Wednesday, February 23, 2005


More Guckert/Gannon questions

I've been meaning to write about this ever since I read that Jeff Gannon was to be paid "more than half" of his income by Talon News. But I see that Greg Beato of has already got the ball rolling.
... there's two questions that don't seem like they've been answered definitively: Was Talon News actually paying a salary to Gannon? And if it wasn't, how was he earning a living for the past two years?

The latest evidence suggests Gannon started working for in January 2003.

But based on the information contained in the minutes from a Standing Committee of Correspondents meeting that took place in February 2004, it appears that Talon only started paying him after he submitted an application to get full accreditation for the Congressional press galleries: "...Talon News is an all-volunteer news service, though since Mr. Guckert's application [to the Standing Committee] was submitted, a stipend was arranged that would provide more than half of Mr. Guckerts income in an effort to comply with the gallery's requirements that correspondents be paid, full time employees of the organization for which they are applying."

Since the stipend was only for "more than half" of Gannon's income, presumably he had some other job. But what was it? The same document implies that Gannon might have been getting paid for being the Executive Director of the Free Speech Foundation, but it doesn't say that explicitly, and information on that organization is pretty much non-existent.

Also, the minutes make it clear that Talon started paying Gannon only after he applied for accreditation. Since he obviously applied sometime around February 2004 (because the meeting dealing with his request for accreditation happened in late February 2004), that suggests he was working for Talon for as long as a year before it started paying him even a "stipend."

So how was he earning his keep in 2003?

In an interview on CNN tonight, Gannon referred to Talon as his "employer." And CNN's Anderson Cooper referred to Talon as his "employer" too.

But from what I can see, it's never been established how much Talon was actually paying him. Was it an amount someone could realistically live on? And if it wasn't, did he have any other legal sources of income? [emphasis added]

First, let me point out that for IRS purposes, it really makes no difference whether the income is legal or illegal. Whether you're a hooker or a hitman, you're still supposed to report your income, and some of the really smart hookers have done just that. There's even a line on the IRS Form 1040 for "embezzled or other illegal income." (I'm not sure what the IRS's confidentiality rules are here, so you should definitely check with your attorney.)

Second, if he didn't report the income, he's got some IRS problems. (Is the IRS looking into this?)

Third, it's the mechanics of this odd method of payment that fascinates me. We don't know the time-scale of this strange income arrangement with Talon News. Was it by the week (or weekend), month or year? Did Guckert/Gannon hand Eberle his previous year's tax return and say "I'll require half of this amount plus a penny"? Or did he come back from a hot weekend (that's $1200 a pop, mind you) and submit an invoice to Talon for $1200.01?

So many questions, so little time!

Beato continues—

But if Talon wasn't paying Gannon a salary that he could actually live on, and if he had no other verifiable sources of legal income, then things would get kind of weird, wouldn't they? Indeed, at that point I think you'd see all the people who are currently decrying the invasion of Gannon's "private life" suddenly get very interested in his private life. And they'd be trying to prove that not only was he an escort at some point, but that he was an escort the whole time he was working for Talon! Because if he wasn't earning a living from his Talon gig, and he wasn't earning a living from his escort business, then where was he getting his money from?

Guckert/Gannon says he was not paid for working on the Thune campaign against Daschle in South Dakota. And everyone seems to accept that he was not being paid by the White House.1 So whence the money?

Guckert was apparently doing quite well, thank you. On the question of whether Guckert/Gannon will be attending the annual White House Correspondents Dinner this year, Joe Strupp reports

"I have every intention of attending this year's [dinner]," Guckert, a guest at the last two dinners, told E&P today. "Don’t you think I could? I'm sure someone is going to ask me or offer me the opportunity to go. It is a great publicity event." This year's dinner will be held on April 30.

"I got a ticket each year," Guckert said, declining to name those who brought him. "I paid, and I just wanted to be there. I met John Kerry at one of them and the cast of 'The West Wing.' I met Al Franken at the first one after he'd gotten into it with the Fox News table."

Hutcheson, who covers the White House for Knight Ridder, said the association has 300 members, all of whom are allowed to purchase tables of 10 for the dinner at $175 per person. [emphasis added]

My, oh my, oh my!

Previous posts
Another press outing? (updated) (2/16/05)
Letter from Joystick re Guckert/Gannon-McClellan (2/18/05)
Guckert/Gannon on record at CNN (updated)


1 This point has been endlessly repeated in blogs and news reports. But it strangely misses the point. Regular admittance to the White House Press Room is worth money—maybe not as much as a seat on the NY Stock Exchange, but just ask the other reporters there. [back]

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