From the I'm-not-in-it-for-the-money file: There is no payola from Pickering

I feel Auditor Stacey Pickering's pain. I have never seen an award-winning state official get so much grief for getting an award.

His critics say he's undeserving of any honor because he didn't audit DMR. They seem perfectly happy, though, with the contempt of court citation he received for his role in denying the Sun Herald the DMR records.

His office sent me the press release about the David M. Walker Excellence in Government and Accountability Award so I posted it on Crawdaddy. It's pretty clear from the post that it's all a news release from the OSA.

(Full disclosure: Neither I nor the Sun Herald was compensated for running the release.)

I figured the release was of some interest but I never dreamed it would get this interesting.

Enter Doug Handshoe of the Slabbed blog, who has a tendency to go off half-cocked.

(Full disclosure: The previous statement was not paid for by the OSA.)

And even though Handshoe isn't paying me, I'll re-create part of his post. First he noted that Jackson Jambalaya noted at the end of the release from the OSA that "This is a paid advertisement."

Then he wondered who else was getting paid.

"Here at Slabbed New Media we’re hip to the concept of payola thus the reason I wonder about undisclosed monetary consideration in exchange for the promotion. To be clear I am not accusing the Sun Herald or Paul Hampton of anything improper because this may simply be a case of getting some cheap content on the run."  

OSA Spokesman Brett Kittredge quickly responded:

The auditor's campaign has paid advertising deals with a couple blogs, and part of that agreement is a guarantee to run certain press releases.
But this is done from the campaign, not the state and if you have further questions you might want to call Brad White as I didn't have anything to do with it, or other functions related to the campaign.

White said the Pickering campaign bought an ad that appears on the JJ homepage and JJ agreed to run the OSA's releases.

About that disclosure at the end of the release? "That's not entirely true," White said.

When asked who is running the campaign and making the calls on the ad purchases, he said it was Pickering himself.

This isn't the Senate race," he said. "There isn't campaign staff, it's just Stacey."

He said the advertising is just a pre-emptive strike against anyone contemplating a challenge in next year's election

Anyone for Tea?