Dark Money and Dark Journalism – Connected at the Hip? (Opinion)
By Robert Haugh
There’s been a lot of talk about dark money in this election. There’s been widespread speculation that the Santa Clara Weekly might be directly affiliated with, or connected with the dark money group BluPac, who is spending money to influence city elections but won’t reveal its donors. A lot of people believe it’s the 49ers who are the major donor. The team won’t say. That’s made it worse.
While mere speculation, there is a lot of circumstantial evidence connecting the Weekly to dark money, too – perhaps enough for an FPPC investigation.
* BluPac has published six stories on their website, all within days of being published in the Weekly. Ironically, all were written by Carolyn Schuk. I worked with Schuk for years, I know what’s she’s capable of writing and what she’s not. She’s really loose with facts and her writing rambles. So she’s more like Sarah Palin than she is Katie Couric.
Just last week, there were four articles by Schuk. They appear to be written by different people, since the writing style is different in each story.
* The only publicly known contributor to BluPac is the San Francisco Police Officer’s Association – unraveled in an article by Schuk. We wonder, how did she find that information? Schuk is not known for investigative skills. She typically attends meetings and composes a summary of who said what. We doubt she filtered through 1,000s of San Francisco filing documents for political action committees … Maybe she got that news tip from BluPac directly?
* The newspaper purchased sponsored Facebook ads on their page promoting Police Chief Mike Sellers’ re-election campaign – a candidate supported by BluPac- as well as posting a rave review of his campaign kickoff party – that’s what’s called an in-kind contribution to the campaign. It also crosses the line of journalistic integrity.
* The publication has yet to denounce any ties to BluPac or the 49ers. In fact, they’ve even printed a story that defends BluPac and their ability to hide donors. So we ask, are they being paid by BluPac?
Unfortunately, dark money and dark journalism seem to be closely connected in Santa Clara.
Robert Haugh’s column appears on Tuesdays and Thursdays.