Environmental Activist Group Lies to Reporters in Colorado, Sends Out Fake Press Release
The Colorado chapter of the Sunrise Movement stooped to a new low yesterday when it sent out a fake press release supposedly from the Denver Mayor’s office to sow confusion and try to convince people on Twitter that the mayor really declared a “climate emergency” – a move Colorado’s media was quick to call the group out on.
We’re at the @SustainableDen Summit and we are so excited that @MayorHancock, @GovofCO, and the Office of Sustainability have apologized for allowing @Suncor to sponsor the event…and are finally declaring a Climate Emergency! pic.twitter.com/DYSprJfRhK
— Sunrise Colorado 🌅 (@SunriseMvmtCO) December 5, 2019
The Sunrise Movement is a major national environmental group that has received widespread national media attention, supports the Green New Deal, and counts Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) as a major ally, while simultaneously challenging the national Democratic Party. It also has roots in the 350.org “Keep It In the Ground” group and received its initial financial support from the billionaires at the Rockefeller Family Fund – a group that’s no stranger to resorting to lies in their pursuit of destroying energy companies.
An Attempt to Peddle Lies For “As Long As Possible”
The Sunrise Movement’s deliberate deception was focused on the Sustainable Denver Summit – a gathering of business and political leaders looking to address environmental challenges. According to Colorado Public Radio, as Denver Mayor Michael Hancock addressed summit attendees, the Sunrise Movement tweeted out its fake letter that was written on official City of Denver letterhead and appeared to come from Hancock’s Office of Sustainability. The fake letter purported to offer an apology from Hancock for having Suncor – an energy company – sponsor the event and declare a “climate emergency” in the city.
But the group’s deceit didn’t just stop with Twitter. It went on to pitch the fake letter – under embargo nonetheless – to a Colorado Public Radio reporter in an attempt to generate headlines. This stunt backfired when CPR’s Michael Elizabeth Sakas realized the letter was a fake and quickly called the group out for its shady tactics in a detailed Twitter thread.
During an on-the-record conversation with @CPRNews, Sunrise explained to me that Mayor Hancock would be passing out this letter to the audience. (5/) pic.twitter.com/hEcfdMn69L
— Michael Elizabeth Sakas (@_msakas) December 6, 2019
The group then told Sakas they aimed to trick reporters for “as long as possible.”
The letter wasn’t real. But Sunrise told me their plan was to make the media believe the letter was real for “as long as possible.”
We never would have run this story without confirmation from the mayor’s office, but their attempt to have us publish it as truth WAS real. (9/)
— Michael Elizabeth Sakas (@_msakas) December 6, 2019
Sakas’ CPR colleague Sam Brasch, who covers energy and environment, sharply criticized the group for lying to reporters.
There’s respecting the ref. There’s working the ref. Then there’s trying to trick the ref to gain attention. @SunriseMvmtCO: no one’s doubting the urgency of climate change — but plz don’t lie to reporters? https://t.co/8XqXyrgsIA
— Sam Brasch (@samuelbrasch) December 6, 2019
The situation is all the more ironic considering the Sunrise Movement likes to allege falsehoods from energy companies without any proof.
It’s also not the Sunrise Movement’s first involvement with the press that was less than impressive. In May, the group blocked a Washington Examiner reporter from covering their rally.
I am not comfortable drawing attention to myself, and away from my work, but as @sunrisemvmt begins their D.C. rally with @AOC and @SenSanders, I thought it was important to say that Sunrise would not grant me a credential to attend the event because I work for the @dcexaminer.
— Joshua Siegel (@SiegelScribe) May 13, 2019
Politicians Are Quick to Embrace The Sunrise Movement
The Sunrise Movement is backing underdog political candidates across the county who support its extreme views and tactics.
The group recently made a splash in Colorado after endorsing Andrew Romanoff in the contested Democratic Senate primary in a sharp rebuke to frontrunner and former Governor John Hickenlooper and his support for the oil and gas industry.
BREAKING: Sunrise proudly endorses Andrew Romanoff for US Senate! We could not be more excited to support Romanoff’s progressive campaign to champion the #GreenNewDeal on behalf of all Coloradans. @Romanoff2020
— Sunrise Colorado 🌅 (@SunriseMvmtCO) November 18, 2019
Romanoff hasn’t yet commented on the Sunrise Movement’s trickery, and even after the CPR story exposed its fake letter, he was still touting his work with the group on Twitter.
Yes! Join us at the Union Station fountains at 11 am Friday & demand #ClimateActionNow. https://t.co/EIpSBhyOI6
— Andrew Romanoff (@Romanoff2020) December 6, 2019
As the calendar turns toward 2020 and the upcoming election, expect more stunts like this. After all, activist groups continue to show they care more about capturing headlines than achieving real results to provide cleaner energy through the innovation like that happening every day in the oil and gas sector.
For politicians like Andrew Romanoff and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez who have received support from the Sunrise Movement, it might be time to reconsider if it’s worth staking their reputation on a group that deliberately lies to the media and the public.