Republican Senate candidate Paul S. Trible Jr. today defended a controversial campaign memo linking his Democratic opponent to national labor political money as accurate, but pleaded with newsmen to stop asking questions about the document.
Although stung by Democrat Richard J. Davis' recent charge that the memo revealed a "lack of integrity," Trible refused to answer specifics about the memo during a stormy, 40-minute press conference.
The 35-year-old congressman from Newport News, turned aside more than a dozen questions about allegations contained in the Aug. 11 document -- all of which have been denied by Davis' campaign. Those allegations, Trible said, came from a confidential source that Trible said he was not at liberty to identify.
"It doesn't make the life of this campaign any easier," Trible said. "I wish the campaign could tell you the name of that individual. But it would be wrong because it would endanger the professional life and career of that individual."
When the questions persisted, Trible pleaded for questions on other issues. "Doesn't anyone care about a balanced budget?" he asked. "If we're going to focus this campaign on the great issues of the day, it's going to require your assistance."
"Paul Trible's credibility will remain in doubt until he admits that the assertions in the Aug. 11 memorandum are false," said Davis spokesman Will Marshall.
Authored by Trible campaign manager Judy Peachee, the memo described a purported New York meeting of the AFL-CIO's Committee on Public Education at which Davis staffers allegedly previewed television spots and then solicited $3,000 each from representatives of 75 national labor unions.
According to the memo, the Davis staffers asked that contributions at the meeting be pledged but "withheld until after the Sept. 30 FEC (Federal Election Commission) deadline, then sent to the Davis campaign." Davis and a spokesman for the union committee in New York have insisted that no such meeting took place.
After more than three weeks of silence on the matter, Trible called today's news conference to "answer all the questions," said spokesman Neal Cotiaux. Trible said, "The concerns expressed in the memo are justified. I'm confident that Davis' final FEC report will show substantial labor contributions."
Trible also attempted once more to tag Davis, a 61-year-old millionaire mortgage banker from Portsmouth who has been endorsed by the Virginia AFL-CIO, as the labor candidate in the race. Candidates must take responsibility for the organizations and political action committees that endorse them, Trible said.