May 25, 2012

On Craigslist, Coal Lobby Offers $50 To People To Wear Pro-Coal T-Shirts At Regulatory Meeting

Here’s a great catch from the Environmental Law & Policy Center in Chicago. A coal group posted a Craigslist ad offering people $50 to wear pro-coal t-shirts at an upcoming EPA meeting in Illinois. The posting has been deleted, but here’s a screenshot:

A local Sierra Club blog took pictures of people wearing the shirt at the meeting:

Narrow political interests often lack actual grassroots support, so they simply pay people to pose. AT&T lobbyists used donations to manipulate pro-gay organizations, health insurance lobbyists authored fake letters in support of the wasteful Medicare Advantage program, oil companies routinely pay for buses to ship demonstrators for rallies, and even, on occasion, some unions pay people under minimum wage to picket.

Too often, influence peddling is only quantified by registered lobbying or sophisticated ad campaigns. But these astroturf — fake grassroots — efforts are part of how powerful interests control the policy process. In this Illinois case, the coal interests were simply caught red-handed.