Interview Request to Ohio Mayor Sets Off Alarms for Bloomberg, Media Matters

by Jesse Hathaway

Before responding to a simple May 2012 interview request from Media Trackers Ohio, an employee of Columbus, Ohio Mayor Michael Coleman forwarded the request to Mayor Bloomberg's office and a liberal D.C. consultant, who in turn immediately alerted Media Matters for America. The Coleman staffer, R. Lee Roberts, receives a Mayors Against Illegal Guns (MAIG) salary but works from Coleman's office and participates in a taxpayer-funded retirement plan.

Mayor Coleman, a Democrat, is the Ohio chair of Bloomberg’s MAIG, an anti-Second Amendment lobbying group. Media Trackers has since used public records to prove Roberts coordinated with Bloomberg employees and far-left Ohio nonprofit ProgressOhio to advance MAIG’s policy agenda using the January 2011 Giffords shooting in Tucson and a February 2012 school shooting in Chardon, Ohio.

On May 23, 2012, Media Trackers emailed Mayor Coleman’s press secretary to request an interview regarding Coleman’s involvement with MAIG. The press secretary forwarded the email to Roberts, who in turn sent it to MAIG leaders Janey Rountree, Mark Glaze, and Christopher Kocher, noting “FYI…pretty nasty conservative blogger.” Rountree and Kocher work in Mayor Bloomberg’s office; Glaze is a D.C. lobbyist and the national director of MAIG.

That night, Glaze forwarded the email from Roberts to Matt Gertz, Deputy Research Director at Media Matters for America.

“Hey Matt – you familiar with this organization?” the D.C. consultant asked Media Matters, seeking information about the Ohio conservative news outlet requesting an interview with the Columbus mayor’s staff.

“If it actually breaks into media would be great if we could talk,” Glaze added in his email to Gertz.

Gertz replied in less than 15 minutes, writing, “As it happens I just read a profile of them — they’re a right-wing oppo research org with small teams working out of several states.” As evidence, the Media Matters deputy research director included a May 21 Mother Jones story about Media Trackers.

Glaze forwarded the Media Matters response and the Mother Jones story to Roberts in Mayor Coleman’s office half an hour later. Roberts immediately forwarded the message to Coleman’s press secretary.

Emails obtained by Media Trackers show that Roberts often uses a private email account for official business, presumably in an attempt to circumvent open records laws. However, many of the communications between Roberts and MAIG leadership in New York are eventually sent to or forwarded from a government email account, as was the case in this instance.

Two days before Media Trackers Ohio reached out to Mayor Coleman’s office requesting an interview, Bloomberg staffer Christopher Kocher emailed a story by a Florida blogger to Glaze, Roberts, and several other MAIG regional coordinators. Kocher sought to warn MAIG leaders that Sean Caranna, the president of Florida Carry Inc., had published a story criticizing Orlando MAIG coordinator Linda Vaughn.

Caranna found that a grant from the left-wing Joyce Foundation managed by Bloomberg’s office was insufficient to cover Vaughn’s salary. He reported that MAIG was leveraging taxpayer funds to reduce its overhead costs by installing MAIG lobbyists in mayor’s offices nationwide – effectively using public dollars to lobby against citizens’ Second Amendment rights.

Kocher preceded Caranna’s story with a note instructing MAIG coordinators, “if anyone contacts you about the article or if anything like this has come up previously for you, please let us know.”

In a response to the Florida story, Roberts noted that his “personal goal is to make Buckeye Firearms’ top 10 threats this year.” The Buckeye Firearms Association is a pro-Second Amendment group based in central Ohio.

It was Caranna’s coverage of MAIG that originally prompted Media Trackers Ohio to seek more information about the group’s activities in Ohio. A public records request filed with Mayor Coleman’s office yielded evidence of cynical opportunism which may prompt a “talk” between MAIG leadership and Media Matters for America, after all.

Click here to read the entire article at Media Trackers.

Editors note: The story on Media Trackers has links to the actual emails and other supporting information.

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