Lee Papers Won’t Comment On Secret Recording

By: Chris Nammour

Updated at 12:42 p.m. EST

The Iowa papers of Lee Enterprises Inc. are withholding comment on their decision to print portions of a transcript of a secretly recorded meeting of supporters for Republican Congressman Greg Ganske.

Ganske, who is in a race for the U.S Senate in Iowa with incumbent Democrat Tom Harkin, was quoted verbatim in a column by Lee Enterprises Des Moines Bureau Chief Kathie Obradovich. “It will be mind-blowing,” Ganske is quoted as saying at the meeting in Obradovich’s column. “You’ve never seen a campaign where anyone will attack him like we’re going to — with a smile on our face.”

The column ran Sept. 23 in several Lee Enterprises publications, including the Quad-City Times in Davenport and the Mason City Globe-Gazette. In it, Obradovich said she received a copy of the recording from “Democratic sources on the condition that they not be identified”. She has also declined to comment on her use of the unnamed source.

“I’m not authorized to give interviews,” she said when questioned by E&P. Gary Metro, editor of the Globe-Gazette, said he would have to check with Lee headquarters before comment and as of Friday had not returned phone calls.

Republicans charge that the meeting was taped illegally, and are calling for a criminal investigation. Harkin’s staff has issued an apology for releasing the information to Obradovich, though they insist no one on their staff was present at the closed-door Republican meeting. Meanwhile a Des Moines attorney has stepped forward to say his client, a still unidentified contributor to Ganske’s campaign, was responsible for handing a transcript of the meeting to Harkin supporters.

Obradovich had been asked for a copy of the recording by police, but continues to cover the story for Lee. A story by her appeared on Friday in both the Globe-Gazette and Quad-City Times. It states that police are investigating claims that Brian Conley, a Des Moines Democrat, was responsible for the tape. Conley has refused to comment unless promised immunity.

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