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#ShowUsYourMailers: What Is The Independent Voter Project?

Photo caption: A mailer sent out by the Independent Voter Project on Oct. 3, 2016.

Photo by Claire Trageser

A mailer sent out by the Independent Voter Project on Oct. 3, 2016.

The top of the mailer describes the network as "a nonprofit open platform for nonpartisan journalists," but that's not exactly true.

San Diegans may have received a four-page mailer from the Independent Voter Network, or IVN.US NEWS, that is somewhat misleading.

The top of the mailer describes the network as "a nonprofit open platform for nonpartisan journalists," and then goes on to explain several San Diego ballot measures.

The mailer says it was sent by the Independent Voter Project, not the Independent Voter Network news platform. Independent Voter Project board member Jeff Marston described the relationship between the groups on a recent podcast by Voice of San Diego.

"The Independent Voter Network is the news platform that the Independent Voter Project puts forward," he said.

The news site "is part of (Independent Voter Project), but it's got its own editorial group and what have you," he said later.

But the Independent Voter Network news platform is funded by the Independent Voter Project, he said.

All of this matters because the Independent Voter Project is the group that originally proposed Measure K, San Diego's ballot measure to change June primaries so that candidates can't win outright before the general election in November.

The mailer looks to be an impartial news source, but it's actually funded by the very group that proposed one of the ballot measures inside.

Voice of San Diego detailed the mailer's funding in a recent story:

"The Independent Voter Project is a nonprofit, 501(c)4 organization. The mailer was also published by another nonprofit group, Foundation for Independent Voter Education. That group, FIVE, also publishes the website Independent Voter Network. All three organizations are cited on the mailer."

Steve Peace, one of the co-chairs of the Independent Voter Project, said he sees no discrepancy in the mailer presenting itself as an impartial news source. He said Independent Voter Network has multiple donors and is "no different from KPBS and any other news organization."

No donors are listed on the Independent Voter Network website, and the most recent financial form for the nonprofit that publishes it also does not list donors by name.

The mailer also listed no opposition committee for Measure K, the ballot measure the group proposed. That's not accurate. There is the the committee Citizens for Fair & Honest Elections-No on Measure K.

Peace said at the time the mailer was printed — Oct. 3, 2016, according to the top of the mailer — no committee was filed.

That's not true. The committee Citizens for Fair & Honest Elections-No on Measure K was formed on Aug. 31, 2016.

The Independent Voter Network's online voter guide includes the correction, "You may have received a printed newsletter from IVN. Since this was printed the California Secretary of State has posted an opposition committee on their website."

Photo caption: A mailer sent out by the Independent Voter Project on Oct. 3, 2016.

Photo by Claire Trageser

A mailer sent out by the Independent Voter Project on Oct. 3, 2016.

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