Politics & Policy



An NRO piece by Stephen Spruiell on July 15 makes several misstatements and misrepresentations about an article published in The Washington Post on July 12 regarding a grand-jury probe of several political-action committees in Texas. The piece suggests a link between the Post’s article and a complaint filed by Rep. Chris Bell. Your readers should be aware that no mention was made in the Post article of Bell’s complaint, and none of the information in the Post article was drawn from Bell’s complaint.

The editorial further states that the Post used numbers selectively in a description of funds sent from Texas to Washington and from Washington to Texas. It fails to cite any errors in the Post’s depiction, because there were none. He also claimed–inaccurately–that the “best defense they [the Post] provide” is a quote from a lawyer who “made it sound like [the political action committee’s] only excuse was that everyone was laundering money.” He goes on to state that, “in fact,” a lawyer advising the Republican National Committee said the transaction was legal.

Mr. Spruiell chose to conceal from your readers that the quote in question was from the lawyer who represents James Ellis, who signed the check transmitting funds from Texas to Washington, and that this man was also quoted by the Post describing the transaction as legal. He also chose to conceal from your readers the fact that the Post article quoted a Republican National Committee spokeswoman, Christine Iverson, describing the transactions as legal and carefully explaining that they came from separate accounts. He further chose to conceal from your readers that the Post also quoted a lawyer for the political action committee involved in the funds transfer describing the transaction as legal.

In short, Mr. Spruiell deliberately chose to distort what the Washington Post reported. One can only wonder what his motives were.

R. Jeffrey Smith

National Staff Correspondent

The Washington Post

Washington, D.C.

STEPHEN SPRUIELL RESPONDS: I did not mean to suggest any link between Bell’s complaint and the Post report, only that Count II of the complaint and the Post report described the same allegations of misconduct.

I reported that the Post used numbers selectively, not erroneously. I stand by that claim, but I did not intend to imply that the Post report contained errors.

I did not conceal anything from readers; I linked to Mr. Smith’s article for them to read. But his report does quote several TRMPAC and RNSEC lawyers describing their transactions as legal, and in retrospect I should have reported these quotes.

Outlaw Divorce?

Sen. Brownback tells us that research demonstrates that the children of divorced or remarried families are statistically more likely to suffer negative consequences. He then argues that we must have “reliable social-scientific data demonstrating” that a given form of family structure is at least as likely as a heterosexual married couple to produce positive outcomes for children.

But if the senator is willing to outlaw gay marriage because the data is inconclusive, what does he say about divorce and remarriage, for which the data is apparently conclusive that outcomes are not as good? I’ll be awaiting Sen. Brownback’s bill to outlaw divorce or remarriage by adults who have children.

Amy Phillips

New York, N.Y.

Members of the National Review editorial and operational teams are included under the umbrella “NR Staff.”


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