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Kelley distances self from online petition submitted in his name

Tuesday afternoon, in an interview with the Daily News, State Rep. Dan Kelley of Newton distanced himself from an online Credo Mobilize petition he said was posted in his name.

“I agreed to have them put my name on it, but I didn’t know what it said,” he said. “After I saw what the petition said, I asked them to take it down.”

The petition, which was still active as of this morning, is one of several on the Credo website, calling on major daily newspapers across the United States to stop publishing letters to the editor from “climate change deniers,” or those who do not support the notion that humanity is responsible for climate change. The call to action on the petition reads:

It is the job of newspapers to inform viewers of factual information, not promote lies about climate change. Implement a formal policy of refusing to publish any letters to the editor or other content that denies climate change.

Credo members were alerted to the petition via email Monday. Like the notices for petitions to other newspapers across the United States, it notes a recent announcement from the Los Angeles Times that it would no longer publish letters that “deny climate change.”

The email included several quotations attributed to Kelley. Based on those quotations, it appears the petition was launched by Kelley himself, although he denies drafting the text.

“As a state legislator, I’m proud to represent constituents who work at two major manufacturers of wind turbine blades and towers that help other states follow our lead,” Kelley is attributed as saying on the Credo website, and in the alert email purportedly sent out on his behalf. “But as a faithful reader of the Des Moines Register, living in a state that invests so much in the future of energy, it’s especially disappointing when I see the Register print letters from climate change deniers who want to tie our state to the dirty fuels of the past.”

Like many of the other Credo petitions, the petition targeting the Des Moines Register states that “by ‘reporting both sides’ and giving climate change deniers equal space to promote their lies, large swaths of the news media have failed to do their job of informing the public.” It also states the Register is misleading the public by “printing errors of fact about climate change.”

The petition concludes the Los Angeles Times announcement was a “step in the right direction” and that the Des Moines Register should be pressured to follow suit. In distancing himself from the petition, however, Kelley did say he agreed with the Los Angeles Times’ new policy.

“I think the LA Times made a good decision, but I’m not trying to institute it at other newspapers,” he said. “I think newspapers should maybe consider a disclaimer, like ‘Climate change is established science, read the following letter at your own risk,’ or something like that.”

But, the Credo email and online petition both identify “State Rep. Dan Kelley” as the author. Kelley is identified as both a lawmaker and a “Credo activist,” although the current petition is the only one on the site in his name.

The website also carries the following disclaimer:

These petitions are all user-submitted and created. Credo Action may not necessarily endorse and support every petition on this site.

Credo Action is a politically liberal effort to mobilize its more than 3 million members to activism on an array of issues ranging from financial reform and environmental and food protection policy to protecting abortion rights in the U.S. Its petition website, Credo Mobilize, is a relatively new project that allows members to start and run their own campaigns.

“We’re offering this platform to Credo Action members to enact change at the local and national level by providing you with the tools to start, run, and deliver your own campaigns,” the website states.

Credo Action is an offshoot of Credo Mobile, which sells color-coded cell phones to support “progressive nonprofits” — politically liberal initiatives — to the tune of $75 million over the course of its brief history. It provides funding to groups such as American Civil Liberties Union and Planned Parenthood, as well as The Brennan Center for Justice and Doctors Without Borders.

In 2012, it launched Credo SuperPAC, which targeted “Tea Party Republicans” in the General Election.

“We [played] a major role in defeating five of the worst Tea Party Republicans in Congress,” the Credo Action website states. “In the process, we rewrote the book on superPACs, raising $2.5 million from 70,000 small donors for a volunteer-driven campaign that went toe-to-toe with big money and corporate interests — and won. We also helped win 24 key state initiative fights for marriage equality, the environment, human rights and sanity in election spending.”

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