Bonner Beats Rap for Astroturf Lobbying

PR Watch has reported in the past on the questionable tactics of Bonner & Associates, which specializes in "astroturf" (artificial grassroots) organizing for corporate clients. Earlier this year, Jack Bonner was charged with ethics violations in Maryland, but the Maryland State Ethics Commission has cleared him of charges that he used deceptive tactics on behalf of the pharmaceutical industry. "The education fund's complaint was filed after an article in The Sun detailed how PhRMA and Bonner & Associates were attempting to defeat prescription drug legislation in Maryland and other states by teaming with obscure nonprofit community groups. ... Bonner & Associates teamed with a Michigan-based group called the Consumer Alliance. In exchange for seed money from PhRMA, Consumer Alliance tried ... making legislators think there was a groundswell of grass-roots opposition." Was Bonner really innocent, or does the ethics commission just have really low standards? Read the original story from the Baltimore Sun and decide for yourself.