Several opponents of San Luis Obispo County Sheriff Ian Parkinson’s reelection bid are criticizing county officials for spending money on hiring a public relations firm to direct crisis communications in the aftermath of the release of the video showing Andrew Holland’s jailhouse death.
Critics, including the Holland family, are alleging the money spent on crisis management amounts to taxpayers aiding Parkinson’s reelection campaign. However, an executive with the public relations firm says the company was not hired to do anything political.
Recently, SLO County Chief Administrative Officer Wade Horton disclosed to the board of supervisors that the county spent $21,625 on public relations consulting to handle the fallout from the release of the Holland video. The county hired AMF Media Group to advise them on how to “quickly, efficiently and clearly” address the situation surrounding the video release, Horton stated in an email to the board of supervisors.
AMF Media Group is a San Ramon-based public relations firm with an office in San Luis Obispo. The company recently acquired longtime San Luis Obispo public relations firm Barnett Cox & Associates.
Dave Cox, now vice president of operations for AMF Media Group, told Cal Coast Times his firm was hired in March after the jailhouse death video went viral and the story became national news.
“We were hired to get the facts out, to put out a list of changes the county had made,” Cox said.
Cox added that AMF Media Group was not told to do anything to support Parkinson or District Attorney Dan Dow.
However, Supervisor Adam Hill responded to the county’s disclosure about hiring the public relations firm by lashing out at Horton.
“This is very disappointing to find out, Wade. And to find out in this manner is even more disappointing,” Hill said in an email to Horton. “While you may not have to check with the board on such matters, let me tell you right now, I find this and other attempts to ‘handle’ this tragic issue to be distasteful, counter-productive and biased.”
Hill is currently aligned politically with the Holland family, which is financially backing Parkinson’s opponent, as well as challengers to Dow and County Supervisor Lynn Compton in the current electoral races.