Monday, March 15, 2004

March 15, 2003

Catherine Mathis
Vice President of Corporate Communications
The New York Times
New York, NY
Dear Ms. Mathis:

As a new shareholder in the New York Times Company and reader of the Times, I am gravely concerned about the paper’s commitment to principled journalism in today’s world.

The Times’ code of conduct, as laid out in the Ethical Journalism handbook that was revised in January 2003, explicitly prohibits staff from making political donations.

“Staff members may not themselves give money to, or raise money for, any political candidate or election cause. Given the ease of Internet access to public records of campaign contributors, any political giving by a times staff member would carry a great risk of feeding a false impression that the paper is taking sides,” states the code. [1]

After reading this rule, I searched Federal Election Commission records on the web for Times staff and experienced dismay, seeing that dozens of staff members made political donations over more than two decades. [2]

Focal points of staff FEC files:

-- Most recent donations: Michael H. Sussman, web producer, donated in December 2003, Sarah Lyall, London bureau, gave in September 2003. While Janet Maslin, book critic, and John Rockwell, music critic, wrote out checks in March 2003.

-- Number of Pulitzer Prize awardees: Two. Barry Bearak, 2002 winner for international reporting; and Paul Goldberger, awarded a prize in 1984 for criticism.

-- Six people contributed to the Democratic National Committee.

-- Two members gave to a Green Party candidate.

-- One donated to the Republican National Committee, back in 1992.

-- Number who chipped in for Hillary Rodham Clinton’s Senate campaign: 4.

-- Only two staff members wrote checks for Sen. Charles Schumer.

The paper’s code of conduct, of course, does not apply to the extended Sulzberger family. However, I must point out family members’ donations because they listed the New York Times as their employer on FEC forms. Contributions from Sulzberger relatives illustrate the breadth of political giving on the part of people connected with the paper.

A few highlights of the family’s contributions:

-- Most recent donation: On February 3, 2003, from Cathy F. Sulzberger.

-- Arthur Sulzberger, Jr., wrote out a check for $500 in September 1999 to the Handgun Control Voter Education Fund.

-- Single largest donor: Marion S. Heiskell; sister of Arthur Sulzberger, Sr.

In the Times’ Guidelines on Integrity, staff members are to “do nothing that might erode reader’s faith and confidence in our news column. This means that staff members should be vigilant in avoiding any activity that might pose an actual or apparent conflict of interest and thus threaten the newspaper’s ethical standing.” [3]

The FEC files, in my opinion, clearly show the Times has not vigorously enforced a key provision of the code of conduct, especially for the four staff members who donated to politicians after the code was revised in January 2003.

I ask that an investigation immediately begin to determine if the staff members listed below broke company standards in giving to politicians and causes.

A prompt reply is requested.


Michael Petrelis
San Francisco, CA
Ph: 415-621-6267





[Key: (D) = Democrat, (G) = Green, (P-C) = Pro-Choice, (R) = Republican.]


Ahmad-Taylor, Tyrone O.
06/24/92 Clinton for President Committee (D) $1,000

Araton, Harvey; Sports reporter
05/17/02 Carden for Congress $250

Arenson, Karen W.; Education reporter
07/16/02 Friends of Scott Stringer (D) $1,000
08/22/00 Hillary Rodham Clinton Committee (D) $1,000
06/22/95 Clinton/Gore 96 Primary Committee Inc (D) $1,000
08/29/94 Robb for the Senate (D) $500

Baker, Diane
03/16/98 Stephanie Tubbs Jones for US Congress (D) $250
02/10/98 Ferraro for Senate 98 (D) $2,000

Bearak, Barry Leon; New Delhi bureau, 2002 Pulitzer Prize winner (Married to Celia Dugger)
07/17/00 Dugger for US Senate (G) $250

Binder, David; Washington bureau
11/18/99 Bill Bradley for President Inc (D) $500

Blinkhorn, Ann
02/16/96 Kennedy for Senate 94 (D) $1,000

Borkowski, Monica C.; Washington bureau researcher
05/14/02 Torricelli for US Senate Inc (D) $250
02/14/01 Torricelli for US Senate Inc (D) $250
07/20/99 Torricelli for US Senate Inc (D) $250

Brengle, Katherine
06/30/00 DNC Services Committee Inc (D) $1,000

Brusseau, Antoine
08/11/00 DNC Services Corporation (D) $200

Burros, Donald
10/10/85 Women’s Campaign Fund Inc. (P-C) $500

Burros, Marion; Food writer

10/10/85 Women’s Campaign Fund Inc (P-C) $500
03/07/84 Mondale for President Committee Inc (D) $1,000

