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