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Who's smearing whom?

As campaign season kicks off, the Republican Party has a bone to pick with The Tribune

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The Tribune accused the San Luis Obispo County GOP of a plan to "smear anyone linked to the late Adam Hill" in an editorial on March 13 ("SLO County GOP's election strategy: Smear anyone 'linked' to the late Adam Hill"). Sorry, the plan is to provide the public the ugly truth about several candidates running for the SLO County Board of Supervisors.

This is an example of the pot calling the kettle black. During the last election, The Tribune wanted to know if Republican candidates voted for Trump, before trashing them for being like Trump. Tribune columnist and local political consultant Tom Fulks regularly demeans Republicans on the board based on national figures, but for journalistic integrity, he temporarily steps down shortly before each campaign season starts.

The Tribune accuses those who link people who worked hand in glove with Adam Hill—a man who threatened people, harassed critics, and extorted business owners for votes—of character assassination.

Less than six months ago, Helios Dayspring admitted to bribing Hill for favorable votes on cannabis issues. During the past two years, the FBI raided the county building, Hill's home, and Dayspring's home.

In its editorial, The Tribune calls Dayspring's guilty plea and admission he bribed Hill "an allegation of political corruption." If bribery and extortion is not political corruption, what is?

For years, the Tribune blindly supported Hill, while Dayspring was one of their top advertisers. Dayspring's business, which he conveniently put in his girlfriend's name after the FBI raided his home, is still advertising in The Tribune.

In a recent email advertisement, The Tribune's favorite candidate, SLO County 2nd District Supervisor Bruce Gibson, accused his opponents of being MAGA supporters, all without any evidence. Gibson's advertisement tries to link local GOP candidates to issues involving controversial out-of-state Republicans.

Gibson's advertisement claims his opponents want "to suppress the right to vote, deny women their own health care choices, outlaw use of the word 'gay' by educators, and require parents of trans children to be reported as child abusers." Talk about fabricating smears while failing to discuss local issues.

Last week, 2nd District supervisor candidate Bruce Jones sent The Tribune an opinion piece, no mention of his opponents, though he laid out the issues he finds important. The Tribune hasn't yet published Jones' opinion.

"What I will do in office: Work to clean up the corruption, promote a more efficient and fair permitting process, support parents' right to make medical decisions for their children, stand by the 80 percent of residents who voted to protect their water rights, support increasing the number of deputies in District 2, and bring honesty and integrity back to the District 2 supervisor seat," Jones wrote in his opinion piece.

Even so, The Tribune editorial accuses Republicans running for office of failing to discuss the issues.

The Tribune goes on to claim the GOP "plans to trash anyone who had even a tenuous connection to Hill." Unlike The Tribune, the GOP does not think that just voting for or supporting a deeply flawed man, who many thought was a good supervisor, taints anyone.

I believe stopping corruption is a key issue in a county that has been under an FBI corruption investigation for years. On the Dave Congalton show, I did say we have to put out the dirt on those tied to corruption. By dirt, I mean the truth no matter how ugly.

Gibson, who voted lockstep with Hill for years, berated anyone who accused Hill and others of corruption. Along with Hill, Gibson not only voted in support of Dayspring's business plans, but trashed others for voicing their concerns.

Gibson is currently paying Dayspring's former right-hand man, Nick Andre, to work for his campaign.

During his last run for office, 4th District candidate Jimmy Paulding was regularly flanked by Hill. For his campaign consultant, Paulding chose Andre.

Hill appointed current 3rd District Supervisor Dawn Ortiz-Legg to the Planning Commission, where Ortiz-Legg supported Dayspring's business. During her swearing in as supervisor, Ortiz-Legg said she planned to continue the legacy of Adam Hill. This is what The Tribune refers to as a tenuous connection.

Before penning their editorial, Tribune staffers contacted the U.S. Attorney's Office to learn that the corruption investigation into SLO County is ongoing. The editors then attempted to downplay the future of the criminal probe: "And there could be additional arrests—possibly this year, or next year, or three or four years from now, or never," the editorial says. "In other words, who knows how long this investigation may drag on, and whether federal officials will even tell us when it's over."

The job of the media is to hold politicians accountable, not to wave pom-poms in the air for a political party. I expect more from The Tribune, because they are the paper of record.

While The Tribune focuses their attacks on local Republican candidates based on the presidential candidate they voted for, they want the public to forget about the corruption that has ravaged our county. It's time to elect residents who put ethics, integrity, and our community first. Δ

Erik Gorham is a member of the Republican Party of SLO County, which endorsed Bruce Jones for 2nd District supervisor. Send a response for publication to letters@newtimesslo.com.

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