“You give muckrakers a bad name.” – Judge Gary Kreep
I never quiet understood what Kreep meant by that, but I’ve always taken it as a compliment. If there’s a spectrum of muckraking, with dainty mainstream-media criticism on one end and shit-throwing primal scandalmongering on the other, I proudly count myself among sifting through sludge.
After all, I once wrote and edited a column for San Diego CityBeat called “Turds & Blossoms,” a winners-and-losers column named in honor of Karl Rove. Here is a selection of politicians, agencies and other public figures that I’ve annoyed over the years.
Jerome Block Jr.
In 2008, Barack Obama’s hurricane campaign swept a lot of Democrats into office, including some exceptionally unqualified candidates. Jerome Block Jr. was elected to the New Mexico Public Regulation Commission, even after we caught him lying about his criminal record and embezzling money from his campaign. The individual stories I wrote for the Santa Fe Reporter have largely been swallowed up by website re-boots, but I summarized Block’s rise and fall in this piece for the San Diego Public Library’s “Your Democracy” showcase.
It can’t be easy to be gay and Republican, but it must be hell to have the assholes at the local alt weekly scrutinizing (and mocking) your every move. I was one of the authors of San Diego CityBeat’s alphabetical takedown of the city councilman when he was running for mayor. Few other examples: I also described him as a Wikipedia weasel, revealed emails detailing how he sold out the LGBT community, and (along with Megan O’Connor) created this Cult of Carl poster. Despite all that, DeMaio still respects me, apparently.
Bill Horn is pretty much bulletproof. His constituents keep sending him back the San Diego County Board of Supervisors, despite a slew of ethics scandals that predated my stint in San Diego. But I still took a show anyway, including the CityBeat‘s “Flush Bill Horn” hit issue in 2010, which revealed Horn as a slumlord and his shady campaign finances. I had more luck when we uncovered how he was channeling government grants to a group that provided scripture-based pro-life, anti-gay educational materials to elementary schools. The money was yanked for that and another program.
Best known as the leader of the “Birther” movement’s legal crusade again Barack Obama, Gary Kreep won a seat on the San Diego Superior Court bench in 2012.
Here’s why he was so furious with me:
A master of political hits and campaign shell games prepares to take a seat on the Superior Court bench.
Gary Kreep’s family-law record
Birther judge-elect opposed parental rights for communists and lesbians as a lawyer, and faced allegations of spousal abuse
A morning in Judge Kreep’s Department 3
Goodbye, vast right-wing conspiracy; hello, small misdemeanor court
The last right-wing conspiracy?
State watchdog and Legislature move to curb Judge Gary Kreep’s dirty tricks
Service Authority for Freeway Emergencies
This independent agency collected $1 for every car in San Diego each year. It was supposed to go to maintain the county’s emergency call box system, but instead I revealed it was stockpiling the money in essentially a slush fund. As a result of the reporting, the agency was disbanded by the California legislature. (Also, there are Bill Horn and Carl DeMaio ties here.)
I dug hard into Zapf during her run for San Diego City Council, obtaining homophobic emails she sent and reporting on her mortgage issues. To be fair, I also took her opponent to task over his record and pension. Zapf and I have since made nice.