A judge will rule on whether the council violated the Open Meetings Law.
We know about the scheme to pay people to show up at meetings to support a new natural gas plant in New Orleans. But that was just a fraction of more than a million dollars the utility spent to burnish Entergy’s reputation, script support and monitor opponents.
Cantrell’s spokesman said she knew about the relationship, but “on this and on every other issue — Mayor Cantrell thinks for herself.”
Documents released to the city council cast doubt on Entergy’s contention that it didn’t know supporters would be paid to show up at public meetings to promote the power plant. An Entergy employee was told of allegations three times, as early as October. Documents also contradict the PR firm’s contention that it didn’t know, either.
A public-relations firm billed Entergy New Orleans about $55,000 to bring supporters of a new power plant to two public meetings. Some of those people were actors. Documents turned over to the city council raise questions about Entergy's claim that it didn't know supporters would be paid.
The investigation will "dig as deep as humanly possible" into the astroturfing campaign, said Council President Jason Williams.
The council has asked Entergy to preserve evidence of its astroturfing campaign.
The company said it has ended its relationship with The Hawthorn Group. It hired Crowds on Demand, which hired the actors.
Dozens of people in orange shirts showed up at meetings to support Entergy's new power plant. But for many of them, it was just an acting gig. They were paid to show up and speak on the company's behalf. The Lens interviewed a few of them and reviewed messages outlining the astroturfing effort.