"Hardball" host Chris Matthews said Thursday that no one needs to worry about transparency on his MSNBC television show if wife Kathleen decides to run
for a seat in the House of Representatives.
On his show, Matthews announced that "Kathleen decided she is going to take a serious look at running for the United States Congress from where we live in Maryland."
That news, first reported in Politico,
followed an announcement by Rep. Chris Van Hollen, who has represented the state's 8th Congressional District since 2002, that he would run for the seat being vacated by Sen. Barbara Mikulski, who is retiring after 30 years in that chamber.
Chris Matthews told "Hardball" viewers that he believed strongly in his wife's judgment and values, and vowed that if she runs for office her campaign will be covered fairly by MSNBC.
"This is something I’ve just got to deal with," Matthews said in an interview with The Daily Beast.
"I think people know who I am. I talk about Kathleen on the show all the time, and she’s been on a good number of times… I think viewers should have a heads-up from me about what I know — so they’re going to get it."
If Kathleen Matthews, currently a senior executive with Marriott International, does decide to run for Congress, it could create ethical complications for her husband.
The question of campaign contributions could come up. The NBC Universal News Group — which includes MSNBC — "imposes strict rules on its anchors, who are generally prohibited from donating to political campaigns unless they receive prior approval," the Daily Beast noted.
In 2010, MSNBC personalities Keith Olbermann, a liberal Democrat, and Joe Scarborough,
a former Republican congressman, received two-day suspensions for writing checks to various candidates without permission.
Friends of Chris and Kathleen Matthews express skepticism that Mr. Matthews will be able to restrain himself enough to "play second fiddle," the role typically assigned to a politician's spouse.
"That's a prospect that those who know the couple, who are regulars on the Washington social scene, are having trouble envisioning," according to The Washington Post's
"Reliable Source" blog.
Several friends of the family raised a comparison to former President Bill Clinton's "unconventional" role as wife Hillary's spouse on the campaign trail in 2008 — a campaign that did not prove successful.
"Pity the poor campaign manager," a longtime friend of the Matthews couple told the Post.
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