Editorial board member Pia Lopez took a leave of absence earlier this year to help her husband, Jim Read, run for Congress in a Minnesota district where he teaches political science. The Sacramento Bee approved this leave to avoid any conflicts of interest between her role as journalist and her role as political spouse.
Since her return to The Bee, however, we learned that in some email conversations with Sacramento-area sources prior to her leave, Lopez discussed Reads campaign as she conducted editorial board business. Lopez used her board title and company email for other campaign-related communication as well. She also failed to notify her supervisor of potential conflicts of interest between topics addressed by the board and campaign donations and support in the Sacramento area.
These activities are incompatible with Lopezs role on the editorial board. We believe our board journalists must avoid even an appearance of a conflict of interest to protect our credibility and the public trust. Because of this, Lopez and The Bee have parted ways.
The Bee did not alter its editorial positions during this period. But appearances matter, as does any public perception that the favor of the editorial board depended on political contributions to Reads Minnesota race. It did not, and we apologize if anyone felt otherwise.
Cheryl Dell, Publisher and President
Joyce Terhaar, Executive Editor and Senior Vice President
Dan Morain, Editorial Page Editor