Monday, June 15, 2009

Setting the record straight on my political contributions

No .. I did NOT contribute to Citizen For Akron's campaign to stop the recall of Akron Mayor Don Plusquellic. Contrary to what you're hearing on local talk radio, I didn't do it.

The Akron Beacon Journal published a list of all of the contributors to the campaign as part of its coverage. Near the bottom is the name "Eric S. Mansfield" having contributed $23 to the effort by buying a ticket to a recent fundraiser at an Akron union hall. There was pizza and beer, for what that's worth.

Now .. I'm being taken to task by Akron-area talk radio for contributing to a local political campaign when I'm supposed to be staying neutral as a journalist. Not that the talk radio folks would call me first to find out the true story, but instead, I'm getting blasted.

Here's the truth: It wasn't me.

I wasn't even in the county during the event.

It was my wife, Lisa, who is a candidate for the Akron School Board. She signed in as a political candidate and also signed the personal check used to pay the contribution .. and that's where the miscommunication comes in to play.

Since both of our names are on our personal checks, my name got credit for the contribution. I'm told by others that this isn't out of the ordinary. Another woman in local politics tells me that her husband often gets a thank you note for political contributions she made because his name is first on their joint personal checks. It's the same with Lisa and me. (As soon as I can get a computer scan of the check, I'll post it here so you can see her signature on the check.)

Still .. what does it say about a talk show host who blasts me without at least checking to get the info correct?

For the record, I don't contribute to campaigns, attend fundraisers or rallies, or even put up a sign in my yard -- even for school levies for my own kids' school district. I view my role as a journalist seriously, and I won't cross that line.

Lisa's campaign is just getting started ... and so far, she's gathered about 450 signatures on petitions (300 valid signatures are needed to get on the ballot). Her passion for the role is solid, and as an Akron Schools Grad (North High alum), a mother of three APS students, and a Secondary Education Major from the U of Akron -- just for starters -- Lisa's more than qualified to make a solid run. Her website and Twitter feeds are just getting off the ground, but you can take a look to see this is legit.

I hadn't planned on talking publicly about Lisa's candidacy this early in the campaign, but I needed to set the record straight.

Oh .. and if you think I was riled by the criticism, you should hear from Lisa... and you will in the coming days for sure.

27 comments:

Chris H. said...

Interesting Eric.

I will say it might be prudent in the future to set up a separate checking account for the "candidate" rather than paying with a personal check.

I learned this after my name appeared after buy tickets for a "Vote For Change" concert (to see the bands), and having my name forever linked to a political contribution.

Struke said...

How about just seeing who SIGNED the front of the check?

Anonymous said...

Eric,

I had a similar problem once when I was at WKSU. (Although it didn't make the talk radio circuit.)

Amie made a contribution in her name to an organization that is political the she supports. But because the person who accepted the donation knew us, it showed up in the paper as "The Vincent Duffy family."

I had some explaining to do about that one at work.

You can be as careful as you want, but sometimes other people's honest mistakes are going to make you have to explain yourself.

Nevertheless, it certainly is sloppy work by the well-poisoners of talk radio. Many of them could use a Journalism 101 refresher.

Vince

Eric Mansfield said...

Chris, Struke, Vince ..

good advice and thoughts from all .. a lesson learned indeed, but all I ask is a phone call or email before you blast my good name about ...

although I kidded Lisa that I wanted her campaign to issue a statement to set the record straight .. she's very ticked off by it .. not understanding why the system always gives credit to the man of the house ..


and Vince, if you're willing to teach J101 again, I know quite a few local "journalists" who need a refresher ..

Ed Esposito said...

Makes one long for the good old days of cash and graveyard registrations...

Seriously, let's call him out on why he just didn't call you?

wayne_in_akron said...

@ Eric and Ed...

I happened to be listening on Saturday when Eric's name was listed (along with many others).

Tom asked over the air for "Eric, please call in".

It sounds like your beef is with Plusquellic's "Citizens For Akron" who filed an erroneous report with the Summit County Board of Elections.

Does the term 'do not shoot the messenger' come to mind?

It is far from, and won't be the last time that a media outlet uses the reporting of another media source as the basis of their story.

Why don't both of you guys call into Tom's show tonight? It could make for some lively conversation radio.

Warner said...

"Your" donation is listed in the Mayor's campaign report. I would say this is typical sloppiness on the part of the mayor. You should see his golf outing records.

Anonymous said...

Warner . . . may I take a look at your tax returns?


Wayne-in-Akron . . . as usual, you miss the point. If some radio talker was intersted in FACTS, he would make the call BEFORE posing the question on the air. But since he is more interested in making waves and getting attention for himself and his own show he can just toss it out on the air and expect Eric to call in to explain himself.

(That mgiht sound a little familair, eh Warner?)

Chris H. said...

No offense Wayne and Warner ... but to put the blame on the Mayor's office is kind of off-base.

For these type of reports, the person who signed the check is NEVER the one that goes on the record.

My parents just had a similar situation through a charity my mother purchases mass cards through.

All their mail comes to the house in my father's name ... despite the fact that my mom is one making the donations.

Anonymous said...

And who in their right mind would be listening to that rabble rousing garbage anyway? I have way more important things on which to spend my energy and precious time than tuning in to that nonsense.

As far as their "talent" needing to retake J101, I don't believe some of them ever took it in the first place.

wayne_in_akron said...

============================
Anony posted:

"since (Tom Erickson) is more interested in making waves and getting attention for himself and his own show he can just toss it out on the air and expect Eric to call in to explain himself."
============================

I will guess that before this is all said and done, it will be Eric Mansfield's blog posting (one of ten ways journalists can use social media) about this story that will cause far more exposure to this issue than Tom Erickson's on-air comments ever would have.

