Entergy Admits To Hiring Contractor That Paid Actors

May 14, 2018
Originally published on May 11, 2018 12:16 pm

The controversy continues over actors who were paid to attend public meetings and speak in support of a new Entergy power plant in New Orleans East.

The city recently approved a plan by Entergy to build a new gas-fired power plant. Opponents have fought it for several years, saying the plant is unnecessary and will pollute the surrounding area – where many Vietnamese and African American residents live.

Some of the public meetings have been heated.  A report by The Lens last week revealed some of the people who showed up to support the new plant were actually paid actors.

In a statement issued Thursdsay, the company acknowledged that it hired a private PR firm, Hawthorne Group, which then hired another company, Crowds on Demand. Crowds on Demand then paid about 100 people to attend the meetings and pose as supporters of the plant.

Opponents of the plant held a press conference at City Hall Thursday.

Janice Long, of the social justice organization Justice and Beyond, wants the Council to rescind approval of the plant.

"This is corrupt, and that's not how we want our city to run. We want the people to be able to have access in a democratic way to the processes for vetting Entergy's project through the City Council," says Long.

Monique Harden is a lawyer with the Deep South Center for Environmental Justice, which has filed a lawsuit against the city over the plant.

"I've never ever come across a situation where when you go into a public hearing you are in the midst of people who have been who are actors," says Harden.

City counselors plan to launch their own investigation into the matter.

Copyright 2018 WWNO - New Orleans Public Radio. To see more, visit WWNO - New Orleans Public Radio.