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Energy company busted for hiring actors to pose as activists in New Orleans

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An investigation uncovering a company that pays actors to pose as activists takes the concept of “paid protester” from right-wing fever dream to reality.

The Poynter Institute highlighted the work of journalists at The Lens, a New Orleans news outlet that investigated orange shirt-wearing individuals who attended city council meetings about a slated power plant project — and discovered that they weren’t what they seemed.

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The nonprofit website reported that many of the people who attended those meetings in support of the plant project by the Entergy Corporation were hired by the Los Angeles-based company “Crowds on Demand.”

“At least four of the people in orange shirts were professional actors. One actor said he recognized 10 to 15 others who work in the local film industry,” Michael Isaac Stein of the Lens wrote based on interviews with actors and screenshots provided to the nonprofit outlet. “They were paid $60 each time they wore the orange shirts to meetings in October and February. Some got $200 for a ‘speaking role,’ which required them to deliver a pre-written speech.”

Keith Keough, one of the people hired by Crowds on Demand for the Entergy meetings, told the Lens he was paid “every time someone said something against wind and solar power.”

The Lens also acquired what it believes is Crowds on Demand’s non-disclosure agreement for actors that repeatedly tells them to “tell nobody you’re being paid.”

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Along with the Lens‘ investigation, other New Orleans-based groups and individuals — including Michael Brown, an attorney for the city’s Sierra Club chapter — delved into the backgrounds of the orange-clad protesters holding signs in favor of the Entergy plant that often showed up to council meetings in such numbers that others could not enter the chambers. They all reached the same conclusion as Brown: “there was something off.”

When asked about the actors, Entergy initially denied they’d hired them and then blamed The Hawthorn Group, a public relations firm it had hired. An internal document revealed that Hawthorn appeared to instruct Entergy to deny the allegations, and called one paid demonstrator that went on the record “delusional or lying.”

In light of the revelations, the New Orleans City Council is investigating Entergy’s alleged use of actors at its meetings and may reconsider the contract for their latest power plant.

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Mulvaney’s ‘astonishing public act of legal self-destruction’ can be used against Trump: ex-prosecutor

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In the opening segment on CNN's "New Day," former prosecutor Elie Honig claimed he was stunned by acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney's press conference on Thursday, saying he just handed prosecutors all they need to go after President Donald Trump.

Speaking with hosts Alisyn Camerota and John Berman, the former prosecutor  could only describe Mulvaney's presser, where he admitted that the administration was indulging in quid pro quo negotiations with foreign governments to get dirt on political opponents, as an "astonishing public act of legal and strategic self-destruction."

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Why key Senate Republicans should be terrified as Trump drags the party down

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Incumbent Republican senators in swing states and blue states find themselves caught between a rock and a hard place. On one hand, criticizing President Donald Trump can result in a burdensome GOP primary battle; on the other hand, being perceived as pro-Trump can be the kiss of death in places where Trump is unpopular. And according to a report by Eli Yokley for Morning Consult’s website, things aren’t getting any better for incumbent GOP senators who are considered vulnerable in the 2020 election.

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‘It was nutso’: Devin Nunes reportedly made himself look ridiculous by obsessing over the Steele Dossier in Ukraine hearing

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While the House Intelligence Committee is spearheading impeachment with its investigation into President Donald Trump’s Ukraine scandal, it seems Republican Rep. Devin Nunes of California can’t stop obsessing about the Steele Dossier.

According to the Daily Beast, the ranking member of the committee launched into an exchange during the closed impeachment inquiry hearings about the dossier on Thursday with Gordon Sondland, the ambassador to the European Union who is at the center of the Ukraine scandal. He was a point person in Trump’s efforts to get the Ukrainians to announce an investigation into the 2016 election as well as former Vice President Joe Biden in exchange for favorable treatment from the White House.

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