Oversights on Campaign Websites Snag Both District 29 Senate Candidates
By Bryan Jaffe
ST. MARY'S COUNTY, Md. - Last week, it was learned that Thomas F. McKay (R - Hollywood), president of the St. Mary's Board of County Commissioners and candidate for Maryland's 29th Senatorial District, had an incorrect biography on the St. Mary's County website and his own campaign website.
The biographical information erroneously attributed a Business Administration degree to McKay, who attended the University of Maryland, but never received said degree.
In addition to posting the information on his website, it was passed along to the Washington Post, which reported the incorrect information.
This week it was learned that McKay's opponent, Sen. Roy Dyson (D - St. Mary's, Calvert, Charles) had incorrect information on his website as well.
The error on the Dyson website attributes endorsements from the Maryland Right to Life and Southern Maryland Electric Cooperative
(SMECO), neither of which are correct.
SMECO spokesman David Foggo said SMECO does not endorse any candidate, and all political contributions are made through the national political action committee (PAC) for electric cooperativesAction Committee for Rural Electrification (ACRE). Foggo added that while SMECO does not directly contribute to the campaign of any candidate, they may make recommendations to the PAC regarding who should receive a contribution.
As for the other endorsement, the Maryland Right to Life website indicates their endorsement for the 2006 District 29 Senate seat goes to McKay. Chris Falkenhagen, a campaign worker for Dyson, said Dyson carried the endorsement from the previous election, and believed they still had that recommendation. A spokesperson for Maryland Right to Life confirmed that Dyson had the endorsement in the previous election.
McKay said his biographical errors were clerical in nature, and in no way reflect an attempt to mislead the voters.
"I gave the county government the correct information and I never posted any incorrect information in any campaign with the exception of this information which was transferred to my website from the county site," McKay said.
"We have no comment on that," said Falkenhagen, when asked about the degree. "We prefer to focus on the positive issues of this campaign."
St. Mary's Commissioner Thomas Mattingly Sr. (D - Leonardtown) did comment on the matter and feels it was more than an error.
"I think he should take full responsibility for the error in his biography," Mattingly said. "He needs to stop placing the blame on other people. I don't believe it was an oversight, he knew what he had and didn't have, and he modified his resume and bio to make it appear he had a college degree. Now he is trying to blame it on someone else."
Mattingly said the county staffers work hard and do an excellent job, but when they make a mistake, they stand up and take responsibility for it. He added that it is not right to blame them for mistakes they have not made.
"It was my mistake for not paying attention to the details about what was posted on the website in my biography," McKay said. "I should have watched it more closely. If I had known it was posted that way, I would have stopped it."
As for the erroneous endorsements, which appeared on Dyson's website as late as Wednesday afternoon, Falkenhagen indicated they would be removed from the site immediately.
(David Noss from Southern Maryland Online contributed to this article)