[UPDATED] Sacramento Bee editorial writer Pia Lopez departs over alleged conflicts

Sacramento Bee editorial writer Pia Lopez took a leave from the McClatchy-owned paper earlier this year after husband Jim Read announced he was trying to take Michele Bachmann’s seat in Minnesota’s 6th Congressional District. He suspended his campaign in early May and Lopez went back to work.

Bee readers are told today:

Pia Lopez

Pia Lopez

Since her return to The Bee, however, we learned that in some email conversations with Sacramento-area sources prior to her leave, Lopez discussed Read’s campaign as she conducted editorial board business. Lopez used her board title and company email for other campaign-related communication as well. She also failed to notify her supervisor of potential conflicts of interest between topics addressed by the board and campaign donations and support in the Sacramento area. …

Because of this, Lopez and The Bee have parted ways.

I’ve invited Lopez to comment.

Update: A tipster suggested I ask about Pulitzer-winning reporter Tom Knudson leaving the Bee, so I did.

Tom Knudson

Tom Knudson

Knudson tells Romenesko readers: “After more than two decades of in-depth, prize-winning reporting from the field, they wanted me to return to the newsroom to focus more narrowly on environmental news in and around Sacramento – and generate a lot more of it. I declined.”

He adds: “I was the last bureau person standing for the Sac Bee (based in the Tahoe region). Over the years, my work had brought numerous accolades to the paper,” including a Pulitzer Prize for Public Service in 1992, and most recently, a 2013 Knight-Risser Prize for Western Environmental Journalism.

What’s next for the 61-year-old newsman? “Not sure yet … maybe journalism, maybe something else.”

* To our readers: Editorial writer Pia Lopez has left the paper (sacbee.com)