The conflicts column, updated

Ah, the joys of holy matrimony.

Almost exactly a year ago, I wrote a column noting that my wife, Sarah Duniway, did legal work for at least one candidate and many of the political groups I cover. It turns out she has a new client: Mark Dayton’s recount fund.

As I noted last year, Sarah doesn’t tell me her clients (I found out about this one from a reporter). When I do learn of a connection, I’ll choose transparency with readers over recusal from the topic. You can factor the family connection into whatever you think of my work.

If you don’t already trust me, skip this part, but Sarah doesn’t talk about her clients nor does she feed me inside information — and vice versa. I’m not shy about my opinions, which are independent of her paydays, but remain committed to pursuing facts and evaluating them as fairly as I can. Part of that evaluation is whether I can be fair.

Again, you can find a longer discussion of our dinner-table process here.

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Comments (6)

  1. Submitted by Beryl John-Knudson on 11/18/2010 - 09:44 am.

    Mr. Brauer,

    As long as you don’t tell your readers you’ve been sleeping with Emma Goldman, rest in peace.

    As to “commmitted to pursuing facts and evaluating them carefully”…not to worry. You will be received as “fair”.

  2. Submitted by Hal Davis on 11/18/2010 - 12:26 pm.

    I do not think that sleeping with Emma Goldman would compromise any journalist’s objectivity.

    In my eyes, it would enhance credibility.

  3. Submitted by Howard Salute on 11/18/2010 - 12:36 pm.

    Your explanations would be more believable if you are a major earner in the family. But, since you have previously disclosed to readers your meager salary, and have shared some of your family expenditures, it can be assumed your wife is the major earner. Financial conflicts come in many different sizes.

  4. Submitted by James Hamilton on 11/18/2010 - 05:52 pm.

    @Mr. Salute:

    I’m not clear on your point. If, as you say, Ms. Duniway is the primary earner in her household, are you suggesting that Mr. Brauer would sacrifice his own career prospects to keep that income flowing? Seems a reach to me.

    If you are challenging Mr. Brauer’s statement that he doesn’t know who her clients are, as a general matter, let me assure you that my spouse has no idea who I represent or when that representation might affect her employer or even co-workers. (My clients, on the other hand, are always told about any conflicts that might arise out of my spouse’s employment and given the choice to proceed with or without me.) These are the rules under which lawyers operate.

  5. Submitted by John Olson on 11/19/2010 - 07:30 am.

    @Mr. Salute

    In addition to Mr. Hamilton’s valid points, I would also add that if Mr. Brauer chose not to disclose this information voluntarily and was later revealed by a third party, I suspect you would be among those castigating Mr. Brauer for nondisclosure.

    You cannot have it both ways.

  6. Submitted by Howard Salute on 11/19/2010 - 12:27 pm.

    In my opinion, if one is not financially independent, then one is not truly independant. You can argue the degrees.

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