Following up on our coverage of the Seattle Times Co.'s $75,000 independent expenditure ad for Republican gubernatorial candidate Rob McKenna, we asked company spokeswoman Jill Mackie elaborate on how the expenditure was being funded, and how it was different from their ad for R-74, the gay-marriage campaign, to which the Times has also said it plans to contribute free ad space. 

Mackie's response to the first question: 

"There was no 'paying for' [the ad]. We (The Seattle Times Company) are contributing space at our cost, but reporting it at the fair market value for each of the two efforts. There is absolutely zero involvement in the decision or the execution of any part of this effort by our news or editorial folks."

And to the second: 

"The primary difference between the two approaches is that because there are no limits to the amount that can be contributed to a ballot measure, we can donate space to the R74 campaign directly. Candidate races however do have limits on what can be contributed. Because our goal is to run enough of an advertising campaign to be noticeable and effective (i.e., not one ad but a series of ads for each), the value [of the McKenna ad] exceeds what can be directly contributed to the candidate race.

Given that the Times has said its only goal in running the ads was to demonstrate that political ads in newspapers can be effective, wouldn't it have made more sense to run ads for both McKenna and Inslee?

"As a result, we are conducting that part of the effort as an independent expenditure in support of McKenna’s gubernatorial race. An independent expenditure does not have the same limits as donating to a candidate’s campaign, which allows us to contribute equal value to each of the two campaigns – R74 and the McKenna race."

We have a follow-up out to Mackie: Given all the pushback the paper has gotten for publishing a free ad for a partisan candidate who was endorsed by the editorial side of the paper, and given that the Times has said its only goal in running the ads was to demonstrate that political ads in newspapers can be effective, wouldn't it have made more sense to run ads for both McKenna and Inslee? 

Although the Times Co. has sponsored political ads opposing I-200, the anti-affirmative action bill, and donated space to ads opposing the estate tax, this is the first time it has directly donated space on its pages to a partisan political campaign.