Former TV actress bragged of being “politician bait” for green jobs lobbying

Imagine for a moment the following pitch being made to a room of television programming executives.

They were the pin-up girls of the 1980’s, now they’re wives of Hollywood’s entertainment industry elite.

Now, they’re headed to Washington, D.C. to use their assets and save the world.

Their target: Politicians and officials who control the policies and dollars of the federal government.

Their mission: To win support for “green” businesses and tear down evil polluting corporations using any and all means at their disposal.

Though it may sound like a pitch for just another bad summer replacement series, reality always runs ahead of fiction. Although sex and politics have always been PB&J inside the Beltway, emails I obtained describe an organized strategy by a group of Hollywood women to use sex appeal as a deception to conduct lobbying efforts.

In one of the emails sent to former green jobs czar Anthony “Van” Jones by Heather Thomas, former actress turned environmental Evita, she brazenly admits, “We are basically politician bait.”

Thomas and several other powerful Hollywood women are part of a group known as the Action Forum — also representing itself as the L.A. Leadership Council — formed as an adjunct to the National Resource Defense Council after Pres. George W. Bush’s first election in 2000. A May 2004 article in W magazine said that “the Action Forum, like some Gucci-clad squadron of avenging eco-angels, is intent upon putting its mouth where its money is—not just raising cash, but relentlessly working the system to make sure it’s spent correctly.”

In the same article, Action Forum member and former television actress Heather Thomas (now Heather Thomas Brittenham, after her marriage to prominent entertainment attorney Harry “Skip” Brittenham), outlined her job description in terms of achieving the group’s goals.

“I believe in seducing, not browbeating. I’ll always leave the senator’s office going, ‘Hey, he was kind of hot!’” Thomas dished to W’s reporter.

Sex appeal and politics have always gone together like PB&J, but emails Thomas sent to Jones — only months before he was catapulted out of the Obama administration like a plague-ridden corpse out of Pericles’ besieged Athens — detail an overt exchange of female attention for access to influential policymakers and legislators.

(Note: The text of the emails reprinted below is in exact form with regard to wording, capitalization and so forth.)

In May 2009, Thomas wrote to Jones:

I know this sounds obnoxious but this is how we work it:

We’re all LA tastemakers wielding powerful publicists, husbands, connections as well as celebrity, in most cases. We are mothers and we are all still cute.

You’re right, Ms. Thomas, that does sound obnoxious. Yet, she continued:

We all have been carefully cultivating political clout for years, specifically with environmental protection in mind.

We are basically politician bait.

We secure meetings with key lawmakers into which we smuggle NRDC scientists and lawyers and then we tell the politician what the problem is, and what we’d like them to co-sign in order to cure it – all done euphemistically with irresistible charm. Our track record is awesome. No brag, just fact. We are seasoned, we’re committed, we’re fearless and we’re in it for the long haul.

After the batting of eye lashes and strategic crossing of legs in meetings is out of the way, Thomas reveals the real purpose of the honeytrap — securing earmarks.

We believe actual testing and true regulation of toxics will generate fantastic opportunities for innovation and new jobs…

We want those companies to have a leg up.

…I’m currently compiling a list of green chemical producers… and I plan to match them up with personal wealth investor Byron Trott… my husband just gave him Oprah and he owes a favor.

Thomas also speaks about her unbridled enthusiasm for cultivating her network of highly-place contacts.

Spent the weekend dining with [Trott] and Warren Buffett at the Berkshire-Hathaway thang where we were subjected to a lot of old rich family business people whining about how scared they are of unions and “government meddling” with business. I made small talk, smiled and took lots of phone numbers for future use.

Finally, Thomas goes all in to make a full frontal assault on Jones’ male ego.

Since you are such a brilliant hero and in charge of green jobs, we are dying to meet with you and exchange ideas. Besides that we’re big fans.

Jones’ first response to Thomas was indifference to the idea of a meeting, or the value in her preaching the green gospel to him.

…you can use that time to meet with someone you need to move; i am already on your side. nonetheless, we can look for a time to talk, if you really want to… peace. van

Not to be ignored, Thomas kept pursuing Jones in an email sent the day of a scheduled visit to the Capitol.

I’ll call if I haven’t heard from you.

We’re meeting with a ton of administration people and you are high on the list!

We’ve got all the hill meeting we want anyway.


Jones’ emailed an assistant, ostensibly to check availability.

Kristin: I have cc-d you on these requests. Where do we stand? I need to be able to at least give her a hug. van

Smooth like sateen sheets, Van.

It’s like something out of a biopic of Roman-era depravity, trophy wives who peddle their sexuality to influence public policy. Cynics will see this is business as usual; idealists as something to warrant further inquiry. To me it just seems, well, slimy. Humorous but slimy.

The question obviously begs, what politicians did these sexually-accessorized lobby squads meet with? Were the focusing on soft targets, like ultra-green Van Jones and Rep. Jay Inslee (D-Wash.), or did they take on hard ones as well?


[Cross-posted by author from Red County.]

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