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This Isn’t Public Relations–It’s Criminal Mail Fraud!

Outrageous! If there is a PR equivalent of disbarment, Bonner & Associates would be a candidate.

As U.S. Rep. Tom Perriello was considering how to vote
on an important piece of climate change legislation in June, the
freshman congressman’s office received at least six letters from two
Charlottesville-based minority organizations voicing opposition to the
measure.

The letters, as it turns out, were forgeries.

“They stole our name. They stole our logo. They created a position
title and made up the name of someone to fill it. They forged a letter
and sent it to our congressman without our authorization,” said Tim
Freilich, who sits on the executive committee of Creciendo Juntos, a
nonprofit network that tackles issues related to Charlottesville’s
Hispanic community. “It’s this type of activity that undermines
Americans’ faith in democracy.”

You can read the newspaper article here If you prefer audio. Democracy Now covered this today (briefly) as well.

I make a good part of my living as a PR copywritier and marketing
strategist, and I’m totally appalled. I also note that all the press
coverage I’ve seen points out that this particular firm has a long
history of “astroturfing,” which casts suspicion on the claim that this
was an accident. I don’t know how you forge a letter from an imaginary
person on someone else’s official letterhead—twice!—and call it an
accident. I also don’t know how you can run a PR agency for decades for
25 years and not think that the Public Relations Society of America Code of Ethics has any relevance to you. This isn’t just astroturfing. It’s fraud, and criminally actionable.

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