The Daily Tribune News Monday night obtained a copy of the letter, which accused the newspaper and AM 1450 WBHF of giving Paul Battles almost $20,000 in free advertising as he challenged incumbent Jeff Lewis in the State House District 15 Republican primary two years ago.
Johnette Dawson, editor and publisher of The Daily Tribune News, notified Battles of the letter and disclosure inaccuracies Tuesday morning, prompting the state representative, now running for re-election, to file an amended campaign contribution disclosure report for the period running July 1 to Sept. 30, 2008, to clarify misreported expenditures. Battles said he had not seen nor heard about letter until receiving Dawson's call.
"I immediately got on it because I knew that I had not had in-kind from anybody -- I paid a lot of money," Battles said. "What happened is my treasurer at that time, every expense that I had, he put down as an in-kind. Including The Daily Tribune, WBHF, there were sign companies -- everybody, he had put it down as an in-kind, which it was as though they had done my advertising free of charge.
"But I have the invoices and I have the canceled checks to where that was all paid, and I amended that report."
The amended Sept. 30, 2008, disclosure report, e-filed just before midday Tuesday, showed that Battles' campaign had two expenditures to The Daily Tribune News for campaign advertisements -- a July 14 payment of $5,345.81 and a July 21 payment of $11,989.75. Battles' original Sept. 30, 2008, disclosure report, electronically filed on that date, labeled the two expenditures as "in-kind" and said that the campaign paid no money for the advertisements.
The amended report also lists a $968 expenditure to WBHF, while the previous filing had it noted as in-kind with no money spent by the campaign. In all, 20 expenditures that had been listed as in-kind on the original filing were amended to reflect that the campaign paid the listed amounts for products and services. Ten items listed as expenditures on the original filing were unchanged in Tuesday's filed report.
Both the original and amended reports noted that the campaign received $441 from the newspaper to cover an overpayment on advertising costs. "That was overpayment -- [the paper] would not have refunded it unless [they] had gotten a payment," Battles said.
Johnette Dawson, editor and publisher of The Daily Tribune News, said the newspaper does not show favoritism to any candidates nor causes in any election.
"Our policy in the political arena is to support the community and not the individual," Dawson said. "The Daily Tribune News would never knowingly indulge in anything illegal or unethical."