Another 'Name that Party' AP story

The Associated Press reported Wednesday that federal agents had raided a New York state senator's Bronx clinic.  However, the AP seemingly hid the accused lawmaker's party affiliation until the last sentence of the story's final paragraph when the writer, Jim Fitzgerald, allows that Pedro Espada was one of the leaders of a "Republican-backed coup" last summer which Espada claims is motivating Cuomo's lawsuit. The lawmaker later rejoined the Democrats where he received the title of majority leader.

Got that?  So the alleged criminal was a Republican until he converted to Democrat sometime between last summer and now?

But what about that confusing word "rejoined"?  It must mean that the lawmaker had been a Democrat at some unspecified time in the past, but the AP didn't elaborate.  And was Mr. Espada really a Republican leader, as the story suggests, or was he a Democrat that briefly joined a Republican-backed coup?

Nowhere in the story does the AP even call Mr. Espada a Democrat.  When the author eventually does fulfill his journalistic obligation to reveal the lawmaker's party affiliation in that final paragraph, he prominently displays the word "Republican" and uses a passive voice to reveal that the lawmaker rejoined the "Democrats".  Readers are left to interpret that as meaning the alleged crook currently is a Democrat.

According to the Senator's own website, presumably accessible by Associated Press writers too, Mr. Espada is a lifelong Democrat, and only sided with the opposition for 31 days last summer as a political maneuver:

Let me first make it clear that I remain a staunch, reform Democrat.  I have not switched parties

The maneuver seemingly worked.  On July 9, 2009, Mr. Espada agreed to end his public opposition to his fellow Democrats and immediately was rewarded by being elected Democrat Senate Majority Leader of the New York State Senate.

By obscuring Mr. Espada's party affiliation, did the AP violate its own rules?  Technically not, according to a related story at Newsbusters.

Under "party affiliation" the AP Stylebook states: "Let relevance be the guide in determining whether to include a political figure's party affiliation in
a story."

Still, the confusion just last summer would seem to make Mr. Espada's current party affiliation quite relevant to readers.  But according to my quick count, the AP disclosed it only in paragraph 27 of a 27-paragraph story.

Meanwhile, within hours of releasing its Espada story, the AP used the term "GOP" twice in the first two paragraphs of a story implying that Marco Rubio might have misused a credit card.  In that story, "GOP" or "Republican" was mentioned nine times in 12 paragraphs.

Perhaps the Associated Press should reveal the party affiliation of its journalists.  After all, that appears to be "relevant" to the stories they write.