By Michael Isaac Stein, Contributing writer
thelensnola.org | The Lens
Corralling a group of supporters at public hearings was a vital part of Entergy New Orleans’ campaign to gain approval for its new power plant — so vital that its executives monitored exactly how many supporters would come, what they would say, and how early they would get there. They even helped design the T-shirts supporters would wear.
Yet there was one question Entergy apparently never asked the public-relations firm hired to orchestrate the campaign: How would these so-called supporters be recruited?
And when word started to spread that the supporters were paid to show up, the point person at Entergy didn’t ask the PR firm if there was any truth to the rumors. Instead, she asked for talking points in case Entergy executives were publicly confronted with the allegations.
Those details are contained in a trove of documents that Entergy turned over to the New Orleans City Council last week.
The documents cast doubt on Entergy’s central defense in the astroturfing scandal: that it hired a PR firm, The Hawthorn Group, to bring supporters to those meetings, but the power company didn’t know those supporters would be paid.
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