The American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity (ACCCE), a coal industry-funded spin shop, was recently caught playing with the dark side of the force when it came to light that they had paid Washington, D.C., lobbying firm Bonner & Associates to forge letters from local nonprofits to members of Congress asking them to vote against the Waxman Markey climate change bill. Karl wrote about it here first, I followed up with my two cents the next day.

Well, the story has gotten even dirtier.

The Sierra Club has dug up news that ACCCE has been funding shady work for well over a year -- in May 2008 they were behind fraudulent phone calls made urging people to oppose the Lieberman Warner climate change bill. A call was placed to an activist with N.C. Waste Awareness and Reduction Network asking for their signature on a petition asking Senators Lieberman and Warner to leave climate change legislation up to the states (they had a big climate change bill in the works, but it died). The caller claimed to be from a group called Americans for Balanced Energy Choices (ABEC). ABEC is a coal industry-funded group that had merged with the ACCCE.

The caller first claimed that ABEC was an environmental group with no ties to the coal industry and then promised to get back to her supervisor once the NC WARN activist called them out on being the coal lobby.

It's clear that ACCCE is willing to play fast and loose with the law (and with reality). It's not hard to see why -- they get paid to make sure the dirtiest source of energy on the planet keeps a firm grasp on our collective throats (and for some, our literal throats, see coal & asthma) and wallets. How do you sell a product like coal without stepping over the line? I imagine they get along great with tobacco lobbyists.

And who is going to jail for this? We put people in the clink for way stupider reasons. I wonder where "coal lobby executive" sits on the hierarchy of prison. Putting some of these guys in jail every now and then might actually serve as a deterrent, and we can stop having our democracy hijacked by dirty corporate interests.

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Shea Gunther is a podcaster, writer, and entrepreneur living in Portland, Maine. He hosts the popular podcast "Marijuana Today Daily" and was a founder of Renewable Choice Energy, the country's leading provider of wind credits and Green Options. He plays a lot of ultimate frisbee and loves bad jokes.

Calling it in: Coal lobby's fraudulent phone calls
How long has the ACCCE -- the coal-funded spin shop recently caught lying to members of Congress -- been practicing the dark side of lobbying?