A Brief History of Sleaze

Fight disinformation: Sign up for the free Mother Jones Daily newsletter and follow the news that matters.


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.”

We've never been very good at being conservative.

And usually, that serves us well in doing the ambitious, hard-hitting journalism that you turn to Mother Jones for. But it also means we can't afford to come up short when it comes to scratching together the funds it takes to keep our team firing on all cylinders, and the truth is, we finished our budgeting cycle on June 30 about $100,000 short of our online goal.

This is no time to come up short. It's time to fight like hell, as our namesake would tell us to do, for a democracy where minority rule cannot impose an extreme agenda, where facts matter, and where accountability has a chance at the polls and in the press. If you value our reporting and you can right now, please help us dig out of the $100,000 hole we're starting our new budgeting cycle in with an always-needed and always-appreciated donation today.

payment methods

We've never been very good at being conservative.

And usually, that serves us well in doing the ambitious, hard-hitting journalism that you turn to Mother Jones for. But it also means we can't afford to come up short when it comes to scratching together the funds it takes to keep our team firing on all cylinders, and the truth is, we finished our budgeting cycle on June 30 about $100,000 short of our online goal.

This is no time to come up short. It's time to fight like hell, as our namesake would tell us to do, for a democracy where minority rule cannot impose an extreme agenda, where facts matter, and where accountability has a chance at the polls and in the press. If you value our reporting and you can right now, please help us dig out of the $100,000 hole we're starting our new budgeting cycle in with an always-needed and always-appreciated donation today.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate