The L.A. Times has a story Saturday about three more women who allege that gubernatorial front-runner Arnold Schwarzenegger engaged in sexual misconduct over the years. Schwarzenegger, on his bus tour north of Fresno, said charges in the story “are absolutely untrue.”

The Times maintains that none of the women came forward at the behest of Schwarzenegger’s opponents. That claim, however, is looking increasingly dubious. One of the three women in the story says she came forward at the urging of Jodie Evans, described by the Times as a peace activist and “co-founder of the women’s peace group Code Pink.” At best, this is an incomplete, misleading description.

Here’s what the newspaper should have said about Evans. She is actually a former close colleague of Gov. Gray Davis, a longtime Democratic operative and a friend of noted Democratic hit man Bob Mulholland. Evans is also the ex-wife of Westside financier Max Palevsky, the man who gave Gray Davis his first job in politics as the fund-raiser in Tom Bradley’s 1973 mayoral campaign.

Oops! Someone should have told John Carroll, the Times editor and anti-bias crusader.

Evans worked closely with Davis in the administration of Gov. Jerry Brown. While Davis served as Brown’s chief of staff, Evans was Brown’s chief fund-raiser and director of administration in the governor’s office.

Why didn’t the Times give an accurate description of Evans, who has pushed at least one woman to come forward with last-minute charges? On the campaign bus outside Fresno just now, I asked veteran Times columnist George Skelton, who acknowledges the reality of Evans’ deep ties to Davis and the Democrats, why the Times described her so disingenuously.

“Maybe the reporters and editors just didn’t know,” he says.

The Times is presenting itself authoritatively on these matters. If the Times doesn’t know where the stories are coming from, what else does it not know? If the Times is not ignorant about these connections, that is a whole different kettle of fish.

As most Californians know by now, Davis is the champion of negative campaigning and has nearly perfected the strategy of last-minute allegations breaking in the final days of the campaign. It should not be surprising to Times Mirror Square that his fingerprints appear on at least the latest story.

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