Some Culpeper Star-Exponent carriers said Monday they were paid by Culpeper County Sheriff Scott Jenkins to deliver flyers supporting his reelection.
According to the carriers, Jenkins and some of his campaign supporters arrived at the Star-Exponent’s loading dock about 2:30 a.m. Monday and asked the circulation manager if a campaign flier could be delivered with newspapers that carriers were preparing to distribute.
The circulation manager, after consulting with his supervisor, denied Jenkins’ request, Star-Exponent Publisher Dale Lachniet said in a statement Monday afternoon.
Star-Exponent carriers are independent contractors and not employees of BH Media Group, which owns the Star-Exponent, Lachniet said. Without approval of the publisher, according to their contract, carriers are not permitted to distribute third-party materials, including political fliers, in the newspapers they deliver, Lachniet said.
After the circulation manager explained this to Jenkins and his companions, the manager believed they had left the premises, Lachniet said.
The Star-Exponent tried to reach Jenkins Monday afternoon at two cellphone numbers and his office. Soon thereafter, Bernie Feaganes of Jenkins’ campaign called the newspaper and said Jenkins was campaigning and not available to comment.
Feaganes, an officer with the sheriff’s office, confirmed that several Jenkins campaign workers and a Culpeper County Republican Committee representative visited the paper’s loading dock seeking to have the fliers delivered.
The flier included content similar to what Jenkins had proposed for a full-page advertisement in the Sunday Star-Exponent, but it was rejected because information in it could not be promptly verified Friday. A different version of the ad was published in the Sunday edition.
At least four carriers said Jenkins and his companions, after being turned away by their manager, later approached them as they arrived for work in an alley beside the Star-Exponent building, Lachniet said. The alley between West Spencer and West Edmondson Streets is Star-Exponent property.
Heather Jones, a carrier, said in an interview with the Star-Exponent Monday that Jenkins opened the door for her when she arrived at the newspaper office at about 4 a.m. to pick up her papers. She said she recognized him, and he was wearing black pants and a white button-up shirt with his name on it.
Although the carriers said Jenkins was not in uniform, he was recognizable, and was wearing a hat with the sheriff’s insignia, and he and his companions wore badges, two of the carriers told the Star-Exponent.
Jenkins and his companions asked the carriers to deliver the campaign fliers for about $1 per flier, they said.
At least four carriers agreed to deliver the fliers and were paid for doing so, they said. Some did deliver the fliers, and some did not, they said.
The Culpeper Star-Exponent does not publish on Mondays, but its carriers deliver a number of other newspapers, including The (Fredericksburg) Free Lance-Star and the Richmond Times-Dispatch, which are also owned by BH Media Group.
Some of the carriers contacted Jenkins’ opponent running for sheriff, Johnson, and told him of Jenkins’ actions, Johnson said in an interview Monday afternoon.
On Monday morning, in a post on his campaign’s Facebook page, Johnson described what the carriers had told him.
Reporters Clint Schemmer and Allison Brophy Champion contribued to this story.