My Investigative Report on Unions Spent $522,500 in Summer 2011 Radio Campaign to Discourage Californians from Exercising Their Right to Petition the Government

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Today (May 16, 2012) the FlashReport on California’s Most Significant Political News features my exclusive article outlining the details of the extensive union radio advertising campaign in the summer of 2011 to scare California voters into declining to sign petitions to place measures on the ballot.

Nine months later, California citizens are now able to scrutinize the campaign financial reports for this radio campaign and get donor and expenditure information. Union leaders did not provide this information to the public or to the news media at the time they were running the commercials, of course. Citizens can now see which professional firms assisted with the campaign and how much money the unions paid these firms for services. We can even see how much the unions paid each of the 33 radio stations that ran the commercials.

One of my frustrations about California political news coverage is the lack of research and exposure of the dirty details of old political strategies that created a ruckus when they occurred. Perhaps editors and reporters have done market research and determined that their audience would consider this to be “old news” not worthy of reading. Perhaps they just assume that their audience wouldn’t care and such coverage would not generate public attention and the resulting circulation and advertising revenue. Or perhaps the research is too tedious and technical for busy reporters under constant pressure.

Well, I have no advertisers, and I did not forget about this $522,500 radio advertising campaign, run by a union front group calling itself Citizens Against Identity Theft.

Read my article here: Investigative Report: Unions Spent $522,500 in Summer 2011 Radio Campaign to Discourage Californians from Exercising Their Right to Petition the – May 16, 2012

UPDATE (April 20, 2013): Today I stumbled on an old February 6, 2012 report in the Sacramento Bee that Britton “Jerry” McFetridge had died. I note in my article that McFetridge was one of the officers of Californians Against Identity Theft, but I had been unable to find his current occupation. The article describes his career:

He served under several Democratic members of the Legislature, including current state Treasurer Bill Lockyer. He is credited with mentoring dozens of Democratic staff members and shepherding significant legislation through the process over the years, including the state’s prevailing wage law and the California Occupational Safety and Health Act.

After leaving the Legislature, he became legislative and political director for the State Building and Construction Trades Council.

The article also quotes Senate Secretary Greg Schmidt, described as “a close personal friend” of McFetridge. Schmidt was the official in the legislature who deflected the requests of Associated Builders and Contractors of California under the authority of the Legislative Open Records Act to obtain certain public documents. These documents were related to a secret internal directive to require contractors to employ an “all-union workforce” on the 2005 construction of the Capitol Park Safety and Security Improvement Project. Read the letter: Schmidt Response to California Legislative Open Records Request on “All-Union Workforce” for State Capitol Project – July 25, 2005.

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