Friday, September 16, 2011

San Diego’s Fox News

Cross posted from Two Cathedrals

On Wednesday, the San Diego-Imperial Counties Labor Council called on KUSI to acknowledge their broadcast of the station-sponsored special report, “Pension Reform: The Fight to Get it on the Ballot,” as a campaign contribution. The Labor Council’s claim is based on the fact that the “special report” was explicitly produced for the purpose of advocating for qualification of a ballot measure. For anyone who watched the hour and a half long CPR commercial (and I did), it would be impossible to draw any other conclusion.

Regardless, last night, KUSI threw moon-sized softball questions to Mayor Sanders, San Diego City Councilmen Carl DeMaio and Kevin Faulconer, Assemblyman Nathan Fletcher, San Diego County Taxpayers Association chief Lani Lutar, and failed San Diego City Council candidate April Boling. KUSI also carried water for the Comprehensive Pension Reform campaign by pointing out the specific locations of signature-gathering sites.

That KUSI acts as a mouthpiece for the SDGOP and Republican politicians and candidates across the region is no earth-shattering conclusion. No pearls shall be clutched. Appearances by Republican elected officials on the morning and evening news are almost a daily occurrence. And then there’s John Coleman. The daily right-leaning bias would be nothing but funny if folks didn’t accidentally arrive at their evening broadcast, if only because it airs before TMZ on TV.

If the pension reform infomercial meets the legal definition of a campaign contribution is a matter better left to the lawyers, but KUSI’s role as the free advertising network and media attack dog for the Republican Party is as brazen as it is unethical.

Over the last year, we’ve seen KUSI pride itself on its hard-hitting investigations into the personal lives and relationships of appointed public servants and city employees who share nothing but similar space within the crosshairs of Tony Krvaric.

So with the aid of a private investigator named Google, we decided to find out a little bit more about KUSI. What you’re about to read may shock you, but likely not.

KUSI is owned and operated by Channel 51 of San Diego, Inc., a wholly-owned subsidiary of McKinnon Broadcasting. McKinnon Broadcasting is owned by the McKinnon family, which is made up of Dan, Michael, Clinton, and Michael Jr. The McKinnon’s aren’t passive, disengaged owners of the station. Michael McKinnon currently serves as Station Manager.

The McKinnon family, including their spouses, has donated over $150,000 to Republican candidates and committees, over half of which into the pockets of San Diego congressmen and the SDGOP. Here is a breakdown of the most popular recipients of KUSI family money.

  • 24 donations totaling $17,020 to disgraced, pay-for-play Republican former Congressman Randy “Duke” Cunningham.
  • $18,650 to Republican Congressman Brian Bilbray, who makes regular visits to KUSI when he returns from Washington, DC.
  • $21,000 in contribution to now-retired Republican Congressman Duncan Hunter ($26,000 if you count a $5,000 contribution to Hunter’s “Peace Through Strength” PAC) and an additional $11,450 to his son, current Congressman Duncan D. Hunter. Hunter Sr. was also a frequent guest on KUSI.
  • $8300 has been contributed to the San Diego County Republican Central Committee under the tenure of Tony Krvaric.
  • $52,500 in contributions to the National Republican Congressional Committee.

Clearly, supporting Republicans candidates and policies isn’t just an editorial priority of KUSI as a television station, it is a long-term financing project of its owners and its station manager. More accurately, the telethon was an example of KUSIs increasing level of comfort in blurring the lines between journalism and advocacy on behalf of its owner’s long-standing political agenda.

The station, more than ever, exists as part of a larger funding strategy to defeat Democrats and impose conservative ideology on San Diegans and that is the reason that Democratic politicians and left-leaning organizations are hesitant about appearing on KUSI.

The option presented to liberals is often to appear pre-taped and subject to editorialized bookends from the stations anchors, as was the option presented to Labor Council Secretary-Treasurer Lorena Gonzalez for the pension telethon. Gonzalez offered to do it live, but that would have ruined the KUSI’s pre-determined script. KUSI declined.

Here is case in point from last nights program.

Congressman Bob Filner appeared in a pre-recorded interview and fielded these questions:

“Obviously the unions are vehemently opposed to this ballot measure that Carl DeMaio is pushing, why not let the voters decided? Isn’t that the way Democracy works?”

