In recent months, Trout Unlimited's national staff has become aware of an aggressive public relations campaign aimed at TU and several other prominent conservation organizations.
A Washington DC-based individual has been submitting opinion commentaries and letters to the editor accusing Trout Unlimited of having a hidden "left-wing environmental agenda."
The national staff sincerely appreciates the grassroots leaders and members who have contacted their state Council leaders and/or TU staff members after seeing the letters and commentaries, and thanks those who have submitted responses.
The submissions are from Will Coggin, who lists himself as a "Senior Policy Analyst" with the "Environmental Policy Alliance."
In fact, Coggin is associated with Berman & Company, Inc., a for-profit lobbying and public relations firm that specializes in creating nonprofit front groups such as this "EPA" to shield the identities of clients whose agendas would not sit well with the general public. The firm's owner, Rick Berman, recently detailed this approach in a speech at an energy conference in Colorado. One attendee who felt uncomfortable with the pitch leaked a video of the presentation to the New York Times.
Berman & Company's methods, which are clearly exposed in a recent article in Hatch Magazine, do not sit well with many in the extraction, energy and agriculture industries, plenty of whom strive to be conscientious stewards of coldwater resources and who often provide funding for and support TU projects and initiatives. Still, Berman & Company was able to stir up enough concern to fund this effort against TU and other sportsmen conservation groups – including the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership, the Izaak Walton League of America and Backcountry Hunters and Anglers – that seek sensible protections for our nation's critical fish and wildlife habitat.
The hard work and dedication of TU's grassroots volunteers are featured daily in positive news coverage around the country. We can expect that each of those stories will elicit a form letter from Coggin. Most publications will do their due diligence and not publish the misldeading attacks, but a few letters will slip through the cracks. In those cases, TU's grassroots leaders are encouraged to inform Council leaders and/or TU communications staffers for guidance on appropriate responses.
Communications staff contacts are [they can be contacted through TU]:
Chris Hunt, nationals communications director
Paula Dobbyn, Alaska
Sam Davidson, California
Shauna Sherard, Pacific Northwest
Randy Scholfield, Southwest
Mark Taylor, East.