According to the Times Union newspaper, two attorneys have filed a complaint about the failure of newly elected mayor Ron Kim to submit his campaign financial disclosure data to the New York State Board of Elections. His report on donations and spending was due November 29, 2021.
This story appeared in the Times Union under Wendy Liberatore’s byline. It does not require a degree in journalism to see that there are some serious problems with the coverage of this story.
Obvious Questions Never Asked
According to the TU, Kim gave the following explanation about the missing report:
Kim said that he filed his post-election report, but a technical issue has prevented it from being viewed.
“We submitted it,” Kim said. “I thought it was done. I just learned of the problem and we are working on it.”Times Union December 30, 2021
This statement should have raised a number of questions.
First, it would seem obvious that the reporter would check with the New York State Board of Elections (NYSBOE) to see whether the failure for the data to appear on their website lay with the NYSBOE or with Mr. Kim. This blogger contacted the NYSBOE and was assured that if Mr. Kim had properly submitted his information, as he did in the previous reporting periods, it would be on their site.
For whatever reason, Ms. Liberatore found the time to research the campaign contributions of the lawyers bringing the complaint but saw no need to check with the NYSBOE as to whether the NYSBOE had received the required information from Kim.
Next, the obvious question to have asked Mr. Kim would have been, “what is the “technical issue” you referred to and what actions are you taking to correct it?” This line of questioning also was apparently never pursued by the reporter.
The article also reported that Kim had previously “…acknowledged in November that his final financial disclosure would be late because the deadline coincided with his father’s death.”
I can find no public record that Kim ever said this. The story includes no citation. Ms. Liberatore simply reports it as fact.
According to the obituary, Kim’s father, who had been ill for a long time, died on December 4, 2021. That was five days after the last filing date for the required report and thirty-six days after the actual election.
Every other candidate has filed with the exceptions of Tara Gaston (Supervisor-D) and Shaun Wiggins (Supervisor-D).
More importantly, New York State election law requires that for a campaign to accept donations it must have a treasurer. Standard practice is for the treasurer, not the candidate, to not only maintain records of contributions and expenditures, but to handle the reporting to the state.
I texted Pat Tuz, Saratoga Springs Democratic Committee chair, asking who Mr. Kim’s treasurer was. I did not get a reply.
Similarly, I emailed Mr. Kim, himself, with the same question and did not receive a response.
Blogger Urges Times Union To Hire A Reporter To Cover Saratoga Springs
There is a role in a newspaper for a gossip columnist. Everyone enjoys hearing the latest rumors and the more salacious the better. No one really expects accuracy or fairness from a gossip columnist. A gossip columnist is not a reporter.
Saratoga Springs deserves to have its news covered by someone with an independent eye who is rigorous in their reporting rather than someone whose stories, while occasionally entertaining, often sacrifice accuracy and fairness for sensationalism. The Times Union used to have a real reporter covering us. His name was Dennis Yusko. It would benefit our community for that newspaper to find someone of similar excellence to fill that role now.