from the San Diego Reader
This has been a fascinating time to watch the Union-Tribune‘s embarrassing attacks on city attorney Mike Aguirre.
Don Bauder got the ball rolling on his October 10 blog:
Yesterday, City Attorney Mike Aguirre got an urgent email from Bob Kittle, Union-Tribune editorial writer. Kittle demanded to know if Aguirre had broken city law by taking the whopping sum of $1,640 in campaign donations from 6 of his employees. Then Kittle closed with this totally unprofessional question: “When are you going to resign?”
So City Attorney Mike Aguirre accepted campaign contributions from some of his employees, and the day after e-mailing Aguirre, Kittle wrote an extremely harsh attack on the city attorney’s office. The U-T cited the city charter, which states:
No officer or employee shall solicit or accept any donation or gratuity in money, or other thing of value, either directly or indirectly, from any subordinate or employee, or from any one under his charge, or from any candidate or applicant for any position as employee or subordinate in any Department of the City.
They accused the city attorney and six of his staff of illegal activity and outlined the legal justification for their removal from office. As Voice of San Diego editor Scott Lewis said, “The U-T didn’t simply postulate that the law might have been violated. It claimed with certainty it had and laid out a path to justice.”
This led the San Diego County Republican Party to file an ethics complaint against Aguirre and his six staff members in order to have them removed from office.
The problem is, the U-T forgot to read all of the city charter.
As Don Bauder pointed out,
But that part of the charter does not apply to political campaigns. The Ethics Commission makes it clear that such contributions are fine if they are not solicited, as these were not, according to the donors…The U-T editorial stressed that the employees who made the small donations had received raises.
So it looks like the Union-Tribune falsely accused six people of crimes and ethical violations when they were doing something 100% entirely legal. One of the city attorney’s staff is already laying out plans to sue the U-T. Check out this from VoSD:
One of the subplots to the frenzied reaction to yesterday’s Union-Tribune editorial criticizing City Attorney Mike Aguirre’s campaign fundraising was the threat by Executive Assistant City Attorney Don McGrath to sue the newspaper or its editorial page editor, Bob Kittle, for libel.
McGrath said he was penning a letter to Kittle informing him of the steps he would have to take in order to avoid being sued for damages. McGrath threatened to take ownership of the outlet.
“I want a newspaper,” McGrath said.
Bauder had more:
McGrath is writing Copley Press’s lawyer, Hal Fuson, and the editorial’s author, Bob Kittle, saying, “You are implying that I gave Aguirre a bribe in order to get a pay raise. Do a retraction or I will see you in court.” McGrath said he didn’t even know he had received a raise until Mayor Jerry Sanders published a list of salaries. Shortly after making his donation, McGrath told Aguirre about it. Aguirre said he should check with a lawyer. McGrath replied that he had already done so and had been told that such donations are not only legal, but common.