WASHINGTON, D.C.—The SUV Owners of America, a group dedicated to stifling criticism of SUVs and their owners, has retained automotive public affairs specialist firm [email protected]. One of the firm’s principals, Ron DeFore, is serving as communications director for the group, and Jason Vines, former head of public relations at Ford, is also involved in the program.
Last week, SUVOA delivered a petition with more than 600 signatures to opponents of SUVs, asking them to curtail their criticism after the radical environmental group Earth Liberation Front torched an auto dealership in southern California.
The petition is being sent to Ariana Huffington, who created the anti-SUV Detroit Project; her colleague Robert Kennedy, Jr., of the Natural Resources Defense Council; the Rev. Jim Ball, creator of the “What Would Jesus Drive?” campaign; and Fenton Communications, the public affairs firm behind both the Detroit Project and “What Would Jesus Drive?” campaigns.
“Last week’s events underscore a dangerous irony: Huffington’s irresponsible efforts to link SUV owners with Mideast terrorists actually are giving aid and comfort to domestic terrorists like those who torched the West Covina dealership,” says Ron DeFore. “While Huffington and like-minded zealots have spent tens of thousands of dollars condemning SUV owners, they refuse to take any responsibility for providing moral cover for radical domestic terrorist groups that have been vandalizing SUVs, homes and apartment buildings.”
After the Bush administration accused Democratic opponents of oil drilling in Alaska of aiding terrorism (by increasing U.S. dependence on Middle Eastern oil), Huffington launched an ad campaign making the same charge against owners of the gas-guzzling vehicles. “The What Would Jesus Drive?” campaign, meanwhile, focused on the environmental impact of SUVs.
SUVOA was formed in 1999 to give voice to the 24 million SUV owners in the U.S. Since re-launching the new SUVOA Web site in May, the group has accumulated 16,818 supporters.