City Council to investigate Entergy’s use of paid actors

NEW ORLEANS – New Orleans City Council president Jason Williams announced this morning that the council will formally investigate Entergy’s use of paid actors to create the illusion of public support for a controversial power plant.

Entergy officials have admitted that subcontractor The Hawthorn Group hired a company called Crowds on Demand to fill the seats of the council chambers during a vote on a new power plant in New Orleans East.

“This body has deemed it necessary and appropriate that we do a formal and complete investigation into the use of paid actors,” Williams said.

All City Council members signed off on a letter Williams sent to Entergy demanding the company preserve all documents and communications related to the hiring of the actors.

“It was a perversion of our public process,” he said. “The use of paid actors was clearly an attempt to pervert the true purpose of public comment on matters before the council.”

The use of paid actors to fill seats, called “Astroturfing,” has not yet been found to be illegal, but Williams said that does not make it appropriate.

All costs from the investigation will be paid by Entergy if it is found to have acted inappropriately, and those costs will come directly from Entergy and not from the public.