Two weeks after MSNBC suspended Keith Olbermann for making donations to Democratic candidates in apparent violation of the network’s policy, MSNBC President Phil Griffin has now suspended Joe Scarborough as well after it was discovered that Scarborough violated the policy by making eight more contributions, this time to Florida candidates between 2004 and 2008. The donations were for $500 each.
Olbermann was suspended for two days for making three contributions to congressional candidates. MSNBC’s policy is that its employees cannot make political donations without notifying Griffin beforehand and getting permission. In Olbermann’s case he mistakenly violated the rules, which he says he knew nothing about.
At the time of Olbermann’s suspension, donations made by Scarborough were discovered. Two donations of $2,100 each were made in 2006 to Republican Derrick Kitts. After those donations came to light, Scarborough’s co-host on his show Morning Joe, Mika Brzezinski made a statement:
That contribution should have been in the name of Scarborough’s wife, Susan Scarborough, according to Scarborough’s co-host on MSNBC’s Morning Joe, Mika Brzezinski, as well as John R. McGregor III, a representative from the Scarboroughs’ Pensacola, Fla., bank. POLITICO was provided a copy of the bank transfer, which was dated April 9 and signed by Susan Scarborough.
“The Scarboroughs expect John Merrill will amend his campaign report to accurately reflect that reality,” said Brzezinski. “If he does not, I will recommend they file an ethics complaint against him.”
However, Joe Scarborough is listed as the only donor on the Open Secrets contribution website. When Obermann’s suspension was lifted, he released a statement explaining what actually happened and why he was unaware of the policy:
You should know that I mistakenly violated an inconsistently applied rule – which I previously knew nothing about – that pertains to the process by which such political contributions are approved by NBC. Certainly this mistake merited a form of public acknowledgment and/or internal warning, and an on-air discussion about the merits of limitations on such campaign contributions by all employees of news organizations.
Instead, after my representative was assured that no suspension was contemplated, I was suspended without a hearing, and learned of that suspension through the media. You should also know that I did not attempt to keep any of these political contributions secret; I knew they would be known to you and the rest of the public.
I did not make them through a relative, friend, corporation, PAC, or any other intermediary, and I did not blame them on some kind of convenient ‘mistake’ by their recipients. When a website contacted NBC about one of the donations, I immediately volunteered that there were in fact three of them; and contrary to much of the subsequent reporting, I immediately volunteered to explain all this, on-air and off, in the fashion MSNBC desired.
That contribution was made in accordance with (network) policy,” said MSNBC spokesman Jeremy Gaines. “Joe sought permission in advance. Since 2007 we have recommitted ourselves to following these important standards.”
Joe Scarborough, host of the “Morning Joe” talk show and the evening newscast “Scarborough Country,” (gave) $4,200 in March 2006 to Derrick Kitts, Republican candidate for the House from Oregon. … A spokesperson for NBC, Jeremy Gaines, replied to questions sent to Scarborough. “Yes, he did make a donation to Derrick Kitts. Kitts is an old friend of Joe’s. Joe hosts an opinion program and is not a news reporter.”
This morning Joe Scarborough informed me that he made eight contributions of $500 each to local candidates in Florida between 2004-08. In my conversation with Joe two weeks ago, he did not recall these contributions.
It was recently brought to my attention that I made political contributions over the past several years that are not consistent with MSNBC’s guidelines. These contributions were to close personal friends and family members and were limited to local races.Despite the fact that these races were local and not relevant to my work at MSNBC, I have been told they violated MSNBC guidelines.
I recognize that I have a responsibility to honor the guidelines and conditions of my employment, and I regret that I failed to do so in this matter. I apologize to MSNBC and to anyone who has been negatively affected by my actions.
I gave a number of $500 contributions to my brother and three longtime family friends. These contributions were nothing more than simple acts of friendship. I gained nothing personally, politically, or professionally from these donations.
To be blunt, I had no interest in their campaigns other than being kind to longtime friends.
Because the contributions involved local, non-competitive races–and were given for personal rather than political reasons–I mistakenly believed I did not need approval from MSNBC. I also apologize for that oversight.
After learning of this situation, I called Phil Griffin and agreed with Phil’s immediate demand of a two-day suspension without pay.
After learning of the situation, (contributions he made years ago) he still manages to make it sound as if he was the one to take charge, make the call, and come to an agreement over his own suspension with his boss.
Odd too, isn’t it, how similar his statement almost mirrors Olbermann’s. (You can read the rest of it here.)
So Joe will get a couple of days off next week. Plenty of time to make the explanations even better. Knowing how Scarborough operates, by the time he comes back the entire thing will probably be Phil Griffin’s fault.