By David Noss
LEONARDTOWN, Md. - The St. Mary's County Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) today issued a written statement correcting an error that appeared in County Commissioner President Thomas McKay's biography that appeared on the county's website. It is believed that this statement is in response to a story that appeared on the on-line edition of St. Mary's Today dated October 25, 2006.
The story was titled, "Hambone: Show us your diploma!" "Hambone" is a derogatory term often used by the weekly St. Mary's Today when referring to McKay. The article does not carry a byline which would identify the writer.
The article focuses on the fact that McKay's biography, which appears on the County Government's website, indicated that he holds a "Bachelors Degree in Business Administration." The article provides a copy of a letter from the University of Maryland Records and Registrations office dated 10/24/06 that indicates "no degrees awarded" to McKay.
The letter does indicate that McKay attended the University of Maryland as an undergraduate during the following periods: Fall 1977 full-time; Spring 1978 full-time; Summer 1978 half-time; Fall 1978 full-time; and Spring 1979 less than half-time.
Using historic snapshots of the county webpage on archive.org and google.com, the St. Mary's Today was able to show how as early as March 12, 2003, the biography on the County's website contained no mention of a degree. However, beginning with a snapshot from February 10, 2005, the mention of the degree appeared: "Mr. McKay attended Ryken High School from 1970-1974 and the University of Maryland from 1974-1979, receiving a Bachelors Degree in Business Administration."
As of October 26, a day after the story broke, the mention of the degree had been removed.
The statement released by the BOCC today also contained an updated bio for McKay. Relative to his educational background, it reads, "Mr. McKay attended Ryken High School from 1970-1974 and the University of Maryland from 1974-1979." This is exactly the way it read in the March 12, 2003 and Aug. 11, 2004 snapshots.
"Changes were made by my staff that were not correct," stated McKay in the written response from the BOCC. "I did not direct my staff in any way to make an inaccurate claim. I have spoken with the staff member and am satisfied that this was a clerical error which has been corrected." The staff member was not identified by name.
McKay continued in the statement to say: "Additionally, I am glad that I have been made aware of this. I have never tried to represent myself as anything other than what I am. My record of accomplishments working on behalf of the people of St. Mary's County speaks for itself."
The St. Mary's Today article also refers to McKay's 2006 Election Profile that appears on the Washington Post's website. The profile also incorrectly identifies McKay as having a "BA, business administration, University of Maryland."
Due to the late hour, we were unable to reach Mr. McKay's campaign spokesman Sean Powell for comment on the candidate profile that appears on the Washington Post site. Powell is listed as the Chairman of McKay for Southern Maryland. We will print a response from McKay's Campaign when we are able to reach them.
Note Saturday October 28, 2006: McKay's response has been received. To preserve the integrity of the story, a new article has been posted here: