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.

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Companies: at&t, sbc, southwestern bell

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Comments on “Guy Who Signed 'XYZ Corp.' Astroturf Letter… Worked As Telco PR Person For Nearly 3 Decades?”

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13 Comments
iamtheky (profile) says:

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.

cl says:

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”.

Anonymous Coward says:

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.

geekrawker (user link) says:

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.

geekrawker (user link) says:

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.

iamtheky (profile) says:

“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.”

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