On June 15, written by Itoro Umontuen, The Atlanta Voice published a misleading, false and biased news story titled, “DeKalb County Commissioners’ race possibly marred by alleged ethics violations.” The intent of this untrue, slanderous story published by Umontuen was to smear my campaign, spread a lie, and “swing the outcome of the (DeKalb County Commission District 2) race.”
Fortunately, Umontuen did state this correctly – I, Michelle Long Spears, Candidate for DeKalb County Commission District 2, “entered the runoff after winning 43% of the vote in the May 24th primary election.” I was the candidate who appeared to get almost zero votes on Election Day but was actually in first place. I fought for my name on the ballot, as the current leader in this race and a fierce advocate for voting integrity, after my campaign uncovered technical programming errors with the voting machines at majority of the voting precincts in District 2.
Today, I spoke with publisher and editor, Janis L. Ware, who stated that she had no previous knowledge of the published story. I asked for the Atlanta Voice to retract and remove the story immediately. Ms. Ware honored this request and the story is no longer on their website. Thank you to The Atlanta Voice for following through on your commitment. But the damage was still done – and news aggregators spread the false story.
Among the falsehoods:
Mr. Umontuen stated on our call today (with Ms. Ware) that he did not contact Commissioner Lorraine Cochran-Johnson. Cochran-Johnson formally endorsed me through the Primary, giving my campaign permission to include her on our campaign materials. She then chose to endorse no one in the runoff, stating through text on Friday, June 10, that “she did not wish to make a formal statement or endorsement in the runoff.” I quickly responded to her change of position by removing her from our website and runoff mailer that was scheduled to print that day. Unfortunately, though, one previously scheduled robocall, which was recorded on June 6, accidentally retained her endorsement after her position change. Our campaign team made a mistake and I was misinformed that we didn’t catch it, resulting in my erroneous statement to her.
Commissioner Ted Terry is not running my campaign but is a strong supporter. I am leading my campaign, with the assistance of paid campaign professionals that do not include Commissioner Terry.
Mr. Umontuen stated on our call today that he made no attempts to contact me, despite his story clearly stating that “Spears has not responded to requests for comment” – which was untrue. I did not speak to anyone from the Atlanta Voice. I did not receive an email or a voicemail from him or anyone else from The Atlanta Voice. He falsely asserted that he made multiple 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 consulting practice, NP Voice is an LLC – not a nonprofit.
The article failed to conform to basic journalistic standards and lacks integrity. His allegations were second and/or third-hand from biased sources affiliated with opposing campaigns. On our call today, I asked him to identify his sources but he did not respond and failed to identify those sources without any justification – and then treated these allegations as fact without any fact-checking.
The story also failed to mention that it was actually Marshall Orson, a current member of the DeKalb County Board of Education, who falsely claimed Commissioner Cochran-Johnson’s endorsement. Cochran-Johnson stated that “Marshall never asked me for my endorsement.”
Thank you for publishing this account of the facts and setting the record straight. I look forward to cultivating a long-term relationship with The Atlanta Voice, a respected media institution in Metro Atlanta.