The Press Democrat on Thursday reported that the paper is being purchased by the same investment group that owns Sonoma Index-Tribune.
The partnership, Sonoma Media Investments, includes major political influencers Doug Bosco, a former congressman, and his former intern, Darius Anderson, a Sonoma-based developer, Sacramento lobbyist and Democratic Party fundraiser, with ties to the Graton Rancheria casino.
Anderson is the founder of Platinum Advisors, which has been consultant to Station Casinos, the Las Vegas gambling company that is the proponent of the casino. Platinum is one of the biggest lobbying firms in Sacramento, claiming clients such as PG&E and AT&T, according to the Press Democrat.
The newspaper and the Sacramento Bee reported in 2010 that Platinum had agreed to settle a corruption probe by the New York Attorney General for $500,000, over allegations of payments to state officials to win public pension investments. Platinum settled without admitting or denying any wrongdoing, the Bee reported.
Other Sonoma Media partners involved in the Press Democrat purchase include Steven Falk, former publisher of the San Francisco Chronicle, and Bill Hooper, president of Anderson's Kenwood Investments, who is also a former executive of Clear Channel Outdoor, a billboard advertising company, according to the Press Democrat.
These investors will also take ownership of Petaluma Argus-Courier, North Bay Business Journal and associated websites as part of the deal, the newspaper reported.
The Press Democrat was previously owned by Halifax Media Acquisitions, a Florida company.
Anderson is the proponent of a $30 million hotel and spa complex—Chateau Sonoma—on land behind Sonoma Index-Tribune. He and his wife, Sarah, own an antique store with the same name, as well as Ramekin Culinary Institute in Sonoma.
According to the Press Democrat, their unionized newsroom staff issued a statement saying that local ownership "offers the best chance to achieve what we all want, and that is for The Press Democrat to continue to be the North Bay's premier source for quality local journalism."
On the other hand, Gabe Meline of North Bay Bohemian had this to say on Thursday: "I think local ownership of the daily paper of record is a good thing. But in his role as a self-styled political kingmaker, it's hard to imagine Bosco keeping his business interests away from the newsroom he now owns. You don't buy a newspaper in 2012 to get rich. You buy a newspaper in 2012 to gain influence. Remember that when you read the Press Democrat from now on."
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