SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson has been under the microscope recently as allegations of sexual misconduct over nearly two decades have resurfaced.
The push behind keeping the story alive has come from sports site Deadspin.com. Supporters of the mayor claim the site has a vendetta against him, something the site’s editor flatly refutes.
With the allegations resurfacing, ESPN announced it was pulling back its airing of a documentary about the drive to keep the Sacramento Kings in town. The local premiere of the “Down In The Valley” went on as planned on Monday as Johnson faced tough questions on the purple carpet.
Deadspin focuses on sports and pop culture, and has published at least 12 separate articles on Johnson, stretching from his alleged coup of the National Conference Of Black Mayors, to accusations of misuse of public money, to prior allegations of sexual misconduct.
Johnson played 12 seasons in the NBA, mostly with the Phoenix Suns, and was elected as Sacramento’s mayor in 2008.
Johnson advisor Steve Maviglio believes it’s been a personal vendetta.
“It’s hard to say otherwise when you’re looking at something like 15 articles on the mayor and almost the same number on the mayor’s wife before this all happened,” he said. “You have to ask yourself why have they put so much energy and zest that’s so old and have been proven untrue.”
“Why is the question our motivation?” Deadspin editor Tim Marchman. “Our motivation to cover Kevin Johnson excessively is the Sacramento press has done a f—— embarrassing job of it. He is corrupt. He is out there doing god knows what with public money.”
No criminal charges have been filed against Johnson.
“You don’t need criminal charges to write about what’s happening,” Marchman said.
We asked Maviglio about the reported $230,000 confidential settlement paid by the mayor and how that could be perceived.
“People try to settle things because they don’t want things drawn out over long periods of time,” he said. “They don’t want things hashed out in public they want to settle things and move on with their lives.”
We asked Marchman if the site had paid for the publication of a recent recording of a 1996 interview with Johnson’s then 16-year-old accuser.
“It’s none of your business, but as a matter of fact, we didn’t,” he said. “We don’t pay for interviews, we pay for documents. We didn’t pay for the recording either.”
Why won’t Johnson just come out and answer everything that’s on the table, rather than saying it’s been asked and answered already?
“Because this has been very troubling for the mayor—it’s a cloud that’s been hanging over his head,” Maviglio said. “He spent the last 20 years saying, ‘Look what law enforcement found out; there’s nothing here.’”
In the end, Marchman says the site’s coverage isn’t a personal vendetta, though he did have this to say about Johnson.
“I think he’s a slimy, oily piece of s—, and I think that shows how he comports himself in a minor way,” he said, “and there are much more extensive examples in our reporting. And the way he comports himself is central to the lives of people in Sacramento and elsewhere in California and the United States.”
When asked whether his publication had reported so much on one figure, Marchman said outside of disgraced FIFA President Sepp Blatter, no.