The Voice has been featured prominently in Tulare Mayor Carlton Jones’ last two interviews on KTIP AM 1450, the Porterville-based news/talk radio station spanning Tulare County.
In dial-ins on January 15 and 22, Jones discussed — and took issue with — the Voice‘s coverage of him in Catherine Doe’s Political Fix opinion column that appears in each issue, and in the Voice‘s news coverage as well.
On the 15th, Jones stated that he had “never taken any type of campaign money running for city council, especially HCCA.”
After a request for comment from KTIP regarding its reporting, Doe responded stating that Jones had taken donations in his 2012 campaign; Doe conceded that there was no paperwork backing a claim of donations being received by HCCA, since Jones did not file official contribution paperwork in 2016.
She also provided a list of donors from the 2012 election; P.K. Whitmire, a KTIP host, reiterated Doe’s statement on the air.
“I’ve been trying to get to talk to somebody from the Valley Voice, and have not been making contact directly,” P.K. said , “but I have gotten an email where they’d like to correct some of the things that they have heard you saying, and that had to do with back going back to donations that were made your campaign in 2012 and 2016. There’s a list, I guess, for 2012. And, apparently you didn’t file for the last time for 2016.”
“So, I’ve never taken campaign contributions for my city council races,” Jones responded.
Additionally, Jones stated that he had never received contributions from a firefighters’ union. He did not clarify whether he meant Tulare’s firefighters’ association, or Fresno’s.
“So, the firefighters endorsed me and we made it clear that I don’t need their money. They never raised it. If she’s calling the firefighters a liar — if she says that firefighters raised money for me, you’re free to contact their union and ask them if they’ve ever raised money for the ad or giving any money,” Jones said on the air.
“That’s never been the case, and I’ve never asked for it, and they’ve never offered it. So there’s nothing wrong with that.”
Campaign finance documents publicly available at Tulare City Hall tell a different story.
Cindi Jones, Carlton’s wife, was listed as the treasurer for “Friends of Carlton Jones for Tulare City Council 2012,” a “recipient committee” formed under California law to accept donations for Jones’ 2012 run.
The records, signed by Jones’ wife as treasurer, show he did accept $1,000 from the Fresno Fire PAC on September 28, 2012.
A second set of documents show that Jones later accepted donations from Kevin Blain and Miguel Trujillo, both for $100; additionally, Jones lent his campaign $400.
Those donations, the documents show, were spent on yard signs, banners, stickers, and other promotional items with Insight Design & Printing in Fresno.
Jones did, additionally, receive an endorsement from the Tulare Firefighters Association and Tulare Police Officers Association alongside Greg Nunley.
Both Jones and Councilman Nunley were promoted by the groups in a half-page ad in another local news source.
As for the 2016 election, the total contribution limit was raised to $2000 before candidates had to itemize their donations.
It does not mean that the candidate did not receive campaign donations, in kind donations, or did not do fundraisers. It means they either raised less than $2000 or did not report it.
If a candidate does not have a treasurer or a separate campaign bank account, which Jones apparently did not, then there is no public way to confirm how much that candidate raised or spent.
A Voice source, who lives in Tulare said at the time, Jones “had a flood of new signs after Phil Smith put up his signs.”
Smith, a Jones opponent, raised more than $3,000 in contributions, some of which went to signage.
Re: Hensley Comments
“And the only issue I have is one of the big things that they’re talking about is they say that I come on your radio show that I badmouth Chief Hensley,” Jones added. “So you guys can testify to that. I definitely can testify to that that none of it’s true. I would never say — especially, he’s a city employee — you never heard me come on and dog on any of our employees.”
Neither Doe nor Joseph Oldenbourg, the Voice‘s columnists, have stated that Jones’ comments on the radio “badmouth Chief Hensley.”
Statements to that effect have been printed in the Voice, but come from Michael Lampe, a local attorney representing Hensley. Lampe is not an employee of the newspaper.
“Every Monday for the last several weeks Mr. Jones has appeared on KTIP radio and made statements that violate Chief Hensley’s due process rights under both the Peace Officers Bill of Rights and the City of Tulare’s personnel rules,” a letter from Lampe, embedded in a recent article, read.
“Lampe also states, despite requests, the chief has not been allowed to view his own personnel file and was attacked by the mayor during a K-TIP radio interview,” another article read.
Jones’ full audio is available at KTIP’s Hopper Chats section.
Catherine Doe contributed all reporting on 2016 campaign donations.