Under the AstroTurf Radar

Via The Progress Report

ENERGY -- THE REAL FACES OF COAL: A new "grassroots" fossil fuel front group, FACES of Coal, is employing a shadowy Republican-staffed company to spread its message. The Federation for American Coal, Energy, and Security --- a pro-mountaintop removal campaign that refuses to reveal its "grassroots" members -- held its initial press conference in Charleston, WV. There, a representative from the West Virginia Coal Association -- one of the few groups to publicly admit being part of FACES -- complained about "outsiders" who don't "appreciate America's reliance on coal." But as the DeSmog Project reported, FACES is willing to rely on "outsiders" to do its actual work. The FACES website, which includes no contact information and uses pictures from iStockPhotos to portray grassroots supporters, is registered to the Adfero Group, a K Street public relations firm. Adfero's online communications arm was spun off as Fireside21.

Rachel Maddow covers that aspect starting at 1:06


Adfero and Fireside21 serve predominantly Republican and corporate clients. Ken Ward, Fireside21 CEO, was a staffer for former Republican congressman Richard Pombo; Jeff Mascott, Fireside21 president and Adfero managing director, built the GOP.gov website. Additionally, Adfero is behind numerous big oil astroturf campaigns, including "Fuel For America," which whitewashed price-gouging by its clients following Hurricane Katrina; the "ChamberGrassroots," "Vote For Business" and "Coalition for a Democratic Workplace" campaigns that fight labor reforms including card-check; and the campaign "Californians Against Higher Taxes," which killed a clean energy reform ballot measure in 2006. Adfero clients include the American Tort Reform Association, the National Pork Producers Council, and the Independent Petroleum Association of America.

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