From the New York World:
Months after the New York World first highlighted the practice, a pair of Queens community newspapers persisted in handing out endorsements to political candidates who are paying clients of the papers’ affiliated political consulting firm, a review of campaign filings reveals.
In 2013, in competitive primary and general electoral races, all candidates who hired the firm, Multi-Media Advertising, and spent more money than rivals on consulting services and ads in the Queens Tribune and PRESS of Southeast Queens received an endorsement in at least one of the two newspapers.
The endorsements did not disclose the business transactions to readers.
In all, the endorsed candidates and their outside supporters spent a total of more than $268,000 on Multi-Media during the 2013 election cycle. The largest sum came from Republican mayoral candidate John Catsimatidis, who paid Multi-Media $135,000 for consulting services, printing and postage for his campaign.
Five days before the primary, the Tribune’s editorial page endorsed Catsimatidis for the Republican mayoral primary: “Catsimatidis is an approachable billionaire,” it raved. “He loves people and he loves this City…he will bring into his administration bright people.” The other candidates on the Republican ballot, Joe Lhota and George McDonald, were not Multi-Media clients.
Catsimatidis was not available for comment.
The Tribune and PRESS of Southeast Queens endorsed candidates in 19 competitive races on the ballot in Queens. In all nine contests in which a Multi-Media client was in the running, the papers’ editorial pages endorsed the candidate who did the most business with Multi-Media and the publications. (If that candidate was defeated in the primary, the Tribune and the PRESS in some cases endorsed for the general election a candidate with smaller or no business ties with the firm.)
Among the Tribune’s endorsements was one for Reshma Saujani in the public advocate primary. Saujani spent $5,400 on ads in the Tribune and PRESS of Southeast Queens. Rival Daniel Squadron had spent $340 to have Multi-Media print his primary ballot petitions, but nothing on advertising with the paper.
When the World reported the connection between the papers and consultancy last year, the newspapers and the political consulting firm were both owned by Tribco LLC. They continue to share the same address in Whitestone, the Tribune’s website, the PRESS’ website, and a recent ad for Multi-Media show.
The Tribune and PRESS’ editor-in-chief, Steven Ferrari, declined to comment when reached over the phone and by email. Their publisher, Michael Nussbaum, who is also Multi-Media’s president, did not respond to an email and a phone call; The New York World visited the office but was told that Nussbaum was not available to meet.