Larry Steckling 6 p.m., March 31
KPBS investigation: U-T discounted anti-Filner ads
Practice appears to be violation of campaign finance rules
KPBS and inewsource, in an excellent investigative report released this morning (April 5), reveal what many San Diegans suspected: the barrages of anti-Filner ads run in the Union-Tribune prior to the mayoralty election were discounted. KPBS and inewsource audited ads in the U-T between Labor Day and Election Day 2012, and compared the list with campaign finance records. "The results show varied payments for ads, indicating the U-T may have offered bargains to the anti-Filner campaign," says KPBS in a story with the bylines of Ryann Grochowski and Amita Sharma. The amount that appeared to be spent on the anti-Filner ads did not correlate with campaign disclosures. The paper was charging Filner $8,000 per full-page ad. "Campaign finance disclosures, however, showed the other side paid far less."
Dan Schnur, former chairman of the California Fair Political Practices Commission, said, "It's clearly not appropriate for a news organization to make that kind of contribution without reporting it," according to the KPBS/inewsource report. U-T owner Doug Manchester didn't respond to requests for interview. U-T chief executive John Lynch said the U-T offered a package deal to campaigns, but refused to provide a copy of the offer or its details. Filner's opponent, Carl DeMaio, whom the paper endorsed in front-page editorials, did not return a call for comment.
The joke, of course, is that the barrage of hate-Filner ads almost certainly backfired. Filner astutely used the U-T's blatant bias as a campaign issue. Filner won by a wider margin than many had expected.
In my opinion, this investigative report is one more nail in the coffin of both the U-T and DeMaio. Recently, the U-T ran a front page screed attacking negative information that was put together on DeMaio. This common practice utterly pales by comparison with this morning's report -- in fact, some such as myself considered the U-T story just another propaganda piece for DeMaio, who, according to reliable rumors, intends to run for Congress.
"According to local, state, and federal campaign experts, discounting ads for certain political candidates can be against the law," says the KPBS/inewsource report.
More like this:
- Congressman Peters and the dark arts — Nov. 14, 2014
- Papa Doug hasn't forgotten Carl D. — Oct. 10, 2013
- San Diegans could be last to know who's paying for Filner recall — Aug. 16, 2013
- Sheriff reportedly plotting mayor's ouster got funds from Lynch, Blue, hotel interests, report says — Aug. 6, 2013
- Another unreported DeMaio contribution disclosed by Sheppard Mullin law firm — April 1, 2013