Dark Money and Dark Journalism – Connected at the Hip? (Opinion)

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?

sellersweeklyfb* 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.


  1. “There’s been widespread speculation that the Santa Clara Weekly might be directly affiliated with, or connected with the dark money group BluPac.”
    The job of the journalist is to find veracity and report it in a way for the readers to easily understand. By putting the words “might be” doesn’t excuse the journalist from doing his/her research–opinion or not.

  2. I did read the SC Weekly until last week when I left a message on my front step for them not to deliver it anymore even though I have a subscription. The Carolyn Schuk by-line on anything means it is an opinion piece even when she does have a fact or two in it. Her lack of journalistic integrity, let alone ability, and the unsupported innuendo from the previous week’s articles and editorial finally were too much. I see you also comment on that.
    The young fellow, Andrews or something like that, is not bad, but he only contributes occasionally. I think there is a need for a good unbiased source of local news, Santa Clara is becoming a sizable city, but that paper is just so egregious with its opinions. I don’t know if such a thing can be made into an economic proposition but I would encourage any attempt in that direction.

  3. It’s funny (not ha ha funny) how the 49ers becoming entrenched in Santa Clara led to a local election fraught with shenanigans that we have never experienced before.

  4. It should be noted that the 49ers spent $5M on campaigning for the passage of Measure J to build a stadium. The 49er front office have donated thousands of dollars to past candidates such as Matthews, Kolstad and Caserta. So now the suspected 49er favorites are saying they are not taking any 49er contributions. Do you expect the 49er organization, given their past behavior, to observe silently on the side line when so much is at stake for them? If so, you are very naive.

  5. In 2012, I attended a panel discussion with Carolyn Schuk and Sal Pizarro on local reporting. She doesn’t have a clue what’s she’s talking about. The people around me were scratching their heads when she was talking. Yes, it was like listening to Palin. I can only imagine what her writing is like. God help her publications’ readers.

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