U-T San Diego offered discounts to some political candidates in 2012, potentially violating federal, state and local laws, Ryann Grochowski and Amita Sharma report.
U-T CEO John Lynch told the reporters the ads were sold “as part of a bundle option used to attract political advertising and consistent with how we sell generally” and was offered to all campaigns. California and San Diego laws require discounts to political campaigns to be reported as in-kind contributions, something Grochowski and Sharma say the U-T didn’t do. U.S. law prohibits discounts to federal candidates period, former FEC Chairman Trevor Potter tells the reporters.
A group opposing mayoral candidate Bob Filner paid about $1,650 per full-page ad, much less than the paper’s going rate of $8,000, Grochowski and Sharma write. The U-T endorsed Filner’s opponent, Carl DeMaio, who coincidentally was the subject of a pretty weird independent investigative effort.
Related: San Diego reporter’s work called ‘opposition research’ | Seattle Times Co. offered gubernatorial candidate free ads (The Seattle Times) | Candidate who received free ads from Seattle Times won’t concede race