Is Michelle Martinez Buying Positive Blog Coverage?

We’ve spent the past few days reviewing the financial reports of various candidates for office throughout Orange County.  And something on Michelle Martinez, an unopposed candidate for re-election for Santa Ana City Council, jumped out at us. 

Michelle paid $385 to Pedroza and Associates for “campaign consulting.”  This is interesting because Pedroza and Associates, run by SAUSD decline-to-state candidate/Orange Juice Blog publisher Art Pedroza, is a safety consulting company. A quick look at Martinez’s website and blog shows the same design elements and copywriting style Pedroza uses on OJ and the New Santa Ana blog; there’s considerable shared content, so perhaps Pedroza and Associates have expanded their services.

So we have to ask: Is Michelle Martinez paying Pedroza and Associates for positive blog coverage? And should Pedroza disclose that he is a paid consultant to the campaign to have Martinez re-elected to City Council.  Martinez won’t return emails or phone calls to us at the encouragement of Pedroza and Mill, so there goes her ofted-stated stance that she’s open and accessible for questions.  What’s the ethical thing to do here? 

So I emailed both Martinez and Pedroza about the expenditure; Pedroza replied and dragged his toady Sean Mill into the fray right away.  Both advised Martinez not to communicate with me since I don’t live in Santa Ana (but of course, that’s never stopped Pedroza or Mill from writing about Irvine, Anaheim, Costa Mesa, Orange and any other community in Orange County).

Here’s a portion of our exchange with Michelle’s campaign consultants, begining with the first reply from Pedroza:

Dan,

You are not a reporter and even if you were I would not answer any of your questions.  I have advised Councilmember Martinez to likewise ignore you.  You live in Irvine.  Prevatt lives in Long Beach.  If you lived here in Santa Ana I might be inclined to answer you, but you don’t, so I won’t.

 Art Pedroza

A note: I have a credentialed press identification issued by the Orange County sheriff’s department. And as for noting living in Santa Ana, the Register’s Santa Ana beat reporter Doug Irving doesn’t live in the city either; does this mean Martinez won’t speak with him?

Here’s a complete string, so scroll down and read up (email addresses deleted, but Martinez is copied on each of these):

We can write about whatever we want.  But we don’t expect or demand that people talk to us.  And for the record, your lame blog is practically dead.  Check out our readership data.  That’s more like it.  Congrats on killing your blog.

Art

****

Please don’t lecture me about bias Sean.  The councilwoman can speak for herself.

(from DC)

From: seanhmill
Sent: Wednesday, October 06, 2010 6:07 PM
To: Dan Chmielewski; chrisprevatt; ‘Art Pedroza’
Cc: ‘Michele Martinez’
Subject: Re: question

Dan,
I am sure she can but my advice to her is to ignore you, Prevatt and the unhinged Gallegos. You are not journalists, you are not constituents and you are not unbiased.

She has nothing to gain by responding to you, you people will do a hatchet job on her and her allies no matter what she says.

if she is smart she will ignore you as will the rest of the council.

Sean

From: “Dan Chmielewski”

Date: Wed, 6 Oct 2010 18:03:23 -0700

To: <seanhmill>; <chrisprevatt>; ‘Art Pedroza'<Cc: ‘Michele Martinez’Subject: RE: question

Sean –

The Councilwoman can speak for herself. I have never given her a reason not to.

Two simple questions for Ms. Martinez:  what was the nature of the consulting work done by a safety company for an elective office and why wasn’t Councilman Benavides included in a campaign video featuring other Democratic candidates for council and current Democratic council members not up for re-election.  If she refuses to answer, then her previous contention about being honest and open simply isn’t true.

 Dan

From: seanhmill

Sent: Wednesday, October 06, 2010 5:56 PM
To: Dan Chmielewski; chrisprevatt; ‘Art Pedroza’
Cc: ‘Michele Martinez’
Subject: Re: question

Michele,
Do yourself a favor and ignore these characters. They have an agenda that includes attacking you and your allies.

They will write what they are going to write whether you answer or not.

Sean

****

And here’s my favorite message from Art (start down at my message and scroll up for context):

What campaign?  She is unopposed you moron.

Art

sent from my AT&T Smartphone by HTC

—– Reply message —–
From: “Dan Chmielewski”

Date: Wed, Oct 6, 2010 7:38 pm
Subject: question
To: apedroza

So Art, back to the question.  When Matt Cunningham has a client who pays him and he blogs about it, he discloses the information that he’s a paid consultant to the campaign.  The question is why don’t you do the same thing in regards to the Martinez campaign?  Do you think you are being ethical by blogging about her and not disclosing the paid relationship?

Now Art’s message is moronic on a number of levels. Martinez has raised money and spent money on a campaign where she has no opponent; so if she has no campaign, as her consultant alleges, exactly who is the moron writing a check to Pedroza and Associates and what is the check for? 

Since Martinez is the subject of often flattering posts on blogs run by Pedroza, is it because he truly believes she’s doing a great job or because he’s been paid to say she’s doing a great job?  The Orange Juice hasn’t published a single negative post about anyone on the Santa Ana city council except for Council member David Benavides and Council member Carlos Bustamante. And Martinez and Council member Sal Tinajero have been the subject of a number of posts here about accepting campaign donations and voting on projects related to these donations — these posts have been written by others here and not me. 

Martinez might not like it, but we’re an established member of the OC media and she’s had nearly 48 hours to get back to multiple messages left by me.  If she’s paid for media relations advice from Pedorza and Mill, she ought to ask for her money back.

