The American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity (ACCCE) is a trade association representing coal interests and is itself a front group, originally called Americans for Balanced Energy Choices (ABEC). ACCCE was formed by the coal industry trade association Center for Energy and Economic Development (CEED).
From 2008 to 2012 ACCCE contracted two major PR firms, White and Partners and Hawthorn Group. In 2013, possibly due to plummeting revenue, ACCCE dropped almost all of their PR contractors, except for DCI Group. Before their financial crisis, contractors were routinely paid millions of dollars, but since 2013, almost all contractors besides DCI and DDC were paid under $500k per year. Despite ACCCE’s failing finances, DCI Group has been paid $8.8 million for PR services since 2012.
White and Partners Contracts
Between 2009 and 2012, ACCCE contracted White and Partners (now called White64) for a total of $66.3 million. In 2011, the contract with White and Partners exceeded half of ACCCE’s total revenue for that year. It appears White and Partners was also a contractor for ABEC (before it was renamed ACCCE), producing at least one commercial.
During their four-year contract, White and Partners produced a series of expensive looking TV ads for ACCCE, depicting coal interests under siege and fighting back:This ACCCE advertisement, hosted on the White64 YouTube page, depicts coal as a beaten boxer making a comeback.
In 2018, the federal credit union PenFed purchased White64.
Total: $66.3 million
- Contracts by year between 2009 and 2012:
Hawthorn Group Contracts
Hawthorn Group was contracted by ACCCE between 2008 and 2012 for an average of $2 million a year, totalling $9,878,772.
In 2009, with funds from the ACCCE contract, Hawthorn Group subcontracted Bonner & Associates, which was caught forging letters opposing federal “cap and trade” climate legislation. Representative Tom Perriello of Virginia was among the first to catch the phony letters, which were mocked up to look like were from the NAACP and other local groups that supported the Congressman.
This debacle resulted in major Congressional hearings and landed ACCCE and Hawthorn a spot in a Public Relations textbook which called it “A Dirty Campaign for Clean Coal”. ACCCE’s President, Stephen Miller, went on to publicly disparage Bonner & Associates saying, “We are outraged at the conduct of Bonner & Associates. Based upon the information we have, it is clear that an employee of Bonner’s firm failed to demonstrate the integrity we demand of all our contractors and subcontractors.” Despite this, ACCCE continued major contracts with the Hawthorn Group through 2012.
- Contracts by year between 2008 and 2012:
Democracy Data & Communications Contracts
Starting in 2015 and continuing into 2016, ACCCE contracted the controversial PR company DDC Advocacy, paying them a total of $1.5 million. DDC has hosted various advocacy websites for ACCCE, including ACCCEAdvocacy.com, a 2016 petition website that encouraged visitors to write a letter supporting coal to then-EPA administrator Gina McCarthy.
ACCCE did not continue their relationship with DDC into 2017 and only contracted DCI Group, paying them $490k for their work.
Read more about ACCCE at Sourcewatch
Read more about ACCCE at DeSmog
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