St. Pete Times Takes Swing at Pinellas GOP, Hits Self
By Spartacus Thrace
David DeCamp, Staff Writer for the St. Petersburg Times, appears to be trying to create the impression of trouble within the local Republican Party organization where none exists. Worse, he and his newspaper are taking directions from a Democrat blogger with an extensive criminal past and an anti-Republican agenda — and they aren’t informing their readers of this.
In today’s print edition of the Times, page B1, above the fold, appears the headline, “Pinellas GOP spending rises,” below which is the ominous subtitle, “The local chief says the party is running perfectly, but donations are down.” The electronic version available on the internet is titled, “Pinellas Republican spending rises with new chairman as donations drop.” The first sentence of the article written by DeCamp reads, “Tampa Bay area political parties are scaling back in these tough times — Except the Pinellas County Republican Party.” What follows is an article that suggests — but does not directly assert — that there is something wrong with the way in which Pinellas County Republican Executive Committee (PCREC) Chairman J.J. Beyrouti is running things.
In framing the story, the reader is told that the PCREC spent $103,000 over the first nine months of 2009, and that this is a 59% increase over the same period in 2005, while donations during those same periods declined from $161,000 in 2005 to $126,000 this year. The reader is not told that the 2009 expenditures of the PCREC are in line with its expenditures in 2007 and 2008. The author also forgot to mention the effects of four years of inflation on costs in general, the greater number of events held by the PCREC in 2009 over 2005, the general decline in Republican donations as a result of dissatisfaction with the John McCain candidacy combined with a faltering economy, or the fact that there are now many more registered Democrats than Republicans in an increasingly “Blue” Pinellas County.
Deep into the story the reader finds that in his first year of office Beyrouti has drastically cut overhead costs to approximately what they were four years ago, raised the PCREC reserves to $70,000 (from $40,000, although the article doesn’t mention this), and doubled PCREC membership from 120 to 240 people. Through one’s own analysis of the information in the article the reader also learns that local Democratic Party spending in 2009 through the month of September was 500% of what it was in 2005, and that Beyrouti has raised more donations in 2009 than were raised by the Republican organizations in Pasco and Hillsborough counties combined, and more than three times what the Democrats in Pinellas County raised — all done during the greatest economic recession since the Great Depression. This smacks of great success, not controversy.
The suggestion that Beyrouti is a controversial figure is as abjectly false in the article as it is in the uncited blog posts upon which the article is drawn: The truth is, Beyrouti is an extremely popular leader among the local Republicans who enjoys a solid reputation for honesty, integrity, and frugality, and who has been the driving force behind the great strides the PCREC has made over the past year.
The Times owes Beyrouti and the local GOP organization an apology for its article.