I’ve viewed the “I’m Santa Ana and Santa Ana is Great” video on Martinez’s blog, and have to question why Council member David Benavides wasn’t included, as he is up for re-election, but Mayor Pro Tem Claudia Alavarez and Council member Vince Sarmiento — who are not up for re-election, are in the video with Mayor Miguel Pulido and Council member Sal Tinajero.  It’s unclear who produced the video but all fingers were pointing to Martinez for the answer.  She’s declined.

I’m fully prepared to accept Council member Martinez’s explanation that she hired Pedroza and Associates to set up her blog.  But given the significant amount of shared content — all glowing — and Art’s current financial situation (a home in foreclosure and multiple credit card fraud lawsuits filed against him this year), one has to wonder who sold out to whom?  Martinez IS a sitting member of the city council; is she really taking marching orders from Pedroza and Mill or is she her own person?  Did she pay for fawning blog coverage to cover her role in accepting illegal contributions from parties related to projects she voted on? Or are both parties in this little relationship morally and ethically bankrupt?

So I’ll pose this question to Art:  If I cut you a check for $385, does it mean you’ll give us fawning coverage on your blog?  There’s a word for that….let me ponder it….(readers, can you guess?)

  12 comments for “Is Michelle Martinez Buying Positive Blog Coverage?

  1. jose s.
    October 8, 2010 at 2:57 pm

    wow! very interesting. i have to say i’m really dissapointed to hear sean mill is mixed up in this i have a lot of respect for him. i still cant believe the support for pulido and the rest of his minions by the oj i just cant seem to wrap my brain around that one. very sad. and cheminowski, i want to say congrats for going through such a long post about art and not mentioning the word nambla. i know it must have been hard for you but you did it and managed to pull it off without sounding like a tool. bravo!

  2. October 8, 2010 at 4:30 pm

    Jose — what do you think of the Santa Ana Business Association; these groups are usually led by successful business leaders. This look slike an attempt to monetize New Santa Ana and line Art’s pockets. And don’t you want business advice on planning from a title company customer service representative? I’m sure the businesses in Santa Ana are lining up….

  3. art lomeli
    October 8, 2010 at 4:51 pm

    Dan,

    Great job. You hit the nail on the head about Pedroza and Mill’s consulting group “Santa Ana Business association”.

    Is the consulting group Michele paid “Pedroza and associates” the same as ” Santa Ana Business Association?

    Do they have business licenses for this or these businesses?

    Never mind Pedroza and Mill advising Michele not to respond to inquiries regarding her campaign. I understand it is public information and the candidate needs to reply to the public.

    Are Pedroza and Mill guilty of obstruction by wrongfully advice the Councilwoman?

  4. Dan Chmielewski
    October 8, 2010 at 6:43 pm

    Well Art only paid his back business taxes last month for the blog. The business association is likely a non profit but its doubtful he has filed the appropriate paperwork. Art remind us all the time that he has no money

  5. junior
    October 8, 2010 at 11:59 pm

    “There’s a word for that….let me ponder it….(readers, can you guess?)”

    I guess that the word is “payola.”

  6. Steve
    October 9, 2010 at 10:40 am

    I think the word Dan is getting at is “shill”.

    But then sometimes words fail me…I have to marvel at these instances of the pot calling the kettle black on the part of Mr. Mill;

    “You are not unbiased”.

    “You are not journalists”.

    “You people will do a hatchet job…”

    “They have an agenda…”

  7. art lomeli
    October 9, 2010 at 4:25 pm

    Pedroza is right Michele has no campaign. Thus the argument…. can’t associate payment to her campaign.

    Apparently Michele was chosen to get the employment appearance for the protective OJ blog mode for Pulido and Tinajero.

    Mill and Pedroza have stated publicly their support for Pulido and Tinajero and fiercely protect them on their blog.

    SO NOW WE KNOW WHY THEY DEFEND AND SUPPORT PULIDO AND TINAJERO….PEDROZA AND ASSOCIATES GET PAID TO DO THAT.

  8. Dan Chmielewski
    October 10, 2010 at 11:48 am

    We haven’t seeen Councilmember Tinajero’s reports yet, so if there’s a check for Pedroza and Associates, then it clearly explains why the only coverage they get is positive

  9. Randall
    October 11, 2010 at 10:36 am

    Bloggers influenced by money? I’m shocked!

    I see Jordan Brandman’s photo and link on the OCLiberal homepage yet no mention of his recent anti-gay comments.

    • October 11, 2010 at 10:45 am

      If you review his complete answer in context, it’s not anti-gay. In addition, the California Department of Education actually provides each school district with a limited choice of textbooks; all pretty much have the same content.

      And while I detest the use of the phrase “gay friends” as if that somehow diminishes the value of said friendships, Jordan has a number of friends who are gay who’d scoff at your suggestion he’s bigoted in any way. Unfortunately, many of their pro-Jordan comments are being deleted on the other blog as they don’t fit the narrative.

  10. Advantage Title Flunky
    October 11, 2010 at 11:02 am

    As an advisor to Her Holiness Michele Martinez, I oversee her political machinations from a secure location otherwise known as ” Mothers House” from which I recommend she form a fat kid task force as well as a usual suspect injunction and top secret council meetings.

  11. October 11, 2010 at 2:58 pm

    Norman Bates: Mother! Oh God, mother! Blood! Blood!

    Norman Bates: Uh-uh, Mother-m-mother, uh, what is the phrase? She isn’t quite herself today.

    Norman Bates: She might have fooled me, but she didn’t fool my mother.

    Norman Bates: A boy’s best friend is his mother.

Comments are closed.