Anonymous said...

Oh, poor Wayne-in-Akron . . . always so close to the point but never headed in the right direction.

Eric's post stands in stark contrast to the radio broadcast becasue it has a strong foundation in FACT . . . and without whathisname's recent shotgun-style broadcast, Eric's post would be unnecessary.

Which is the chickena and which is the egg again? I'm confused.

wayne_in_akron said...

@Anony...

If the ABJ (who reported Eric Mansfield's name first) didn't question the name on campaign's finance report, why should Erickson?

Anonymous said...

Lisa the Candidate made a rookie mistake in using the family checkbook.
Radio Boy made a mistake in not contacting Eric before his railings.
The ABJ simply published the list as released by the Board of Elections.
Eric is a victim of it all, but blame should be spread.

wayne_in_akron said...

@Anony...

You forgot to list the Plusquellic/Fusco led Citizens For Akron group in your list of parties to "blame".

If CFA had filed an accurate report (want to bet they don't make this kind of mistake when listing both husband and wife as separate donations to get around individual donation, campaign dollar limits), then this whole situation would have never occurred.

I feel bad for Eric because CFA's failure to do its job has caused all of this grief for him.

Akron Watch said...

There is NO reason why Tom Erickson should of called Eric Mansfield. Tom was quoting a PUBLIC DOCUMENT! Should all media personalities call any person listed on a public document? I think not. If what Eric is saying is true about the MISTAKE on the Citizens for Akron report- you are pointing the finger of blame in the wrong direction- blame it on your crony friends who you stick up for on a daily basis. Their lack of taking campaign finance laws seriously is one of the reasons people want the mayor recalled in the first place- take a look at the mayor's campaign finance reports and you will see first hand the ignorance to campaign finance laws. Regardless Eric, I am sure you will still support your friend Don.

Anonymous said...

Wayne: Sure, the mayor's group shares blame as well for omitting Lisa's name, but not for using Eric's.
There's no way any political group could use only the check's signature. They are usually unreadable.
Therefore, all one can do is look at the name or names on the check for documentation. Unfortunately, this leaves one to believe Lisa and Eric are contributing.
I'll bet the Mansfield's don't repeat this mistake at the next fundraiser.

wayne_in_akron said...

====================
Anony posted:

Wayne: Sure, the mayor's group shares blame as well for omitting Lisa's name, but not for using Eric's.
====================

Hello McFly...

The "Mayor's Group" should take ALL OF THE BLAME for using Eric's name.

They are the one, required by law, to report the contributions. It is their responsibility to accurately do so.

====================
There's no way any political group could use only the check's signature. They are usually unreadable.
====================

"NO WAY" ???

Eric says he will be posting a copy of the check (presumably with signature showing).

How about seeing the evidence first before automatically giving Plusquellic/Fusco a pass?

Anonymous said...

Oh... Akron watch... so naive. If it is in the paper, it must be true. Back to third grade for you. Akron Public would even teach you to question that simple statement.

Robert M Kraus Sr said...

Mr Mansfield you say that you are supposed to be staying neutral as a journalist. Is neutrality a tenet of journalism? If it is, it's the most violated belief that one could find. The Beacon Journal is not neutral on the recall issue. Please explain neutrality further.

Sincerely

Robert M Kraus

Eric Mansfield said...

All ..
Wow . you've spent a lot of time with this today .. and seem a bit more agitated than I am ..

In a nutshell, I'm not upset that the ABJ printed the list it was provided .. or that anyone, radio hosts included, would read the names on the list.

What frustrates and upsets me is:

a) the assumption was immediately made that the name referred to me when there on three Eric Mansfields in the area (just ecause I happened to the right one doesn't justify the practice of NOT checking facts)

and b) the radio host, who has my cell number, didn't call me for comment but immediately attached a negative comment to the appearance of my name ... and now somehow other insist it's up to me to be listening 24/7 and call him to fix the issue. Had he called me, I probably would have gone on the air live and answered anything he wanted to talk about with the issue .. but it's not right to blast someone and then expect the target to somehow sort it out later.

In the end, the clerical error isn't the media's fault but the political accounting system .. and from what I've been told throughout the day, this happens repeatedly on both sides of the aisle.

And while I'm not immune to criticism as a journalist (if you know me, you know I have pretty thick skin), I don't like my objectivity being challenged when I was readily available to provide the real facts.

That said everyone .. let's move on ..

Eric Mansfield said...

Robert,
Feel free to contact the ABJ directly, but you need to remember that the news department and the editorial board are separate.
What you read yesterday in the paper was the News Department (reporter Stephanie Warsmith) covering both sides of the impending issue .. and separately, the editorial department endorsing a stance against the recall.
Like Stephanie, I'm on the news gathering side of the fence .. and while some venues -- such as the reporters' roundtable "NewsNight Akron" -- provide journalists a chance to share opinions and insight, my coverage of daily news stories needs to remain from a neutral perspective.
Others can weigh in .. but I hope that helps .. Eric

Robert M Kraus Sr said...

Yes, sir, it helps.

Akron Watch said...

Anonymous- NO, I didnt rely on the ABJ, I have a copy of the report in my hands, now what? Tisk Tisk- if you want real reporting on news that the ABJ doesnt cover, check out our latest story yesterday at www.akronwatch.org

Anonymous said...

Akronwatch - What are your ties to the Subcontractors Association of Northeast Ohio? From what I understand you post all day from there.

Akron Watch said...

Anonymous- Tell your budy TOJ he needs to dig deeper, you are off base.

Anonymous said...

I found it more interesting that Miss Tia, who lives off tax payer dollars, made a $475 contribution to CAN. I wonder if Mr. Erickson made issue of that? I object to this expenditure by Miss Tia and I demand we recall her!!