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Accuser accused

| Friday, Feb. 6, 2015, 8:57 p.m.

Trout Unlimited appreciates the Leader Times' coverage of the Arrowhead Chapter and our plans to remove acid mine drainage from Huling Run in Armstrong County. That story prompted a letter from Will Coggin of the Washington, D.C., Environmental Policy Alliance ( “Hidden agenda” ).

Ironically, Coggin accused Trout Unlimited of having a hidden agenda. In truth, Trout Unlimited has always been open about its goals and funding sources, which includes a diverse group of grass-roots members, environmentally focused foundations and even representatives from the energy, mining and agriculture industries.

Conversely, Coggin's group is hardly as forthright about its agenda and funding sources. Basic research shows that this “alliance” is one of many nonprofit front groups established by Rick Berman & Co., a lobbying and PR firm. Those front groups serve to hide the funding sources for smear campaigns on behalf of clients who don't want to be publicly associated with those shady efforts.

Nonprofit watchdog organizations, like Charity Navigator, offer warnings about Berman-established nonprofits. However, one can understand the appeal to clients whose real agendas would not sit well with the general public. Berman's clientele don't want to be known for opposing commonsense protections to clean water. Who would? But Berman and his hired guns will be happy to take the heat. For a fee, of course.

Joseph T. Mercurio

The writer is legislative action chairman for the Trout Unlimited Arrowhead Chapter in New Kensington.

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