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Friends Say Wilson's Husband Content on Sidelines

By Leslie Linthicum/
Journal Staff Writer
      People who know him say Jay Hone is happy to watch his wife, the new 1st District congresswoman, have the spotlight.
       Jay Hone's public role during his wife, Heather Wilson's, campaign for Congress appeared to be to stand by her side, often smiling, and almost always holding one or both of their small children.


  • 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

    click to enlarge photo
    July 19, 1998 Sunday Journal front page from microfilm

  • 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

  •        And that, he and his friends say, is exactly where Hone, a lawyer by trade, is happy to be.
           He is described by friends as brilliant, compassionate and a born leader, the kind of man who might find success in the political arena. But Hone has chosen a spot in the background, just outside the glare of publicity, where he can bask in the reflected glow of his wife's success.
           The new congresswoman from the 1st District says her husband is shy. Fellow lawyers say he is careful. A friend says he doesn't like to talk about himself.
           Whatever the reason, Hone declined to be interviewed or photographed for this story.
           "The congresswoman is my wife, but I'm really a private person," Hone said in turning down an interview request.
           Wilson said she could be of no help in persuading Hone to open up.
           "I wish I could. He's a wonderful guy," Wilson said. But "he really is a private person and I respect that."
           Hone did provide a list of friends and colleagues who would be willing to talk about him.
           Different interests
           By their accounts, Hone brings energy and commitment to a range of interests.
           He is active in the Boy Scouts of America, serving over the years as a scoutmaster, a lodge leader and the adviser to the Scouts' prestigious Order of the Arrow.
           He is a judge advocate in the New Mexico Air National Guard, where he advises on military law.
           He has worked as a lawyer in Albuquerque since 1982, practicing in two respected law firms — Rodey Dickason Sloan Akin & Robb and Montgomery & Andrews — before starting his own one-person firm in 1991.
           As a single man, Hone opened his home to foster children and adopted one, a teen-age boy named Scott, who is 28 now and an entertainer in Germany.
           Scott said he was a 16-year-old runaway staying at the New Day Shelter in Albuquerque when Hone took him into his home as a foster child.
           The teen-ager and Hone hit it off immediately, skiing, running and playing racquetball and tennis together, Scott said in a phone interview from Elspe, Germany, where he is producing and directing a music show.
           "He was my friend as well as the best mentor I could have asked for. He gave me the common sense that I hadn't had in my other family. He's a great father. I couldn't ask for a better one," Scott said.
           Richard Puglisi, a former colleague of Hone's at the Rodey firm and now a federal magistrate judge, said Hone's commitment to children was surprising for a young, single attorney.
           "All the stuff that a single guy would probably hate to do most — taking care of other people's kids and then becoming a single father — Jay did it," Puglisi said. "He's a better man than I am. They're just remarkable things for a single person to do, but I couldn't think of a better man to do them."
           Supporting Wilson
           These days, Hone is a busy father to Caitlin, 22 months, and Joshua, 4. He acts as Mr. Mom and Mr. Dad while Wilson fills out the remainder of the late Steve Schiff's term in Congress and campaigns to keep the seat in the general election this fall.
           Wayne Bingham, an Albuquerque lawyer who first met Hone when they were on opposing sides of a lawsuit and became friends through their shared interest in scouting, describes Hone as secure enough in his own accomplishments to be happy as the unknown spouse.
           "He's very altruistic. It's never about Jay," said Bingham. "I think he's content to hang in the background and keep the home fires burning and keep the law practice going. He's not going to be running to Washington a lot."
           Puglisi says Hone, despite the rigors of the political campaigns, is as happy as he's ever been.
           "He is so much in love with Heather Wilson that I think he has never had such a good time standing by and watching her succeed," Puglisi said. "He's a moonbeam of joy for her."
           Hone, 45, was born in Lima, Ohio, and grew up in solid Middle America. He was an Eagle Scout and in ROTC in high school and studied government at small Otterbein College, about 90 minutes from home. After graduating from college in 1974, Hone went to law school at Duke University, graduating in 1977 and began a professional career in the Air Force, where he was stationed at Kirtland Air Force Base.
           He was a staff lawyer and Area Defense Counsel before being assigned to teach undergraduate law at the Air Force Academy in 1981.
           Hone found time during his year in Colorado Springs to serve as the adviser to a Cadet Explorer Post of the Boy Scouts. And he met Heather Wilson, a 20-year-old student in his law class.
