reported from Las Vegas, Nevada

Can the Culinary hold its membership to its Obama endorsement (and turn it out) by acknowledging members might support Clinton but urging them to put union loyalty above their candidate affinity? The “It’s the union above all else” pitch began Wednesday when Secretary-Treasurer D. Taylor announced the Obama endorsement. He praised all the candidates but made it clear that his members value union solidarity above all. Or do they? – Power of Culinary Union hangs in balance as its protege Kihuen tries to break Obama hold, by Jon Ralston

The Las Vegas Sun has called into question a post I wrote regarding union intimidation. Being a strong believer in freedom of the press I would normally not respond to such an article. However, they have called into question my credibility and I feel compelled to respond. Under no circumstances did I receive any money from AFSCME prior to posting the blog about union intimidation, nor did money have anything to do with it. It was about free elections, fundamental to our American way of life. I was told a union had intimidated one of its members and I posted on it. People are free to express their opinions and support whomever they choose. However, if their support is gained by intimidation, that crosses the line, in my opinion. We each should have the right to make our voting decisions without intimidation by anyone and cast that vote based on our personal belief about the individual candidates. Hopefully, no one disagrees with that. That the Las Vegas Sun chose to couch their attack on my credibility by accusing me of taking money in the form of a question shows how far they were willing to go to target me without any evidence whatsoever. It’s through that prism you should view their entire piece.

Second, the story on the worker intimidation at Paris was an important story. The woman to whom I spoke would not allow me to use her name and would not give anyone else’s name to me either. My post came out before the Sun’s piece, and since the woman would not give names when asked, I covered the story as given. Union intimidation is a serious charge. Whether someone is supporting Clinton or Obama does not change the facts. I believed the woman’s story after talking to her and decided to post on it. Period. I followed it up with an update of someone who saw the event, which was put in the comment section of the Sun’s article.

I did not call the Culinary union, because as is shown in the Sun piece, they’re not going to admit intimidation. Anyone who has ever covered issues like this or has any experience knows that unions answering questions on the record will never admit such coercion or intimidation.

I didn’t respond to the Sun’s request to talk because I simply didn’t get the email, which ended up in my junk mail folder. Simple as that, though I realize people want another explanation more involved, but hey, it’s the truth.

Obviously, Obama’s fans across the web are attacking the messenger, me. It’s been going on for a very long time. They need to attack my credibility because I’ve obviously hit a nerve. It’s also not the first time the Obama camp decided to target a progressive voice. They attacked Paul Krugman on a “fact check” page when Krugman dared to criticize Obama’s policies, never mind that Krugman is one of the only leading progressive voices in traditional journalism today. There were also rumblings that the Obama camp was readying an attack against one powerfully effective blogger during the Donnie McClurkin dust up. Chris Bowers wrote:

It is certainly disturbing that Obama is attacking a leading progressive voice in a media system where progressive opinion journalists are few are far between. What is even more disturbing is that this is not the first time the Obama campaign has considered doing this. Back during the Donnie McClurkin fiasco, it has been confirmed to me from multiple sources that the Obama campaign was preparing opposition research papers of this sort against some one of the progressive bloggers who were speaking ill of him at the time (Update: I have edited the previous sentence for the sake of clarity and accuracy. I know two separate things, and conflating them is a bit of speculation on my part. First, I know that about a year ago, someone was conducting oppo research on most major progressive bloggers, but I don’t know who. After I heard about oppo being prepared against one blogger a couple months ago, I speculated that meant the earlier oppo was conducted by the Obama campaign as well. That is purely speculation on my part. Take it for what it is worth).

The “speculation” Bowers is talking about is just that, but when you combine it with the continual attacks on me and others, it’s clear the truth isn’t the target, dissent is.

Today, the Las Vegas Sun took it a step further by impugning my credibility through question marks and by insinuating I not only might have taken money from a union that supports Clinton, but that if I did so I wouldn’t disclose it. And they did it without one single shred of evidence.

The message is simple from the Obama camp. They want to intimidate and silence me, because I’m effective. They are now willing, using Markos’s site and the diaries at DailyKos, to call me a liar. This is what Obama’s supporters do whenever anyone dares to print critical pieces on Obama’s record or stories they don’t like. Today, the Las Vegas Sun played along.

UPDATE: Rolling Stone found another incident the Las Vegas Sun ignored, as did Obama supporters who want to make this story about me, because the campaign has been caught doing just what’s been charged.

The first instance involves a food server at the Luxor who is also a shop steward for the Culinary Union and disagreed with the union’s Obama endorsement; she asked that her name not be used for fear of reprisal. The worker says she was told by the union that she would not be given time off to caucus if she did not pledge to vote for Obama. Ultimately, she complained to Luxor management and was assured she would be allowed to attend.

UPDATE 2: The double standard at progressive blogs backing Obama is clear, with DailyKos allowing defamatory diaries against pro-Clinton supporters to stand, while “editors” send warning notices when pro-Clinton bloggers post diaries challenging Obama.

UPDATE 3: An epilogue to this story is also available.

This post has been updated.