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Union's backer for KR opposes open records

Billionaire supermarket owner Ron Burkle (pictured), who has agreed to finance a union bid for nine Knight Ridder newspapers, wants to prevent the public and press from seeing certain records in California divorce cases.

In his own messy divorce, Burkle’s lawyers convinced a judge to seal court records that describe his financial holdings. An appeals court overturned the ruling. Now, State Sen. Kevin Murray, D-Culver City, is quietly trying to rush a bill through the legislature that would seal financial information in all divorce cases, including Burkle’s, according to a report today (Feb. 24) in the San Diego Union-Tribune by writer Bill Ainsworth.

Burkle’s dissatisfaction with the media goes beyond his desire to seal court records. The San Diego paper reports that last year Burkle had his employees buy stacks of copies of the Los Angeles Business Journal to keep people from reading an article about his divorce. His spokesman said he was trying to protect his child.

On Feb. 16, Newspaper Guild President Linda Foley announced that Burkle’s investment banking company, Yucaipa Companies, would help the union bid for nine unionized Knight Ridder papers including the San Jose Mercury News and the Monterey County Hearld. (The Contra Costa Times and Palo Alto Daily News Group are non-union KR papers.)

Burkle, a close friend of former President Clinton, owns grocery chains including Ralph’s and Food4Less.

[Read the California Newspaper Publishers Association Legislative Bulletin warning about Burkle’s attempts to seal court records]

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