Ad nauseam

Nov 2, 2005 at 12:00 am

News Hits has been trying to find out who’s behind an anti-Freman Hendrix attack ad that ran recently in two African-American papers, the Michigan Chronicle and the Michigan Citizen.

The ad shows faded photos of black men being lynched, and labels four political commentators — the Freep’s Brian Dickerson, the NewsNolan Finley, Mildred Gaddis of Inside Detroit on radio station WCHB (1200-AM), and the Metro Times’ very own Jack Lessenberry — a white media “lynch mob” that has it in for Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick. How Gaddis, who’s black, wound up being part of the white mob is a fair question. An even better query, though, is who ponied up the cash for this despicable hit.

A line at the bottom of the ad says it’s paid for by “Citizens for Honest Government,” a political action committee. But PAC treasurer Bill Miller says his group isn’t responsible.

“I had nothing to do with that ad,” Miller says. “It was not paid for, approved of, written, inserted, none of the above, by us.”

Citizens for Honest Government has missed two filing deadlines for campaign finance disclosure reports that would reveal the PAC’s contributors and expenditures.

Miller says there’ve been no reports because the PAC hasn’t had any financial activity. It was created in April of this year, Miller says, to start researching Detroit mayoral candidates, but that was as far as things went.

Citizens for Honest Government “didn’t make any expenditures on the behalf of anyone,” says Miller, who personally supported Sharon McPhail in the August mayoral primary. “It’s an inactive PAC in the process of being disbanded.”

Miller is also treasurer of another PAC that’s run anonymously funded attack ads — Citizens for Judicial Reform. Before Miller took over as treasurer, that group ran a series of ads against state Supreme Court candidate Stephen Markman during last year’s election. This summer Southfield attorney Geoffrey Fieger revealed that he’d bankrolled the organization to the tune of $400,000. Miller came on board with Citizens for Judicial Reform in April, right around the time he started Citizens for Honest Government.

We called the Chronicle and the Citizen to find out from them who placed the ad, but didn’t get far. Michigan Chronicle publisher Sam Logan says he’s just as much in the dark as everyone else.

“When we run political ads, we don’t go and try to find out who was what,” Logan says. “If I tried to check everything that came in, I would never have any time.”

Asked how the ad was paid for, Logan replied, “I like to get cash with political ads, because if that person doesn’t win, you might never get your money. Quite frankly, in my case as a publisher, where in the world do I care if it’s cash, or a check, or mailed in?”

Michigan Citizen publisher Catherine Kelly was brief: “I have talked to a couple of people who have different opinions about who ran the ads. We’re working on a story about it.” Kelly promised to give us a more complete statement, but hadn’t by press time Monday.

Miller told News Hits that before the lynching ad hit the spotlight, the secretary of state had told him he could simply disband Citizens for Honest Government.

Now, he says, he’s not sure what will happen.

Send comments to [email protected]