GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. " In five days, Collbran Republican Laura Bradford accumulated $7,000 in campaign donations to film and air a commercial responding to 527 ads attacking her on health care and water issues.
The House District 55 candidate's response ad will never air in its original form because of alleged copyright infringement.
Bradford's commercial, partly funded through donations from the state and local
Republican organizations, originally used a picture of her opponent, Rep. Bernie Buescher, D-Grand Junction, and Gov. Bill Ritter. Or at least it did, until Grand Junction Daily Sentinel reporter Mike Saccone received an e-mail containing the ad late Wednesday afternoon at Bradford's request.
"All I know is when I saw a copy of the ad I immediately knew that photo was mine," Saccone said. Saccone took the photo in January and posted it to his Political Notebook blog on gjsentinel.com.
While using one-line quotes without permission is standard practice in political ads, using a newspaper's photo or an article in its entirety "is not common," said Colorado Press Association Executive Director Ed Otte. Bradford's camp used a Free Press article in its entirety without permission on a campaign flier earlier this fall.
"If they're going to list that much, they should have asked out of courtesy to reprint it," Otte said.
The Sentinel has a policy forbidding any political campaign from using its photos in order to avoid perceived bias from the paper, Saccone said. He e-mailed Bradford, who said she did not see the e-mail until morning.
Later that evening, Sentinel Managing Editor Laurena Davis called local television stations to tell them the ad contained one of their photographs and that the candidate had not asked permission to use it.
"I just said that's our photo and we don't allow our photos to be used by candidates during elections," Davis said.
KREX, KJCT and KKCO held off on airing the ad. All three of the stations plan to air the photo-free version of the ad.
Davis also called the company that made the ad, Comcast Spotlight Production. Judy Ritchey, an account executive with Comcast, explained the photograph was selected and given to Comcast by Bradford's campaign media buyer, Bryce Byers. Bradford described Byers as "an intern that was assigned to me by the party."
Ritchey called Byers, who said he could not remember which Web site he took the picture from and said it was a mistake that a Sentinel photo was used. Byers did not return a phone call request for comment Thursday afternoon.
"If anything happened regarding that photo, it certainly wasn't intentional," Ritchey said.
Ritchey switched out the ad for the new version Wednesday night before it could air on CNN and Fox.
Buescher said everyone who appears in one of his ads signs a waiver and he's careful to use his own video footage and pictures.
"This is pretty fundamental stuff," he said. "There's a proper way to do those things, and it's with proper attribution."
Reach Emily Anderson at firstname.lastname@example.org.