On June 15, written by Itoro Umontuen, The Voice of Atlanta published a misleading, false and biased report titled, “DeKalb County commissioners’ race possibly marred by alleged ethics violations.” The intent of this false and slanderous story published by Umontuen was to smear my campaign, spread a lie and “rock the bottom line of the race (DeKalb County Commission District 2)”.
Fortunately, Umontuen said it correctly – I, Michelle Long Spears, candidate for DeKalb County Commission’s District 2, “participated in the second round after winning 43% of the vote in the May 24 primary election. “. I was the candidate who seemed to get almost no votes on Election Day, but was actually in first place. I fought for my name on the ballot, as the current leader of this race and a strong advocate for the integrity of the vote, after my campaign discovered technical programming errors with the voting machines in the majority electoral districts of district 2.
Today I spoke with the editor and publisher, Janis L. Ware, who said she had no prior knowledge of the published story. I asked the Voice of Atlanta to recant and delete the story immediately. Ms. Ware honored that request and the story is no longer on their website. Thanks for The Voice of Atlanta for honoring your commitment. But the damage was still done – and news aggregators spread the false story.
Among the lies:
Mr Umontuen said on our call today (with Ms Ware) that he had not contacted Commissioner Lorraine Cochran-Johnson. Cochran-Johnson officially supported me through Primary, giving my campaign permission to include it in our campaign materials. She then chose not to endorse anyone in the second round, saying via text message Friday, June 10 that “she did not wish to make any official statement or endorsement in the second round.” I quickly responded to her change of position by removing her from our website and from the trickle mail that was due to be printed that day. Unfortunately, however, a previously scheduled robocall, which was recorded on June 6, accidentally withheld his approval after his job change. Our campaign team made a mistake and I was misinformed that we didn’t understand him, which led me to give him an erroneous statement.
Commissioner Ted Terry does not run my campaign, but he is a strong supporter. I run my campaign, with the help of paid campaign professionals who do not include Commissioner Terry.
Mr. Umontuen said on our call today that he made no attempt to contact me, despite his story clearly stating that “Spears did not respond to requests for comment” – which was untrue. I haven’t spoken to anyone from Atlanta Voice. I haven’t received an email or voicemail from him or anyone else from The Voice of Atlanta. He falsely claimed that he made several attempts to reach me before publishing the story.
There is no part of Chamblee or Tucker or East Atlanta in District 2.
My social impact consultancy, NP Voice, is an LLC – not a nonprofit.
The article did not meet basic journalistic standards and lacked integrity. His allegations were second and/or third hand from biased sources affiliated with opposing campaigns. During our call today, I asked him to identify his sources, but he did not answer and did not identify these sources without any justification – and then treated these allegations as facts without any verification of the facts.
The story also failed to mention that it was actually Marshall Orson, a current member of the DeKalb County School Board, who falsely claimed Commissioner Cochran-Johnson’s endorsement. Cochran-Johnson said “Marshall never asked for my approval.”
Thank you for publishing this account of events and setting the record straight. I look forward to cultivating a long term relationship with The Voice of Atlantaa respected media institution in the Atlanta metro area.