I'm glad that you wrote about this story. And the only reason we know about it is because the Seattle Times asked for a document that was available to the public.
We know that this is happening a lot in the corporate world, would disclosure help? Or would it just be ignored?
Is it because it is a public utility? Do they have to suffer the slings and arrows of malicious hit pieces and private companies don't?
Is it because they took a short cut and went right to the writers and not to a PR firm who pitched a story?
I think of the Pete Peterson people hiring Washington Post "journalists" to do special sections on why cutting the deficit is the most important thing on the planet. We know they were paid, did we discount them or did it sneak into our consciousnesses with multiple repetition from multiple "credible" sources?
If we are going to have a "blogger ethics panel" for these writers are we going to do the same for our high level "journalists?"