UPDATE: McKay Responds to Inaccuracy in Bio Reported by St. Mary's Today

By David Noss

Note: Last night, Friday, Oct. 27, 2006, we printed “County Government Responds to Inaccuracy in McKay Bio Reported by St. Mary's Today.” The story developed in the evening and we were unable to reach McKays’ campaign spokesman by 10:00 p.m. The story was so annotated and we promised to print McKay’s response when we received it. We did receive a response at 7:05 a.m. today. Rather than just print the response out of context, the entire article is reprinted with the appropriate comments integrated into the story.

LEONARDTOWN, Md. - The St. Mary's County Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) on Friday 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." The article further indicated that the incorrect credential was also published on McKay’s campaign website.

Sean Powell, Chairman for McKay for Southern Maryland, acknowledged that the error did appear on the campaign website and still appears on the Washington Post site. Powell explains that the error had common roots. According to McKay’s BOCC statement, the error was originally introduced by a staff member on the County’s website. Powell explained in an email response that information from the County’s website was literally cut and pasted to both the campaign’s website and the submission to the Washington Post.

“We certainly regret our attention to detail when transferring the information from the county website to other informational portals,” said Powell. “I am sure the opposition appreciates how attention to detail sometimes slips in a busy campaign in light of the fact he sent two mailers claiming to save the Patuxent River Naval Air Station with pictures of Air Force aircraft flying overhead.” (emphasis ours)

Powell is referring to Maryland Senator Roy DysonMcKay's opponent in the 2006 race for Senator of District 29.

Powell said that the initial biography submitted to the county by Commissioner President McKay following his election in 2002 made no reference to having earned a degree. “In fact, it was identical to information on the campaign literature he used during the 2002 campaign,” said Powell.

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