A Washington anti-tax group used a Durango Herald photo without permission in an attack ad on congressional candidate Sal Pace, apparently in violation of the newspapers copyright.
Americans for Tax Reform, led by nationally known lobbyist Grover Norquist, used a Herald photo of Pace published Sept. 14 in the ad it is running against the Pueblo Democrat, who is challenging incumbent Rep. Scott Tipton, R-Cortez.
Tiptons campaign had nothing to do with the ad, which is an independent expenditure allowed by federal campaign-finance law.
Americans for Tax Reform sought permission from the Herald to use the photo in a political ad, but multimedia director Josh Stephenson turned down the request.
Stephenson took a call from a representative of the group who wanted to buy rights to the photo for use in a flier. Stepenson told the person that the Herald does not license its content for use in political campaigns, and the caller said goodbye and hung up.
Americans for Tax Reform then used the picture without permission.
The spokesman for Americans for Tax Reform did not return an email Tuesday from the Herald.
The anti-tax group produced three additional ads that are identical in content and target other Democrats Mark Critz of Pennsylvania, John Barrow of Georgia and Scott Peters of California. Each of those ads also used photos from media organizations the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, the Savannah Morning News and the North County Times.
Tim McNulty, a reporter for the Post-Gazette who wrote the story that accompanied the photo, said his editor does not know about any permission being granted to use the photo, and the paper would refer the matter to its lawyer. Photographers at the other two papers did not return emails Tuesday afternoon.
Americans for Tax Reform is spending $1.3 million to air the Sal Pace ad, according to a news release from the group. Filings with the Federal Election Commission show the group has spent about half the promised sum so far.