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Democrat files complaint against talk radio host linked to Senate candidate Sullivan

Lisa Demer

KFQD Talk radio host Dave Stieren played a lampoon of the Federal Communications Commission on Thursday as he addressed a complaint that he improperly provided a friendly platform for Republican U.S. Senate candidate Dan Sullivan after getting paid for "media training" and coaching.

Rod McCoy, a retired teacher and registered Democrat, filed an FCC complaint Wednesday against Stieren, asserting he improperly provided "favorable coverage for a candidacy that continues to lack local support."

Sullivan was a guest on Stieren's show at least six times in eight months, starting in October and as recently as May 1, the complaint said, providing what McCoy called "dates of bias" for each appearance or call in. One of the other main GOP candidates, Lt. Gov. Mead Treadwell, hasn't been on the show at all since the campaign began. The other, tea party favorite Joe Miller, has been scheduled or called in a few times, the station said.

Stieren's promotion of Sullivan's candidacy doesn't violate broadcast rules or station policy, even considering the contract for media work, said KFQD program director Joe Campbell. An FCC spokesman in Washington, D.C., said he needed to examine the complaint before commenting.

"It's an entertainment show," Campbell said. "It shouldn't raise an eyebrow that Sullivan is the guy he wants to go with."

Back in 1987 during the Reagan administration, the FCC eliminated a policy known as the Fairness Doctrine that required broadcasters to give fair treatment to both sides of controversies, Campbell said.

Stieren did let the station know about the work, and Sullivan's campaign revealed it on required public campaign disclosure report earlier this year, Campbell noted.

The show airs weekday afternoons on KFQD AM 750. On Thursday, Stieren opened with an especially raunchy song from the "Family Guy" show that poked fun at the FCC over restrictions related to sex and bodily functions.

Then Stieren came on: "I'm guilty of failing to flush twice." He said he would "over-report" political work from now on.

Stieren said he welcomes all candidates to be on the show.

McCoy still contends Stieren was being paid to promote Sullivan -- and never told listeners. Stieren failed to disclose on the air that PS Strategies -- a political consulting business in which he's a partner -- was paid nearly $7,000 by the Sullivan campaign, the complaint said.

"A person shouldn't be able to buy air time that isn't for sale," he said.

The contract included $4,627 for media training and $2,000 for coaching and research, according to Sullivan's campaign disclosure. Mary Ann Pruitt, whose husband is House Majority Leader Lance Pruitt, owns 51 percent of PS Strategies and he owns the rest, according to a state corporation report.

On his show, Stieren said he approached Treadwell during a meeting at the Dark Horse Coffee Co. for political work and never heard back.

Stieren didn't answer emailed questions from the Daily News about the contract with Sullivan but told political blogger Amanda Coyne that the work began in February and lasted about five weeks. Campbell said he understood it was basic guidance about things like tie color and how to look people in the eye.

Sullivan's campaign didn't address the complaint but noted that he is significantly ahead of other Republican candidates in a new Public Policy Polling voter poll.

Reach Lisa Demer at ldemer@adn.com or 257-4390.


By LISA DEMER
ldemer@adn.com