The Center for Public Integrity’s Corbin Hiar reports that KSTP owner Hubbard Broadcasting, Inc. gave Karl Rove’s American Crossroads “Super PAC” $100,000, according to a federal disclosure form filed Tuesday. CPI earlier reported Crossroads-affiliated groups plan to spend $300 million this election cycle attacking Democrats to elect Republicans.
Although Hiar writes, “this appears to be the first time Executive Chairman Stanley S. Hubbard has made a political donation directly from corporate coffers,” that may only be true at the federal level. In the 2010 Minnesota gubernatorial race, HBI donated $100,000 to Minnesota Forward, a group backing Republican nominee Tom Emmer.
A Supreme Court decision earlier that year allowed corporations to donate to third-party groups doing “electioneering communications.” Stanley Hubbard has been a longtime donor to GOP candidates and causes, with occasional donations to Democrats (including Dayton in the run-up to his abortive 2006 Senate re-election run).
The Center for Responsive Politics ranks Hubbard and wife Karen 11th in individual donors for the 2012 cycle, giving $210,759.
HBI gave American Crossroads the $100K Nov. 29. It’s possible that Hubbard and HBI have given even more: Rove’s other group, Crossroads GPS, does not have to disclose its donors. It raised $33 million last year, according to Politico.
The American Crossroad super PAC, which raised $18 million in 2011, can accept unlimited contributions for attack ads, but must disclose donors. Crossroads GPS can keep its donors secret, but must spend less than half its funds on explicitly “electioneering” ads.
So what does it mean for a news operation whose owners are contributing on an individual and corporate level, in state and federal races?
At the very least, KSTP must do the sort of disclosure Crossroads GPS need not bother with. The newsroom was red-faced two years ago when it failed to disclose corporate entanglements in news stories about Minnesota Forward’s ads. Such disclaimers should become more numerous in 2012.
Beyond that? I’ve questioned KSTP’s “Truth Tests” in the past, though I regard political reporter Tom Hauser as a professional with integrity, and there’s no doubt the station has a good working relationship with conservative research organizations like the Freedom Foundation of Minnesota.
Do I sometimes think KSTP has its thumb on the scale about government spending and “your money”? Sure, and I’ll be watching their election coverage even more closely in light of this. But I’m also prepared to admit my opinion can reflect my biases as much as any there that may trickle down.
Should you watch them skeptically? Yes, and management’s increasing contributions should only heighten that skepticism. But then, again, you should watch us all skeptically.
In his story, the Center for Public Integrity’s Hiar noted a “quick search” of news media names or organizations “did not turn up any donations given to progressive super PACs this election cycle”