“I believe that The Washington Post doesn’t have any right to require that information of me or any other political candidate,” she said in a phone interview Monday. “I believe that it is a violation against my civil right and a manifestation of ageism.”
Earlier this month, The Post sent an online questionnaire to all four candidates running for the board’s one open seat. The survey included several required questions on basic biographical information — including age, neighborhood and occupation — and asked candidates to describe their stances on local issues.
In her submission last week, Clement reported her age as 52. In voter registration records reviewed by The Post on Monday, she reported that she was born in March 1949 — which would make her twenty years older. A court record for a 2007 traffic ticket also listed her birthday as falling in the same month and year as those listed in registration.
Asked to confirm whether she was in fact 72, Clement said, “I take my Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination.” Upon further questioning, Clement said she had “achieved the age of 52.”
Clement said an interview Monday that she intended to write “I refuse to disclose” in the part of the survey that asked for her age, but The Post’s form required a number for that field.
When that didn’t work, she tried to leave the field blank, she said. When the form didn’t accept that submission either, she wrote that she was 52 instead. Clement never reached out to The Post to ask that her age not be disclosed, nor did she request that The Post article that reported she was 52 be corrected.
Mark Rozell, dean of the Schar School of Policy and Government at George Mason University, said it is standard practice for reporters to ask candidates for elected office about their age — and that it was disqualifying for a candidate to misstate their age.
“If you can’t trust someone to accurately represent themselves, where is the trust for anything else as a public servant?” he said. “In the realm of ridiculous, it’s off the charts.”
Clement, however, claimed that it should be illegal to ask candidates for public office about their age, at first saying it violated the First Amendment — even though the First Amendment does not guarantee a right to privacy. She then cited federal employment law, which prevents employers from asking job candidates their exact age.
Asked why voters should trust her if she misstates her age, she again evaded the question.
“I believe that your questioning of me right now is a violation of my right to privacy,” she told a reporter.
In a subsequent phone call, Clement said that “a lot of candidates who reach a certain age are perceived to be over the hill, and therefore, unqualified for the office for which they are running.”
Alice Crites contributed to this report.