Reporting on $175K donation, LA Times did not mention that GOP is behind CA electoral-vote initiative

››› ››› MATT GERTZ

A September 26 Los Angeles Times article reported that a "newly created Missouri company has made the first public donation to date -- $175,000 -- to a proposed California initiative that would alter how the state allocates its electoral votes," referring to a controversial proposal to award California's electoral votes by congressional district. The article continued: "The donation arrived Sept. 11, one day after Missouri attorney Charles Hurth III created the company, TIA Take Initiative America." However, the Times did not note that the initiative was proposed by a lawyer with ties to the California Republican Party and was endorsed by the party's state convention. Nor did the article report that Hurth has donated to the campaign of GOP presidential candidate Rudy Giuliani. Indeed, the word "Republican" appears nowhere in the article.

By contrast, a September 25 Sacramento Bee article on Hurth's donation noted that the ballot measure was "written by prominent Sacramento GOP attorney Tom Hiltachk." The Bee also reported that "Hurth is not a major political donor but gave Republican presidential candidate Rudy Giuliani $2,000 in March." Indeed, this information is publicly available.

Hiltachk, who submitted the ballot measure to the California attorney general's office on July 17, is managing partner of Bell, McAndrews & Hiltachk and formerly served as legal counsel to Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R-CA), as Media Matters for America has documented. Further, Bell, McAndrews senior partner Charles H. Bell Jr. is general counsel to the California Republican Party.

Hiltachk has played a role in several Republican campaigns to pass ballot initiatives that would benefit that party. He served as counsel to Ted Costa, the former chairman of the Sacramento County Republican Central Committee who filed the petition seeking the 2003 recall of Gov. Gray Davis (D). Hiltachk also represented and served as a spokesman for Rescue California, a ballot-measure committee that spent $3.6 million promoting the recall initiative. The Bee reported in a July 1, 2004, article that Rescue California "gathered 1.3 million of the signatures that got the measure on the October 2003 ballot." On October 7, 2003, Davis was recalled from office and replaced by Schwarzenegger. Hiltachk also served as treasurer of Governor Schwarzenegger's California Recovery Team, a ballot-initiative committee that supported measures to mandate judicial redistricting of California's congressional districts and require employee consent for the use of union dues for political purposes.

Further, the September 26 Times article reported that "Kevin Eckery, a spokesman for the ballot measure, said he was not sure who was behind the donation," but did not note, as the Times did in an August 6 article, that Eckery is a "Republican consultant."

Following is the full text of the Times article, headlined "New firm donates to Calif. ballot drive":

A newly created Missouri company has made the first public donation to date -- $175,000 -- to a proposed California initiative that would alter how the state allocates its electoral votes.

The donation arrived Sept. 11, one day after Missouri attorney Charles Hurth III created the company, TIA Take Initiative America.

Hurth did not return phone calls Tuesday, and Kevin Eckery, a spokesman for the ballot measure, said he was not sure who was behind the donation.

The proposed June ballot measure has alarmed Democrats nationwide.

It would change California's winner-take-all system of awarding electoral votes to one in which electoral votes are awarded based on which candidate wins the state's various congressional districts.

Democrats assume the Democratic nominee must capture all of California's 55 electoral votes in order to win the presidency.

Posted In
Elections, Campaign Finance
Network/Outlet
Los Angeles Times
Stories/Interests
California Initiative
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