PUBLISHER CHARGED FOR DISCOUNTING ELECTION ADS

By: Mark Fitzgerald

Michigan’s First Case Involving Publisher’s Alleged Campaign Law Violation


CHICAGO – In an apparently unprecedented application of
election law, the ex-publisher of the Cheboygan (Mich.)
Daily Tribune, Roy S. Trahan II, was charged with four
felonies for allegedly giving preferential campaign ad rates to a
candidate for mayor.

Trahan, now publisher of The News-Gazette, a 4,358-
circulation daily in Winchester, Ind., was arraigned Feb. 2 in
district court in Cheboygan on four felony counts of violating
the Michigan Campaign Finance Law. State prosecutors allege
Trahan violated the law by charging Cheboygan mayoral candidate
Thomas VerWys $1 for four campaign ads that ran last March while
charging his opponent, Bill Chlopan, who ultimately won the
election, the standard rate of $5.20 per column inch.

Trahan faces a maximum penalty of three years in prison and fines
of up to $20,000 on the charges, the Michigan attorney general’s
office said.

This is apparently the first time a Michigan newspaper publisher
has ever been charged with a felony campaign law violation, said
Elizabeth Boyd, spokeswoman for the Michigan secretary of state.

The case is unusual in another way: the Daily Tribune’s
former editor, Adrienne Janney, was the one who brought the charges to police attention.

Trahan was placed on administrative leave in April and resigned
from the paper in May. Trahan declined to comment on the charges, as did his attorney,
Mike Hackett, who said he was in negotiations with state prosecutors.



Mark Fitzgerald (mfitzgerald@editorandpublisher.com) is editor at large for E&P.



Related story:

FORMER MICHIGAN PUBLISHER CHARGED (02/05/01)



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