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Friday, October 20, 2006
Wilson's Report Story Resurfaces
By Jeff Jones
Journal Staff Writer
Blogs were abuzz Thursday over a supposedly "lost" 13-year-old police report involving Rep. Heather Wilson's husband and what Wilson did with a file containing that report years ago.
Dailykos.com, rawstory.com and dukecityfix.com carried items on the issue, generating hundreds of blogger responses and a string of anonymous calls to the Journal.
However, the police report in question was never lost: It remains a public file at the Albuquerque Police Department. The story now being trumpeted in cyberspace was reported in 1996 by then-KOAT Action 7 News reporter Larry Barker and also was reported on by the Journal in 1996 and 1998.
Let's start at the beginning:
Wilson's husband, Jay Hone, is a longtime youth mentor and was named in a 1993 APD report involving him and a male who was then 16 years old.
FROM ALBUQUERQUE JOURNAL ARCHIVES
August 9, 1996: DA Plans Check on Wilson Records
Bernalillo County District Attorney Robert Schwartz said Thursday he plans to send an investigator to the Children, Youth and Families Department offices in Santa Fe to check on foster parent records involving department Secretary Heather Wilson. full story
June 17, 1998: Former DA Says Wilson Broke No Law Over File
Former District Attorney Bob Schwartz said Tuesday that Republican congressional candidate Heather Wilson did not break the law in 1995 when she had a confidential file concerning her family moved while she was head of the state's Children, Youth and Families Department. full story
July 19, 1998: Friends Say Wilson's Husband Content on Sidelines
People who know him say Jay Hone is happy to watch his wife, the new 1st District congresswoman, have the spotlight. full story
Hone was not arrested or charged with any crime, and the Journal elected not to print specifics from the report.
Wilson, who is seeking re-election this year in a tough battle with Democratic Attorney General Patricia Madrid, served as head of the state Children, Youth and Families Department from 1995 to 1998 before winning her first election to the 1st Congressional District seat in 1998.
During Wilson's first week as CYFD secretary, she ordered a file involving Hone's role as a foster parent to be moved from an Albuquerque warehouse to the CYFD offices at the Capitol. A family friend has said that file contained the 1993 police report.
Then-Bernalillo County District Attorney Bob Schwartz was critical of Wilson's handling of the file.
"The problem is when a public employee uses their official capacity to go ahead and take care of a personal problem," Schwartz was quoted as saying in an Aug. 9, 1996 Journal story. "There is a specific statutory frame on how these things are to be handled," he said.
Although still critical of her actions, Schwartz in a 1998 Journal story said Wilson did not break the law when she moved the report.
Several of the blogs implied that Wilson's actions amounted to a coverup.
In Barker's 1996 TV story about the Hone file, he asked Wilson, "Did you order ... a record removed?" and she responded, "No."
Since then, Wilson has said she had the file moved from the warehouse to CYFD offices because she did not want a file with personal information about her family available to department employees and denied opening the file or taking it out of the department offices.
"We move records every day," Wilson said in the 1996 Journal story. "We need to make sure that records are moved all the time and are safe."
A family friend told the Journal for a July 19, 1998, story that the report involved a 16-year-old boy whose legal interests Hone represented. The report said the youth was at Hone's house watching a movie when Hone touched him in a way that the youth said he thought was sexual. Friends told the Journal in the 1998 story that the report was the result of an inadvertent act that was not found to constitute abuse.
This is not the first time the Hone issue has come up in 1st District election campaigns.
In 1998, Wilson's Democratic opponent, Phil Maloof, alleged in a campaign ad that Wilson had abused her authority by moving the file.
Wilson at that time reacted with anger and emotion, but she was calmer about the issue when a Journal reporter asked her about it on Thursday.
"This is an old issue, and it has been dismissed before," Wilson said.