Politics

KPCC story on Inland Empire election makes its way into political mailers

Candidates Cheryl Brown and Eloise Reyes are competing to represent the Inland Empire in Sacramento.
Candidates Cheryl Brown and Eloise Reyes are competing to represent the Inland Empire in Sacramento.
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At least two political mailers put out by a group active in an Inland Empire election feature excerpts from a KPCC report on a state Assembly race. KPCC did not participate in their design or endorse any candidate there, and has demanded the group stop distributing the materials. 

The mailers were shared with the station by Gloria Anderson with the League of Women Voters of the San Bernardino Area as part of an effort by the station to collect political mailers. The two mailers were paid for by a group called Neighbors United for a Stronger Middle Class to Support Eloise Reyes.

Voters received the mailers amid a contentious race for state Assembly in the Inland Empire's 47th District, an area that includes Fontana, Rialto and San Bernardino. There, incumbent Democrat Cheryl Brown is squaring off against fellow Democrat Eloise Reyes.

A mailer sent out by Neighbors United excerpts a KPCC story. KPCC does not endorse candidates.
A mailer sent out by Neighbors United excerpts a KPCC story. KPCC does not endorse candidates.

Outside spenders have dumped millions into the contest, making it one of the state's most expensive. Among the big spenders is Neighbors United.

While the group is unaffiliated with Reyes, it has spent more than $1.9 million this year to elect her and defeat Cheryl Brown. That effort has included negative videos and campaign literature attacking Brown. 

The Neighbors United mailers both feature sections of the Oct. 4, 2016 story displayed on a tablet computer. While the quoted sections are in the story, they were not an endorsement of either candidate in the race. One of the quotes is from Reyes, who spoke to KPCC. Brown's campaign did not respond to several requests for comment.

The other excerpt includes text from the story that describes Brown's role in eliminating a provision in an environmental bill that would have cut gasoline use, action which has been widely reported. The mailer also features a quote in the story from University of California, Riverside's Karthick Ramakrishnan, alongside an excerpt from a Press Enterprise article.

KPCC does not endorse candidates running for office.

A mailer sent out by Neighbors United excerpts a KPCC story. KPCC does not endorse candidates.
A mailer sent out by Neighbors United excerpts a KPCC story. KPCC does not endorse candidates.

The image on the tablet closely resembles KPCC's website. KPCC has sent a cease and desist letter to Neighbors United asking the organization to stop using the station's content in political advertising.

Karlene Goller, KPCC’s newsroom attorney, explained why the station sent the letter: "The Neighbors United mailers do not fairly represent KPCC's coverage. The excerpts in the mailers are actually statements by others, including the group's candidate, Eloise Reyes, who were quoted in a KPCC political story. The mailers intentionally misuse the quotes and misrepresent them to make the reader believe that KPCC supports the group's candidate, Eloise Reyes. That is not true. KPCC is completely neutral and unbiased and does not support any candidate in that election or any other."

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