Thursday, December 23, 2010

BAR Owner's Political Giving
Omitted from Paper's Endorsements

Thomas E. Horn, the publisher of the Bay Area Reporter (pictured, on the right), in addition to running the newspaper likes to contribute significant amounts of cash to politicians straight and gay, many of whom are frequently subjects of coverage in his paper or receive its endorsement at election time.

If only the BAR would disclose the contributions every time they write about or endorse a politician accepting checks from Horn there would be no ethical dilemma. But there is a problem because the paper omits any mention of Horn's political donations, and they're quite hefty.

For the November 2010 election, the BAR endorsed Barbara Boxer for the U.S. Senate, Nancy Pelosi in the House of Representatives, Gavin Newsom for lieutenant governor, Kamala Harris for attorney general, and Tom Ammiano for the assembly.

However, the endorsement editorial omitted some facts. Horn in previous races has donated to those candidates. He's given Boxer $4,000; Pelosi $8,000; Newsom $7,750; Harris $2,750; and Ammiano $1,400. Of the money given to Harris, $1,500 was for her successful AG campaign.

Who else has received campaign cash, and how much, from Horn? Mark Leno has accepted $3,000; Carole Migden $1,250; Willie Brown $3,750; Dianne Feinstein $7,000; Barack Obama $500; Dennis Herrera $1,750; Bevan Dufty $300; Sean Elsbernd $1,000, and Jose Cisneros $500.

At the municipal level, Horn has doled out a total of $14,650 since 1998, while for state races he's donated $23,500. For federal candidates and PACs, his contributions come to at least $32,000 since the early 1980s, when he donated $1,800 to the Human Rights Campaign Fund.

Adding up those three levels of political largess comes to $70,150, a robust sum indeed.

I emailed the BAR editor Cynthia Laird, posing a few questions about the serious lack of disclosure about the publisher's generous political giving, and she has not replied. Silence and failure to disclose the Horn donation seriously undermine the journalistic integrity of this paper.

Maybe in 2011 we'll see transparency in the pages of the BAR about the publisher's donations.

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