DA Dolores Carr is pointing an accusatory finger at challenger Deputy DA Jeff Rosen regarding the use of San Jose Mercury News articles on his campaign website. Carr released a statement today charging that Rosen may have violated state campaign finance rules and federal copyright laws. Her campaign also said the use of the articles might be seen as an in-kind contribution that exceeds campaign contribution limits.
SEE RESPONSE FROM ROSEN CAMPAIGN IN COMMENTS BELOW.
The statement from the Carr camp says that when her campaign manager, Phyllis Lazzarini, contacted the Merc earlier this month seeking permission to reprint an article on the Carr campaign website, she was told that permission for a six-month PDF reprint has a $1,855 price tag.
Lazzarini noted that the Rosen campaign website has several Merc articles printed in their entirety online or in PDF form, but that nothing on Rosen’s campaign spending forms indicate that money was paid to the Mercury.
Could this be some kind of unreported campaign contribution? “I’m looking to [Rosen] to answer these questions,” Carr said in an interview this afternoon. “People need to play by the rules. If he’s been getting these reprints and not paying for them, then he should account for that.”
Candidates are required by the California Political Reform Act to report all contributions and expenditures in their 460 forms.
Since the Merc has long been cold on Carr and sweet on Rosen, the Rosen campaign had plenty of clips to choose from—about $17,000 worth, according to the calculations made from a price sheet provided to the Carr campaign.
Emails posted to Carr’s website between Director of Online Content Keith Randall and Merc Publisher Mac Tully seem to indicate they had no idea Rosen was using the reprints.
“Thank you for bringing this to our attention,” Tully wrote to Carr on Mar. 12. “We have notified Mr. Rosen to remove our material.”
Currently, Rosen’s website mentions 31 Merc articles which have all been changed to links to MercuryNews.com. Nobody in the Rosen campaign was available today to explain whether this was some kind of oversight, or if someone else in the Mercury organization gave him the go-ahead. —Jessica Lussenhop
UPDATE: Rosen responded to Carr’s allegations this afternoon, saying he simply didn’t know that it is illegal to re-post copyrighted articles from a newspaper’s website. “We didn’t seek their permission,” he says. “We didn’t think we needed it.”