Did Democratic congressional candidate Gunn McKay have an inside track to get an article into the Wall Street Journal about Rep. Jim Hansen, R-Utah, missing a vote on the catastrophic health-care bill because he was giving a paid speech in Las Vegas?
Hansen campaign manager Peter Jenks suggested that McKay "must have known somebody at the Wall Street Journal" to get Hansen into a front-page article in Tuesday's editions about honorarium abuse. Hansen said the article follows McKay's record of media manipulation that he has even bragged about.The Hansen campaign produced a copy of a letter dated Oct. 9 that McKay sent to political-action committees soliciting funds. The letter says,"Because of my aggressive radio campaign and positive free media manipulation - I have gained in the polls."
Brooks Jackson, reporter who wrote the Wall Street Journal article, said, "The idea that I was manipulated was a total, absolute and deliberate falsehood."
Jackson said the issue is one his newspaper has been focusing on for several years. Tuesday's article focused on campaigns that had made it an issue. He said Hansen refused to talk to him about the honorarium issue while McKay did grant an interview.
Dave Dixon, McKay press aide, said, "That is a joke. We have no connections at the Wall Street Journal. In no way could we set that thing up. To think that Gunn McKay could get a front-page article is ludicrous."
Dixon said that Hansen should know better than to think McKay has the power to tell the press what to write. He said the Political Action Committee letter referred only to press coverage given to the campaign when the National Realtors Association paid $118,000 to air television ads supporting Hansen.
Hansen received $18,000 in honorariums in 1987. McKay said he received $4,000 during his 10 years in office.
Hansen said Wednesday he will continue to accept payments for speeches as long as they are legal.
McKay has begun airing a television commercial that echoes the previous radio ad attack on Hansen's Las Vegas speech. Another commercial has linked Hansen's "soft" voting record on defense fraud to honorariums he received for speaking to defense contractors.
Hansen said Wednesday that the McKay ads and the Wall Street Journal article do not tell the whole story about the Las Vegas speech. He said he spoke to a meeting of Utah constituents who had invited him to Las Vegas, which was on the way to his participating in a church blessing of his granddaughter in California.
"That was to Utah people who elected to hold a meeting in Las Vegas. I had been asked for five years to go to that. It's $500, a pretty small amount. I did it because the catastrophic health-care bill was overwhelmingly going to pass . . . and the real reason was my granddaughter was born in California and I was going to go down and participate in the blessing," Hansen said.
On another front, abortion may become an issue between the two candidates.
McKay responded Wednesday to the Hansen ad that says McKay, "a liberal from the past," voted for the 5.5 percent pay increase on Sept. 25, 1979. Quoting a front-page Washington Post article, the ad indicates that McKay was the deciding vote for the pay raise.
McKay said he voted for the raise because a controversial clause in the bill made it a "Catch-22" between a raise and federal funding for abortion. A "nay" vote would have translated into federal funding for abortion.
"The choice for Gunn was voting for abortion or the pay raise. There is no way he could vote for abortion," Dave Dixon, McKay press aide said.
Jenks said the opposite is true. McKay voted for both the abortion funding and a pay raise, he said.