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Mercury News Asked To Alert Subscribers to Dirty Trick By Prop 33 Backers; Paid E-mail Advertisement Looks Like Mercury News Endorses Measure When It Opposes Prop 33

Publisher Asked To Send Clarifying Email To Subscribers, Questioned Over Email Fraud

SANTA MONICA, Calif., Nov. 5, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Consumer Watchdog Campaign today called upon the publisher of the San Jose Mercury News to send an email to subscribers correcting the record on a misleading paid advertisement sent out by email over the weekend which made it appear that the newspaper editorialized for Prop 33 when in fact it came out against it.

The paid email advertisement said it was from "San Jose Mercury News" with the subject line "Be informed, Prop 33 will save you money!" Only at the very bottom of the email, in a font that is nearly impossible to read, does it note that it is a "Political advertisement paid for by George Joseph."

View the ad:

Consumer Watchdog Campaign wrote: "The email is either a fraud, which we suspect, or the newspaper has allowed a political campaign to inappropriately use its masthead in a mass email effort before a close election in a way that will clearly deceive subscribers.

"We urge you to clarify as early as possible today how the masthead was used in this way and ask that a clarifying email be sent to your email subscribers pointing out that the Mercury News opposes Prop 33 and that any other email received was in fact a paid advertisement.

"If the newspaper sanctioned this email it would be an unprecedented breach of the firewall between editorial and business operations. The graphic and headline fail to identify that it is a paid advertisement and would no doubt violate your own newspaper's guidelines for such commercial emails.

"For political emails, in a close election, the stakes are even higher. The votes of your email subscribers could turn the election and they should not be misled."

Download the letter:

The Mercury News editorial opposing Proposition 33 stated:

"Two years ago billionaire George Joseph, chairman of Mercury Insurance, spent $16 million of the company's money on Proposition 17, a direct attack on California's strong insurance rights laws. At the time, we called it the worst abuse of California's initiative process on the 2010 ballot, which was saying something, since it was competing with PG&E's $46 million assault on its potential competitors.

"Like an irritating mosquito, Joseph and his millions are back again this year with Proposition 33, essentially a new version of the law voters rejected two years ago.

"California voters should vote no on Proposition 33 on Nov. 6 in such large numbers that Joseph never tries to dupe Golden State residents again."

Find the full Mercury News editorial here:

For more information on why to vote No on Prop 33, visit

SOURCE Consumer Watchdog Campaign

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