A Brief History of Sleaze

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Bonner and Associates claims to be shocked that a wayward temp in their offices sent letters purporting to be from African American and Hispanic groups to lawmakers, asking them to vote against cap and trade. This is odd, because creating the illusion of popular support for or opposition to a bill is what Bonner and Associates does. Below the jump, a few of their greatest hits:

 

2001: Pfizer hires Bonner to muster up some grassroots opposition to legislation in Minnesota that would make prescription drugs more affordable for seniors. A state representative finds out about the scheme after receiving a call that purported to be from the 60 Plus Association but which turned out to be from a phone bank organized by Bonner—the representative heard the caller being coached in the background. (Incidentally, 60 Plus has long been known as a go-to group for conservative causes—Jack Abramoff once instructed an Indian tribe to donate to the organization, saying that it would help garner support for their legislative causes with the House GOP leadership.)

2002: The Maryland legislature considers a bill to cap prescription drug prices. According to the Center for Public Integrity, a Bonner-created group called the Consumer Alliance faxes letters to church leaders and community groups like Associated Black Charities in Baltimore, warning that “the poor and disabled were in danger of losing access to affordable prescription drugs.” Bonner had been hired by the pharmaceutical industry to orchestrate the campaign, and was targeted with an ethics complaint until it agreed to register as a lobbyist in the state. When challenged on the tactic, company founder Jack Bonner called it a “great lesson in the First Amendment.”  

2003: Anita de Palma of the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) makes a trip to DC to lobby against a Medicare funding cut for cancer patients. She cries at a press conference while recalling her own father’s death from cancer, and even gets a giant hug from Sen. Bill Nelson. De Palma said it was only later that she discovered that US Oncology, the group that paid her travel expenses, was not a patient advocacy organization but a front for drug companies that would lose millions if the cut went ahead. The “grassroots” campaign had been organized by Bonner. Explaining the strategy to Politico, Jack Bonner said:”Emotion moves politics. Cancer’s a great example of this.”

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DEMOCRACY DOES NOT EXIST...

without free and fair elections, a vigorous free press, and engaged citizens to reclaim power from those who abuse it.

In this election year unlike any other—against a backdrop of a pandemic, an economic crisis, racial reckoning, and so much daily crazy—Mother Jones' journalism is driven by one simple question: Will America will move closer to, or further from, justice and equity in the years to come?

If you're able to, please join us in this mission with a donation today. Our reporting right now is focused on voting rights and election security, corruption, disinformation, racial and gender equity, and the climate crisis. We can’t do it without the support of readers like you, and we need to give it everything we've got between now and November. Thank you.

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