Guy Who Signed 'XYZ Corp.' Astroturf Letter... Worked As Telco PR Person For Nearly 3 Decades?

from the funny-how-that-works... dept

So, remember last week when we wrote about how anti-net neutrality lobbyists from AT&T had crafted astroturf letters for various "special interest groups" to sign -- but someone forgot to remove the boilerplate "XYZ Organization" in the first paragraph? We also noted that there was little evidence that the group -- the Arkansas Retired Seniors -- actually existed. However, Matt Cutts did a bit of digging and found that the name of the guy who signed the letter -- Bob Sells -- appears to have worked in PR for Southwestern Bell for 28 years (there appears to be only one Bob Sells or Robert Sells in Little Rock). Southwestern Bell, of course, became better known as SBC. SBC, of course, became AT&T after it bought the old AT&T and took on its name. So, if you're an AT&T lobbyist and you want to convince the FCC that "seniors" are against net neutrality -- and you don't want it to appear to come from AT&T employees -- who better to go to than an ex-employee? Still, next time you get a former employee to shill for you, remember to replace the bogus XYZ Organization you left for him in the text of the letter you sent him.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 26th, 2009 @ 4:06am

    There's got to be some sort of penalty for this sort of action right?

    Please don't say public embarrassment, because AT&T gets away with that already due to being a monopoly. The FCC should issue serious fines.

     

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  2.  
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    Big Truck, Oct 26th, 2009 @ 4:59am

    Obviously, Robert Sells in Little Rock is opposed to the communist government take over of his internets.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3.  
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    iamtheky (profile), Oct 26th, 2009 @ 6:50am

    While we are googling for conspiracy:

    and hes married to Georgia Sells who is DNC contributor.... so maybe they sent the letter out to those who are known sympathizers of the cause, and just happened to get lucky that her husband was willing to sign it because she wouldnt want to lose realty business by choosing sides??

    There were 3-4 other letters posted on the same day the Bob Sells was posted (all about the same thing, using remarkably similar language) all making it seem more logical that a form letter was sent out to all potentially active parties and they just got lucky with this one.

     

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  4.  
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    cl, Oct 26th, 2009 @ 7:48am

    Penalty?

    @AC Well, I guess when politicians start having to pay penalties for fabrication and lies, then the rest of us should line up to?

    A penalty for not telling the truth in a debate about lies is kinda moot don't you thing?

    @BT Hope you were being serious, because I can say I agree. I would rather those that own something have the right to make decisions on it's use or misuse than those who don't own it. But that's just me. Call me crazy but since I was about three years old I have been a big fan of the word "MINE".

     

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  5.  
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    Marcus Carab (profile), Oct 26th, 2009 @ 8:29am

    Re:

    That doesn't excuse making up a fake organization though... Anyone able to find anything on Arkansas Retired Seniors?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6.  
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    geekrawker, Oct 26th, 2009 @ 9:07am

    The guy is like 100 years old.

    I live in little rock and i just thought i would try to search him to see if he was someone i may know... i didn't find anything on Arkansas Seniors, but i did find Sells on face book. Turns out i do not know him, definitely a senior, he's as old as a dinosaur, probably didn't even know what he was signing.

    He's an easy find on FB if you search for BOB SELLS in Arkansas.

     

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  7.  
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    geekrawker, Oct 26th, 2009 @ 9:32am

    The guy is like 100 years old.

    I live in little rock and i just thought i would try to search him to see if he was someone i may know... i didn't find anything on Arkansas Seniors, but i did find Sells on face book. Turns out i do not know him, definitely a senior, he's as old as a dinosaur, probably didn't even know what he was signing.

    He's an easy find on FB if you search for BOB SELLS in Arkansas.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 26th, 2009 @ 9:35am

    "making up a fake organization..."

    Just cause you cant google it does not make it fake. Im sure plenty of very real groups, hold very real, very predatory sessions in the community rooms of retirement condos. With such a captive audience there would be no need to even advertise.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 26th, 2009 @ 9:39am

    I

    I bet this guy has been movin' on up! He just needs to be moved out now.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10.  
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    Marcus Carab (profile), Oct 26th, 2009 @ 9:48am

    Re:

    To be clear, I haven't even tried searching for it. I just read in both these blog posts that there is "little evidence that it actually existed" - which is why I'm asking. If they did make up a fake organization, that is important to know.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11.  
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    iamtheky (profile), Oct 26th, 2009 @ 11:22am

    "In one case, a letter signed by Bob Sells on behalf of the Arkansas Retired Seniors Coalition -- a group of senior citizens Sells knows -- was sent with the phrase "XYZ Corporation" in place of the group's name. Sells, a 77-year-old retired public relations executive in Little Rock, tells MediaPost that he often writes letters with placeholders and fills in the correct text later, but overlooked the reference to XYZ in this case. Sells also says he sent the letter because he's wary of government regulation in general."

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 26th, 2009 @ 11:33am

    Re: Penalty?

    Yah, I agree. For example, I should be able to drive my car however I want, including drunk, as long as I don't hurt anyone else. If I want to turn my house into a crack house or brothel I should be able to. It's MINE, ALL MINE and I should be able to do what I want with it without government interference or penalty.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13.  
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    Big Truck, Oct 26th, 2009 @ 6:58pm

    Re: Penalty?

    "@BT Hope you were being serious"

    Too subtle ?
    I'll try harder next time

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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