Newsletter may be political ad in disguise

Posted at 6:18 PM, Oct 11, 2016

DEL MAR, Calif. - Some Del Mar residents are accusing a long-standing newsletter of playing political favorites in the midst of a city council race.

T. Pat Stubbs claims the Del Mar Sandpiper could be sabotaging his campaign for a Del Mar City Council seat. The newsletter endorsed his opponents for three open seats and put a paragraph on its cover advising them not to vote for the first-time candidate.

"I sat in a home last weekend and many young families felt that this was a legitimate newspaper in Del Mar," Stubbs said.

Many in Del Mar respect the newsletter's position on community issues -- so much so that a stack of them sits right on the reception desk at Del Mar's City Hall.

However, some in Del Mar now say the Sandpiper's political endorsements in its October election issue were not done through a fair process. Instead, they say it was a paid political ad in disguise.

The Sandpiper endorsed Del Mar Mayor Sherryl Parks in her bid for re-election to the City Council. That's become an issue because Parks paid Rose Ann Sharp and her husband more than $4,000 for campaign literature, print ads and postage this election.

However, Rose Ann Sharp is also listed as president of the nonprofit that publishes the Del Mar Sandpiper -- the Del Mar Community Alliance.

The newsletter didn't disclose that on its endorsements.

A spokesman for Parks told 10News that the mayor was reimbursing the Sharps for mailings and ads they helped place in other publications like the Del Mar Times. Nothing went to the Sandpiper.

Plus, Sandpiper Editor Bud Emerson said the newsletter acts independently.

"It's not a paid political ad," he said. "This is journalism. I mean, basically, we provide information and perspective and then as editors we make recommendations."

The Fair Political Practices Commission won't comment on individual situations. However, a spokesman said violating the Political Reform Act's disclosure rules could come with a fine up to $5,000.

Stubbs, who said he wants to represent everyone in Del Mar, feels he never had a fair chance at the endorsement.

"I'm very concerned that people in Del Mar are confused by this newsletter from this group," he said.

Rose Ann Sharp referred 10News to Emerson and a Parks spokesman for comments on the endorsements.