Columnist McManus Says Federal Funds Didn't Go to Him Personally

By: Dave Astor Michael McManus said "there is no connection between my column and the federal funds awarded Marriage Savers."

McManus self-syndicates the "Ethics & Religion" column to about 35 newspapers and also serves as president and co-chair of the Marriage Savers organization. USA Today and reported last week that the Department of Health and Human Services paid McManus, through a subcontractor, to help Bush administration efforts to promote marriage. This revelation came after columnists Armstrong Williams and Maggie Gallagher were also found to have received federal money.

In a statement e-mailed to E&P and other media outlets this weekend, McManus said HHS paid Marriage Savers nearly $10,200 "for making six presentations (including travel expenses). We were also awarded a federal grant of $48,993 (via a competitive-bidding process) in a 'capacity-expanding grant' to adapt our materials to serve unwed couple having babies out of wedlock. These funds came to Marriage Savers, not to me personally. They are only 2.7% of the $2.1 million we have raised, mostly from churches, foundations, and individuals." McManus also offered statistics saying that many marriages have been saved by the organization's work.

McManus did not return two E&P phone calls.

The Poynter Institute's Kelly McBride told USA Today that any journalist should at least disclose such payments to readers. "Any time anyone gives you money, you have loyalty to them, and that's a conflict," she said.


No comments on this item Please log in to comment by clicking here