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Wednesday, Jan 04, 2012

The U-T's connections to Carl DeMaio and the Lincoln Club

CityBeat grades Steve Breen's fundraiser appearance and DeMaio's calendar holes

By Dave Maass

Bringing Breen

Not to keep harping on the Lincoln Club of San Diego County’s lame winter fund-raiser, “Occupy Christmas,” but—OK, we’re just going to keep harping.

One thing that struck us as strange was that Steve Breen, editorial cartoonist for The San Diego Union- Tribune—oops, we mean U-T San Diego—agreed to be the keynote speaker at a fundraiser for the overtly conservative political organization. Media professionals usually stay away from those kinds of conflicts, so we asked the U-T’s editor, Jeff Light, about it. He had Breen respond directly.

In an email, Breen says he wasn’t paid for the event.

The Lincoln Club’s president, T.J. Zane, initially asked him to speak at one of its regular lunches, but then Zane asked him to headline at the annual dinner. Breen says, “It sounded fun,” but he was unaware it was a fund-raiser. He received permission to speak from William Osborne, who oversees the paper’s editorial pages.

“I’m not sure at what point I realized it was a fundraiser, but it was late in the game, after the evites had been sent out,” Breen writes. “That said, had I known from the start it WAS a fundraiser, I probably would have told TJ I couldn’t do it…. I’m not suggesting TJ was hiding anything, either. He could have told me it was a fundraiser when we spoke on the phone after I said I’d do it, I just don’t remember.”

But Zane should’ve known better, and we give him two turds, one for each of Breen’s Pulitzer prizes. As for Breen, he says he would’ve been just as enthusiastic if he’d been approached by a Democratic or independent group.

Alrighty then: We formally request Breen give an equivalent speech before Occupy San Diego.

DeMaio’s dates

And to continue harping on The San Diego Union-Tribune—shit, done it again—U-T San Diego: Last month, the San Diego Daily Transcript reported that City Councilmember and mayor candidate Carl DeMaio has a history with the new owners of the city’s main daily newspaper, hotelier Doug Manchester and broadcaster John Lynch. In 2005, Manchester donated $100,000 to a DeMaio-run political committee, while Lynch’s radio station provided the committee with $38,400 in free air time.

On Dec. 14, we received a tip that DeMaio was spotted scheming with Manchester and Lynch—so we filed a records request for DeMaio’s schedule. After all, on the eve of being sworn in three years ago, DeMaio sent out a statement promising that he would post his official calendar each month, “documenting who he has met with and for what purpose.”

He has honored part of the pledge, posting every calendar online, but over the years, the pages have been increasingly filled with notes saying simply “Hold for Carl.” The page for Dec. 14, for example, has four hours in the morning and four-and-a-half in the afternoon reserved without any description.

We asked DeMaio’s office to confirm or deny the meeting and, if it did happen, we asked that DeMaio disclose the subjects discussed. We received no answer and, so, for breaking the promise, we issue DeMaio 45 nuggets of bullshit to match the average number of “Hold for Carl” entries in his monthly calendar since September.

Send your Turds & Blossoms nominations to