“Why are they (the unions) so afraid of this (television) program? And why will they not come out and say why they’re afraid of the ballot measure itself?”

“The DeMaio plan… proposes to save $1.2 billion by 2040, will your plan do that?”

These were the only questions. The first two questions raised the issue of unions and even alleged that the Filner pension plan and Filner’s candidacy were union-sanctioned. The last question effectively grants a claim about potential savings made by DeMaio and the CPR campaign, even though that claim has been described as false and misleading. Immediately after the interview, the two anchors took shots at the Congressman’s pension plan before kicking it to DeMaio, then Lutar, then Boling, etc, for additional spin and counterpoints.

KUSI is a fix, a set-up, an argument where the only thing written is the conclusion. It’s a game that Democrats are not intended to win. It’s not journalism. The idea that the pension telethon was either an isolated incident or a mere overextension of an existing ideological preference at the station tragically shorts the McKinnon family’s long history of conservative political action and financial support. It’s time that we start calling KUSI what it is, San Diego’s Fox News.

- By Jason Everitt

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

KUSI Called Upon To Acknowledge Campaign Contribution to CPR Campaign

Contact: Evan McLaughlin
Cell #: 619-850-2790

KUSI Called Upon To Acknowledge Campaign Contribution to CPR Campaign

Broadcast of Station-Sponsored Sign-A-Thon Must Include Disclaimer Like Other Campaign Commercials

SAN DIEGO – (Wednesday, September 14, 2011) – An attorney for the Just Say No, San Diego campaign demanded this morning that KUSI-TV acknowledge the 90-minute pension initiative “Sign-A-Thon” it plans to air on Thursday evening is a reportable campaign contribution to the ballot measure’s campaign committee, not news.

In a letter to the station’s general manager this morning, attorney Stephen Kauffman notified KUSI that its Sign-A-Thon triggers disclosure requirements because communications to the campaign indicate the program’s purpose is advocacy for the qualification of the ballot measure.  If the station fails to add a written disclosure during the show or fails to report a campaign contribution, formal complaints will be filed with the San Diego Ethics Commission and the state’s Fair Political Practices Commission.

“The monetary value of KUSI’s Sign-A-Thon is unknown to us, but 90 minutes of evening programming on the station is very significant,” said Evan McLaughlin, a spokesman with the Just Say No, San Diego campaign. “KUSI admits they’re providing major resources to aid the petition gathering efforts, so they need to come clean about being a financial supporter by disclosing that to their viewers and the voting public.”

The Sign-A-Thon is being promoted by KUSI and supporters of the pension ballot measure campaign as an effort to advertise in favor of having San Diego voters sign petitions to qualify the initiative for the June 2012 ballot. The proponents have until Oct. 14 to submit 94,346 valid signatures of City of San Diego voters in order to qualify the measure.

The Just Say No, San Diego campaign has been notified by KUSI that a response to the letter is forthcoming today. The letter is attached.

The “Just Say No, San Diego” campaign is a sponsored committee of the San Diego and Imperial Counties Labor Council, 4305 University Ave. #340, San Diego, CA  92108. ID # 1338947.


Tuesday, September 13, 2011

New Mayoral Polling Out

Well, lookie who's got a poll out - Carl DeMaio's campaign just released the results from a poll done last week.  Now, weirdly, and a bit ham-handedly, the poll did not allow people to be undecided because, and I'm quoting here:  

An “undecided” option was not provided to respondents because of how the question was phrased.  If the election were held today respondents would not be able to check the “undecided” box.  The undecided option allows respondents to answer a question different than the one asked.


There are two problems with this poll: First, the fact that there are no "undecideds" in a poll this early in the election season is highly suspect.  What happened when the respondents asked the interviewer who the candidates were?  Again, at this early stage, even basic information given to the respondents could amount to push polling (where the interviewer asks questions or makes statements to get a specific result).

Second, the Republicans are way oversampled.  According to the most recent data I could collect, Democrats are 41% of the San Diego City electorate, here they are 37%.  Republicans are 29% of the electorate, but make up 35% of the sampling.  So, this poll is going to give a slight advantage to the Republicans.

