Former Adviser Accuses Moran Of Making Anti-Semitic Remark
By Lisa Rein and Spencer S. Hsu
Washington Post Staff Writers
Friday, June 4, 2004; Page B01
A longtime adviser to Rep. James P. Moran Jr. has lodged about the most damaging allegation that could be made about the congressman from Northern Virginia at this point in his reelection campaign: that he heard him make an anti-Semitic remark.
Last night, the seven-term congressman said he is "stupefied" at the allegation by his former campaign strategist and pollster, Alan M. Secrest, and called it a "flat-out lie."
The dispute marks another unpredictable turn in the career of the Washington region's most talked-about congressman. In Tuesday's 8th District Democratic primary, Moran, 59, faces a challenge from Andrew M. Rosenberg, an Alexandria lawyer who has made an issue of the incumbent's personal conduct and ethics, in particular a remark he made last year that angered American Jewish leaders and Democratic leaders.
Secrest, a prominent Alexandria-based pollster who has run 300 successful campaigns for Democratic members of Congress, said Moran made an anti-Semitic reference to the staff of a national Democratic campaign committee during a private meeting with advisers several weeks ago.
"The remark I'm referring to was anti-Semitic in nature," he said in an interview yesterday. He would not say what the remark was or explain why he would not say.
Secrest severed his 20-year relationship with Moran in a scathing letter dated May 25. He said in the letter that he had anguished over Moran's "increasingly erratic behavior."
Secrest wrote: "The final straw, for me, were your offensive remarks in a recent internal campaign meeting, remarks you have refused to clarify, amend, or apologize (even internally) for." He also cited a string of "maliciously inappropriate characterizations of others."
He added: "At some point, Jim, it isn't enough to be chagrined, embarrassed, and full of self-pity. You have to commit to making a change."
Secrest's resignation was first reported yesterday by Roll Call, a Capitol Hill newspaper.
Moran has been dogged in recent years by financial, ethical and personal controversies. He has been on the defensive for accepting a $25,000 loan from a drug company lobbyist whose bill he supported and a $447,000 debt-consolidation mortgage package he received from a credit card giant that sought legislation he co-sponsored.
Last year, an uproar developed over comments he made at a peace vigil in Reston that American Jews were pushing the country toward war with Iraq.
The meeting that Secrest refers to in his letter took place at the McLean home of Moran's fiancée to discuss the strategy for the final stretch of Moran's primary fight against Rosenberg. Also present were longtime Moran advisers Mame Reiley, director of Gov. Mark R. Warner's political action committee, and Joe Trippi, a political consultant who advised former Vermont governor Howard Dean's presidential campaign.
Moran recalled that Secrest was pressing him to conduct a poll. If the results were favorable, the poll could be used to draw donations from the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. Moran said he was against the idea. "I said I wasn't going to ask them to endorse me or give me money," Moran said, "because there are a lot of young kids [on the staff] there that don't know me."
He said he does not know whether the committee's staff has Jewish members. "It never occurred to me what their religion is."
© 2004 The Washington Post Company
Rep. James P. Moran Jr. called the allegation by his former strategist and pollster, Alan M. Secrest, a "flat-out lie."
(James M. Thresher -- The Washington Post)
Moran Denies Allegations: Rep. James P. Moran Jr. responded to former campaign strategiest Alan M. Secrest's allegation that he made an anti-semitic remark.
Transcript: Democratic challenger Andrew Rosenberg's discussion of congressional race.
Transcript: Rep. Jim Moran's discussion of the Virginia primary and his career.
The Battle for the 8th District (The Washington Post, Jun 3, 2004)
The Challenger: Andrew M. Rosenberg (The Washington Post, Jun 3, 2004)
Biography: Andrew M. Rosenberg (The Washington Post, Jun 3, 2004)
The Incumbent: Rep. James P. Moran (The Washington Post, Jun 3, 2004)
Biography: Rep. James P. Moran (The Washington Post, Jun 3, 2004)