           They became friends and remained pen pals after Hone left the Air Force in 1982 and moved back to Albuquerque to join the Rodey firm.
           Wilson went on to Oxford University as a Rhodes Scholar, earned a doctorate there and rose through the ranks of the Air Force in Europe, leaving the service with the rank of captain to take a job at the National Security Council in Washington, D.C.
           By the time Wilson was nearly 30 and excelling in a career in international relations in Washington, D.C., Hone was a 38-year-old single dad in Albuquerque with a 21-year-old adopted son.
           Hone and Wilson still were corresponding when in June 1990, Hone, on business in New York, called Wilson and invited her to come up to the city to see a play. They caught a matinee of "City of Angels" and had a great time.
           "I didn't expect to hear from him again," Wilson joked recently, "because he was a nice guy."
           But Hone called again and invited her to visit Albuquerque the next month.
           During her weekend visit, friends say, "the spark was ignited," and Wilson returned to the East Coast thinking about marriage.
           They were married months later, in 1991, and Hone threw a wedding reception at his Alameda home to introduce his bride to his circle of friends.
           Trying times
           While Hone kept a steady rudder on his legal career, building a solo practice around defending cases for insurance companies, Wilson began a political career, accepting Gov. Gary Johnson's appointment to head the Children, Youth and Families Department.
           It was during Wilson's first week on the job in 1996 that she ordered a file regarding Hone's role as a foster parent to be moved from an Albuquerque warehouse to the department's offices in the Capitol, an action that became the focus of a television report later that year and ballooned into a campaign issue earlier this year.
           Wilson has said 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.
           Wilson's Democratic opponent, Phil Maloof, alleged in advertisements that Wilson abused her authority by moving the file.
           Wilson reacted with anger and emotion. Hone, his friends say, was hurt by the implication that he was guilty of some wrongdoing in relation to his care of Scott or any of his foster children.
           A family friend said the file contained a 1993 police report. The report involved Hone and a 16-year-old boy — not adopted son Scott — whose legal interests Hone represented. Friends say the report was the result of an inadvertent act that was not found to constitute abuse.
           "It's my understanding that the police report is a technicality that had to be filed under our reporting laws," said magistrate judge Puglisi. Hone has told Puglisi about the incident and its resolution. "There is absolutely nothing negative in the file. In fact, the contents of the file would put him in line for getting a medal."
           Adopted son Scott Hone said he has read and heard about the controversy and said the allegations leave a false impression there was a problem between his foster father and him.
           "I've seen these things in the newspaper, and they just make me so mad," Scott said. "There isn't anything to it. I experienced nothing but kindness and goodness."
           JoAnn Erickson, who worked for Hone as a paralegal at Montgomery & Andrews and now helps Hone with paralegal work and jury selection consulting, said Hone worked hard to raise Scott through adolescence. He adopted the boy and gave him his last name just before he turned 21.
           "That man stood by that little boy like no one else would have," said Erickson. "He stood by him through the problems of adolescence, and it wasn't easy."
           Scott has pursued a career in entertainment and has sung and danced in a cruise ship show. Hone and Wilson took the cruise to catch his act.
           Scott and Hone share an interest in musical theater, and Hone and Wilson go to New York once a year to see Broadway shows.
           Back to work
           Hone put his law practice on hold during the campaign but is back at work and adapting to Wilson's travel schedule, friends say. The couple employ a babysitter at their Alameda home, and Hone is home to relieve her by 5:30 or 6 every evening.
           Hone will remain in Albuquerque while Wilson commutes. She has rented a basement apartment near the Capitol, and says she plans to spend weekends and congressional recesses in Albuquerque.
           He also spends one weekend a month and another 15 days during the year, the standard National Guard requirement, in his job as judge advocate for the 150th Fighter Wing. It is, coincidentally, the job that Schiff held in the Air National Guard.
           Albuquerque lawyer William Gralow, Hone's commander in the unit, said Hone is a military scholar and devoted to the Air Force. His politics are conservative, but Hone has no interest in the arena Wilson has chosen to serve.
           "Jay is willing to do the things that have to be done for her to have her career. He took time off from his law practice. He's doing the extra child care," Gralow said. "He's a very bright individual, but I don't think he's anywhere near as driven as she is, and I think he's very willing to let her take the lead."