Screen shot of audio recording.As far as gotcha journalism goes, you’re not going to do a lot better than Mike Stark’s takedown of coal industry PR flak Lauri Hennessey.

Hennessey loves to posture as an environmentalist, often citing her roots in the Northwest or her former employment at the EPA. Yet she’s the spokesperson for a major coal industry front group—one that’s pushing huge export terminals in order to ship hundreds of millions of tons of low-grade coal to Asia.

In public, she feigns concern about global warming and pollution, but in private she mocks the public process and thinks it’s funny her employers deny the reality of climate change. Sightline has called her out before for taking money from big coal. And now thanks to Mike Stark, we really have the goods.

Stark recently attended a big coal conference where he was able to record Hennessey talking and joking with a senior VP of Arch Coal. The recording and transcript posted over at DeSmogBlog make for a case study in duplicity and hypocrisy. If it wasn’t clear before, it is now: she is a key player in the coal industry, and an affront to the Northwest’s heritage of clean energy, progress, and basic honesty.

I’m curious. What do Sightline’s readers think of starting a Lauri Hennessey divestment campaign? As it happens, she runs a small communications consulting firm on the side where she has the gall to tout her environmental values. She claims that her clients include the City of Seattle, the Greater Seattle YMCA, and the Lifelong AIDS Alliance. Would it be worth contacting her clients to see how they feel about hiring a member of the coal industry to handle their communications?

Let me know what you think.


Update 10/10/13: A senior official at the City of Seattle informs me that the City has reviewed its relationship with Hennessey. There is only a single contract on record and it dates to 2007, which of course predates the current administration as well as the Northwest’s coal exports debate.

October 8, 2013