Hill campaign threatens radio station’s advertising and broadcast license
May 8, 2015
(EDITOR’S NOTE: The Facebook page of “Jenny Herzog” described in this article disappeared on May 8, at 8:40 p.m., about seven hours after this posting.)
By DANIEL BLACKBURN
A mysterious, self-described volunteer for Supervisor Adam Hill’s reelection campaign has warned that the campaign would file a complaint with the FCC and turn advertisers away from KVEC and Dave Congalton’s talk show.
In a series of emails to KVEC General Manager Ron Roy beginning April 3, a person identifying herself as “Jenny Herzog” criticized Congalton for “personal attacks” on Hill. “Herzog” demanded that Hill be allowed to “guest host” the Home Town radio show.
“Herzog” identified herself as “a volunteer assigned to Hill’s campaign on behalf of a law firm that represents the Democratic Party.”
If the demands were not met, “Herzog” wrote, “We will file a formal complaint with the FCC. We will make the complaint public at a press conference, and with that will also come advice that no advertising be purchased for El Dorado Broadcasting by clients, donors, and associates.”
Roy told CalCoastNews that he rejected the ultimatum.
“I don’t take kindly to threats,” he said.
Pat Harris, chair of the San Luis Obispo County Democratic Party, said she does not know “Herzog.” Harris also said there was no such law firm.
“The local Democratic Party does not have a law firm that represents the organization,” Harris said.
“Herzog” said on her Facebook page that she is self-employed after working for the mass media company Conde Nast; that she studied corporate finance at Cal Poly; that she lives in Avila Beach; and that she was born May 19, 1989. No evidence exists that any of that information is factual.
And the photo of “Herzog” on the page is that of a Missouri woman, Kim Suozzi, who died in 2013 of an aggressive form of brain cancer.
Congalton lays some blame for the “Herzog” attacks on Hill although, he says, he has no direct proof.
“Hill is involved because his name was used in the original complaint. So I call upon him to repudiate these tactics and to investigate his supporters to find out if anyone was indeed responsible,” Congalton said. “Just when you think someone can’t sink any lower, they do.”
Hill has ignored repeated phone calls and detailed emails from CalCoastNews asking for comment on “Herzog.”
KVEC General Manager Roy acted appropriately, Congalton said.
“I think Ron Roy handled this ‘complaint’ fairly,” said Congalton. “He was far more patient that I would have been. I knew from the beginning that ‘Jenny Herzog’ never existed—she gave us only a gmail account as a means of identification. I would have called her out immediately or dismissed her. Hard to say if this was a prank, a test, or an ill-thought out strategy, but I doubt very seriously that the public would support any attempt to silence anyone in the local print or broadcast media.”
For several years, Hill has attempted to control content on KVEC by encouraging public officials like San Luis Obispo Councilman John Ashbaugh and SLO County Sheriff Ian Parkinson to refuse to go on Congalton’s show and attempting to damage Congalton’s reputation.
Hill regularly tries to prevent Congalton from discussing CalCoastNews articles about Hill or his wife. He has objected particularly to CalCoastNews Publisher Karen Velie’s appearances.
“Your protege has really outdone herself with her hit piece on Dee,” Hill said in an email to Congalton in 2012. “I sure hope you are not going to dignify her lies by having her on your show. I hope there is a line even you won’t cross. Watch for the push back, Dave.”
“Herzog” asked that KVEC provide Hill air time to defend his wife and promote his reelection.
“As you know, Mr. Roy,” one email read, “the airwaves are publicly owned, and you are KVEC’s designated public trustee on matters of equal access, and to ensure that no ‘rigging or slanting’ should reoccur when it is brought to your attention. It was brought to our attention that Mr. Congalton’s animosity toward Hill has long ago crossed the line from opinion to deliberate distortion and falsification.”
The “Herzog” emails alleged Velie “runs an anti-government website, and published a series of articles about Hill’s wife that made claims shown to be false and without merit.”
Torres-Hill was the subject of a 2013 CalCoastNews investigation that found misuses of charitable contributions to CAPSLO, at the time that Torres-Hill was the head of the organization. Torres-Hill was later demoted. She is on a leave of absence from her position and filed a whistle-blower suit against CAPSLO alleging she was demoted because she raised safety and security concerns at the Maxine Lewis homeless and the Prado Day Center.
The latest battle began shortly after a CalCoastNews February 2015 story about Torres-Hill. In fall 2014, Hill aggressively attempted to persuade members of the San Luis Obispo City Council to vote in favor of a land use change needed by developer Gary Grossman to develop large parcels near the airport. During that time, Grossman made a $50,000 donation to Torres-Hill’s SLO Housing Connection, a project that would compete with CAPSLO to provide services for the homeless.
Torres-Hill responded to the story with a hostile string of emails to Congalton which began on Feb. 28 at 6:34 p.m.
“You are honestly the biggest, most juvenile hypocrite I’ve ever had the misfortune to know,” Torres-Hill wrote. “Again, I’m done ignoring you and I’m certain this e-mail will spin off into a two week radio pummeling but I don’t care, go for it!”
By March 1, the emails became more heated as Torres-Hill launched an attack on Congalton’s wife, Charlotte, while accusing Congalton of infidelity.
“All I ever hear about you is negative. I haven’t heard a positive thing about you or your wife in years,” Torres-Hill said in a 2:53 a.m. email to Congalton. “They say that you fund the blog (CalCoastNews), you are sleeping with Velie, you’ve lost your mind, you funded her legal defense, you are obsessed with Velie, Charlotte used to be, or maybe still is, a man.”
Torres-Hill signs her emails, “Mother, daughter, wife, friend, survivor of domestic violence, poverty advocate, and all around decent person!!”
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