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Why we published Patterson scoops

I launched The Sacto Politico in response to the paucity of quality political news and analysis in the Sacramento area. I admire The Washington Post’s motto that “Democracy dies in darkness,” and the goal is to give my community an extra flashlight to help guide it through our politically dim times.

Today’s exclusive package of stories exemplifies this commitment. We are publishing a week earlier than our normal schedule to provide area voters this information at the start of the mail-in voting period.

This package exposes a surprising number of far-right connections by a major-party-endorsed candidate for Congress (Buzz Patterson, CA-7). It reports he trained his staff and supporters using a former member of one of the nation’s largest hate groups. It exposes he regularly appears on an Internet talk show hosted by a QAnon supporter who he calls “brilliant” and who called for President Trump to “green light” gun-owning vigilantes to violently clear our streets of “antifa” protesters.

We published not because any of these connections break any law, but to bring them out into the light. That said, the Patterson campaign does appear in violation of federal campaign finance disclosure rules. According to the Federal Election Commission database, his campaign has failed to make any quarterly filings for the period from Oct. 1, 2019 to June 30, 2020. (The next quarter is due next week.) Thus no one can review who his donors are, how he spends campaign funds, and whether he is operating within our campaign laws.

The package also shines light on a variety of Patterson’s endorsers. These include Republican party organizations, elected officials, the chamber of commerce of Sacramento’s largest suburb, a deputy sheriff’s association, a veterans organization and the state’s leading taxpayers organization. All were contacted, and most refused comment about Patterson’s far-right associations and going dark with his campaign finances.

We published because no major local media saw fit to report on this. This was not because the stories required special access or leaked documents. They simply required diligent research and a belief the sunshine of publishing is the best disinfectant for starting to heal our democratic systems.

During my reporting, the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association made an interesting remark. They endorsed Patterson long before these connections came to life, but when asked if they stood behind that endorsement, they would not say yes or no. Instead they charged I had no standing to even inquire. Their reasoning: because I ran a longshot campaign in the March primary for the same seat, I forfeited my right to look into these issues.

Clearly I disagree. I am a trained journalist who worked for 20 years as a reporter, editor and freelance writer. My motivation to run for office sprang from deep-seated commitment to the public interest. My experiences as a candidate only deepened this commitment, which I continue through my public-interest journalism in this package.

The reality is our modern society suffers a shortage of good stewards, and too many large institutions, wealthy citizens and candidates for office feel they live beyond the reach of public inquiry.

Which is why we publish.

For other articles in this news package, visit:

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