excuses keep coming:
The employee came to work for Bonner after answering an ad in Roll Call, a Capitol Hill newspaper, and worked for the firm for seven days before he was terminated.
Finally, the 'nobody could have predicted' defense:
"While B&A takes full responsibility for what happened and recognizes that there are quality control and human resources improvements that can and will be made, it is difficult to defend against a person bent on committing fraud," Mr. Ross's letter states. "Due to being short-staffed and given the incredibly short time frame of this project" - less than two weeks - Mr. Ross says that "some letters were transmitted to Capitol Hill before they could be thoroughly reviewed."
Update: Bonner and Associates has now implemented a 'No-Forgery' policy.
Update 2: Are you the temporary employee in question? DeSmogBlog wants to talk to you:
So who is that masked man? Where is the rogue temporary employee to defend himself and shed light on the way Bonner's shop operates?
You need to get your side of the story out, if in fact you do exist. If you are this elusive John Doe, or know of him, please drop us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and we will help tell the other side of this saga.
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