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Michael McManus, Maggie Gallagher, Armstrong Williams: Are There More?
The National Ledger
January 28, 2005

And then there were three.  On the heels of the Armstrong Williams' debacle and Maggie Gallagher's failure to disclose her payments from the Bush administration comes yet another conservative columnist that has received money from the government.  Michael McManus is a "marriage expert" who has a syndicated column titled "Ethics and Religion" and he reportedly took approximately $10,000 for his work as a subcontractor to the Lewin Group, which was then hired by Health and Human Services.

In other words, Michael McManus took ten grand from Health and Human Services.

This revelation was uncovered by Salon and they report that the Lewin Group was hired to "implement the Community Healthy Marriage Initiative, which encourages communities to combat divorce through education and counseling."  Salon interviews Dr. Wade Horn who is an assistant secretary for children and families at HHS.  Horn is very forthcoming in the article and says he has known McManus for years, and learned about the payment on Thursday.

Continuing from Salon:

In the wake of the Gallagher story, [Horn] asked his staff to review all outside contracts and determine if there were any other columnists being paid by HHS. They informed him about McManus. Horn says the review for similar contracts continues.   Horn insists that HHS was not paying Gallagher and McManus to write about Bush administration initiatives but for their expertise as marriage advocates. "We live in a complicated world and people wear many different hats," he says. "People who have expertise might also be writing columns. The line has become increasingly blurred between who's a member of the media and who is not. Thirty years ago if you were a columnist, then you were a full-time employee of a newspaper. Columnists today are different."

Okay, all that is true.  But these types of relationships where pundits wear "different hats" needs to be disclosed.  Whether a pundit runs a business that is paid with government money, is some type of contractor, advisor, or consultant, if the money comes from the government it needs to be disclosed.  This isn't brain surgery, McManus (and Gallagher for that matter) only needed to acknowledge the payments.

Michelle Malkin seems to have a handle on it:

Triple-crikey. I wonder if McManus will say he "forgot about the $10,000 payment, too. That line seems to be working pretty well now among some of my fellow conservatives. I'll have more to say about all this in the morning, but for now, let me just say that if I accepted $10,000 or $20,000 or $40,000 in taxpayer funds for my writing, I wouldn't forget it in one year or 5 years or 10 years. And I'd make damn sure I disclosed it in relevant columns, books, or media appearances, even if it invited condescension from the "don't be such a holier-than-thou-goody-two-shoes-must-you-disclose-everything?" crowd.

Goody-two-shoes?  I've yet to get that in my angry mail from my fellow conservatives.  But look--there is no way to defend this.

And after Armstrong Williams, Maggie Gallagher and now Michael McManus, the question is---are there more?  At this point I'm guessing yes.  It will probably get even more embarrassing and it could have all been avoided with disclosure.  Relevant relationships with government offices and even politicians need to be noted.

It's better for everyone, and protects the pundit from embarrassing, and for some, career ending mistakes.

Commentary:
Let's see. These so called moralists were talking about family values while they were breaking our laws and not disclosing they worked for the Bush White House. What more needs to be said?