That said, as polls go, this one tells us pretty much what is conventional wisdom - that DeMaio is way ahead of the pack at 39%, that Democrats are coalescing around Filner at 28%, and that Dumanis and Fletcher are further back at 19% and 10% respectively.  And remember, this poll slightly oversamples Republicans.  Now, given that everyone not named Nathan Fletcher have healthy name ID, I expect Fletcher's numbers to come up at the expense of Dumanis and DeMaio.  Filner is probably going to come up as well (at the expense of Dumanis, mostly), as more and more Democrats figure out who he is.

And so it begins....

Well just when you thought it couldn't get any crazier in the South Bay. It did. With Bob Filner running for Mayor that left his seat open. The moment after Bob finished his sentence declaring his run for Mayor, Juan Vargas said he was running for his seat. Which was as surprising as the Sun rising in the east. I mean Vargas has run for the seat a number of times and for a long created a bitter feud in the South Bay with Filner on one hand and Vargas on the other. This feud played out in every political contest in the South Bay for years.
Now with Filner out of the way it was now Vargas to inherit the seat that he has been coveting for time immemorial. But not so fast...

With Denise Ducheny now resigning her position and declaring her intention to run for that same seat has now thrown that easy slide into office into an actual campaign. Ducheny is no wall flower and has a lot of respect and contacts throughout the state and elsewhere and Vargas knows this which is why he preempted Ducheny's annoucement with a call to abolish the State Unemployment commission and take the time to attack her personally as well.

The crazy thing is this is only Day one and Vargas knows this will be a long hard slog on a campaign which could conceivably go until November.

NEWS RELEASE: DeMaio Campaign’s Use Of Pension Signers’ Information Equates To Identity Theft, Campaign Law Violations

Contact: Evan McLaughlin
Cell: (619) 850-2790

DeMaio Campaign’s Use Of Pension Signers’ Information Equates To Identity Theft, Campaign Law Violations

DeMaio Enters Signers’ Info Into Mayoral Campaign Database, But It Can Only Be Used For Qualification Of Measure

SAN DIEGO – (Tuesday, September 13, 2011) – The “Just Say No, San Diego” campaign has obtained documents from the Carl DeMaio for Mayor 2012 campaign illustrating the city councilman inappropriately stole voter identification information from a ballot measure petition, a violation of California campaign laws.

Voter lists used by petition gatherers who walk door-to-door show that initiative signers have been entered into the DeMaio mayoral campaign’s voter file database.

The voter sheets, which are clearly marked as being generated by the “Carl DeMaio for Mayor” campaign in the bottom left corner,  include a field next to voters’ names and addresses to indicate whether the voter had signed the petition.

Such information about the identity of petition signers cannot be used by the mayoral campaign or for any purpose except qualifying the petition, according to the State of California’s Elections Code.

“California law prohibits the use of signatures, names and addresses gathered on initiative petitions for any purpose other than to qualify the initiative measure for the ballot. This means that the petitions cannot be used to create or add to mailing lists or similar lists for any purpose, including fundraising or requests 'for support. Any such misuses constitutes a crime under California law.” Elections Code § 18650; Bilofsky v. Deukmejian (1981) 124 Cai.App.3d 825, 177 Cai.Rptr. 621; 63 Ops.Cai.Atty.Gen. 37 (1980).

The “Just Say No, San Diego” campaign plans to notify law enforcement of this violation immediately.

The “Just Say No, San Diego” campaign is a sponsored committee of the San Diego and Imperial Counties Labor Council, 4305 University Ave. #340, San Diego, CA  92108. ID # 1338947.


SDUT: Ducheny to resign post with congressional run in the offing

Former Democratic Sen. Denise Ducheny said she plans to resign her post on the California Unemployment Appeals Board on Tuesday, further signaling a run in the congressional district being vacated by Rep. Bob Filner.

Read the article here.

Monday, September 12, 2011

CapitolAlert: California state senator takes swipe at former lawmakers

In a swipe at a potential rival for the 51st congressional district, Sen. Juan Vargas issued an oddly-timed press release Monday demanding that "termed out, drunk-driving legislators" step down from the California Unemployment Appeals Board.

Vargas, D-San Diego, went on to list six former lawmakers on the seven-member board, with the parenthetical note "Drunk-driving arrest" next to the names of former Sens. Roy Ashburn and Denise Moreno Ducheny.

Read he blog post here.