May 23, 1995 in Nation/World

Writer Fails To Disclose Japanese Connection

Washington Post
 
Tags:ethics

In his syndicated column Friday, George F. Will assailed the Clinton administration’s proposed tariffs on Japanese luxury cars, calling them “trade-annihilating tariffs to coerce another government into coercing its automobile industry.”

He repeated his criticism Sunday on ABC’s “This Week With David Brinkley,” calling the 100 percent tariffs “illegal” and “a subsidy for Mercedes dealerships.”

What Will did not mention is that his wife, Mari Maseng Will, is a registered foreign agent for the Japan Automobile Manufacturers Association. Her firm, Maseng Communications, was paid $198,721 last year to lobby for the industry.

Will dismissed any suggestion of a conflict. “I was for free trade long before I met my wife. End of discussion,” he said Monday. “There are people in Washington whose entire life consists of raising questions. To me, it’s beyond boring. I don’t understand the whole mentality.

“What’s to disclose? What would I say? That one of my wife’s clients agrees with my long-standing views on free trade? Good God,” he said.

But several newspaper editors said Will should have disclosed his wife’s paid lobbying. “I’m very distressed,” said Dennis A. Britton, editor of the Chicago Sun-Times. “That’s one of those material facts an editor should know before placing a story in the paper. That’s like a financial writer having a stake in a company he’s writing about.”

Will did disclose on the Brinkley show last month that his wife was advising Sen. Robert J. Dole, R-Kan., in his presidential campaign and would become the campaign’s communications director. Will, who mentioned this before questioning Dole, said he did so only “because ABC asked me to.” He said his wife’s role would not inhibit him in commenting on the Dole campaign.

Will is probably the nation’s most prominent conservative writer.


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