Cohen, Daniel H.
10/21/98 Schumer 98 (D) $250
06/30/97 Schumer 98 (D) $500

Costello, Robert A.
03/19/00 Hillary Rodham Clinton Committee (D) $950

Curtis, Charlotte; Society columnist, deceased
10/19/82 Bob Shamanksy for Congress Committee $500
08/19/80 Bob Shamansky for Congress Committee $500

Dobrzynski, Judith H.; Foreign correspondent
02/14/96 Women’s Campaign Fund Inc (P-C) $1,000
04/12/95 Women’s Campaign Fund Inc (P-C) $1,000

Domizio, Mike
09/28/92 Republican National Committee (R) $200

Dugger, Celia W.; New Delhi bureau (Married to Barry Bearak)
07/17/00 Dugger for US Senate $250

Flippen, Alan D.; Project planner
11/16/00 DNC Services Committee Inc (D) $500

Gefter, Philip; Photo editor
03/22/99 DNC Non-Federal Individual (D) $250

Goldberger, Paul; Music critic, 1984 Pulitzer Prize winner
11/09/95 Clinton/Gore 96 Primary Committee Inc (D) $1,000

Gould, Carole
06/30/97 Feldman for Congress $250

Gruson, Sydney; Foreign correspondent, deceased
11/15/91 Wilder for President Committee (D) $250
05/19/87 Americans With Hart Inc (D) $1,000
03/24/87 Friends of Gary Hart 1988 Inc (D) $1,000
03/05/84 Americans With Hart Inc (D) $500
07/26/83 Women’s Campaign Fund Inc (P-C) $500
03/04/83 Americans With Hart Inc (D) $500
06/27/80 Javits Campaign Committee (R) $500
05/02/80 Hart for Senate Campaign Committee Inc (D) $250

Innelli, Frank
11/20/89 John Innelli for Congress $1,000

Kaplan, Andrea R.; NYT Co.’s Women’s Magazine
10/23/92 New York State Democratic Committee (D) $200

Knowles , Joseph
10/18/00 Hillary Rodham Clinton for US Senate Committee Inc (D) $200

Lyall, Sarah; London bureau
09/29/03 Joe Torsella for Congress (D) $2,000

Maslin, Janet; Book critic
03/31/03 Dean for America (D) $500

Medenica, Gordon
03/25/97 Friends of Houghton (R) $500

Molyneaux, Michael
04/27/99 Friends of Tom Byrne $250
10/01/92 DNC Services Corporation (D) $250
10/01/92 DNC Services Corporation (D) $250

Morris, Olin F.; New York Times Broadcasting Group
09/06/00 Marion Berry for Congress (D) $500
08/24/99 Ed Bryant for Congress (R) $200
02/22/95 Alexander for President Inc (R) $1,000

Moyler, Freeman
04/17/94 Committee to Elect Al Sharpton (D) $1,000
05/22/92 Committee to Elect Al Sharpton (D) $1,000

Newhouse, Nancy R.
01/27/98 Schumer 98 (D) $250

Richards, David B.
10/19/94 Ben Jones for Congress Committee (D) $250

Rockwell, John; Music critic
03/07/03 Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (D) $2,500
02/04/02 Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (D) $1,000
05/24/00 Hillary Rodham Clinton Committee Inc (D) $1,000
03/23/00 Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (D) $750
02/24/00 Hillary Rodham Clinton Committee (D) $1,000
06/08/98 Bayley for Congress 98 $500
02/23/98 Bayley Senate 98 $500
04/17/88 New Yorkers for Jesse Jackson 88 (D) $500
01/09/80 Brown for President 80 (D) $1,000

Salembier, Valerie
04/20/94 Nita Lowey for Congress (D) $500

Shaff, Marian L.
10/24/94 Kennedy for Senate (D) $1,000

Sussman, Michael H.; Web producer
12/07/03 Dean for America (D) $250

Thomas, Robert McG, Jr.; Obituaries writer, deceased
02/06/89 Friends of Sam Beard for the US Senate $250

Vickers, Marcia
10/29/96 Women’s Campaign Fund Inc (P-C)) $300

Voereker, John
06/16/94 Tom Duane for Congress (D) $250

Wade, Betsy; Travel writer
0/14/01 Diane E. Watson for Congress (D) $383

Wayne, D. Leslie
10/02/95 Women’s Campaign Fund Inc (P-C) $300

Ypsilantis, Eleftherios
02/25/92 Tsongas Committee Inc (D) $300

Zane, Peder
06/03/96 Brian Steel for Congress $711

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