President Obama attended the 1991 wedding of Martha Raddatz, the ABC senior foreign correspondent who is moderating Thursday night’s vice presidential debate, according to the online publication the Daily Caller.
In 1991, Ms. Raddatz married Julius “Jay” Genachowski, who was a member of the Harvard Law Review with Mr. Obama and later would be selected by the president to head the Federal Communications Commission. The two divorced in 1997, and Ms. Raddatz has since remarried.
Before The Daily Caller, a conservative news website, reported the story, ABC News released a statement to news outlets, including Politico, and called conflict-of-interest claims “absurd.”
An ABC news spokesman provided the statement to The Washington Times on Wednesday:
“Martha Raddatz is known for her tough, fair reporting, which is why it was no surprise to her colleagues inside and outside ABC News that she was chosen by the Commission on Presidential Debates for this assignment. Barack Obama was a law school classmate of Raddatz’s ex-husband Julius Genachowski at Harvard. At the time Barack Obama was a student and president of the Law Review. He attended their wedding over two decades ago along with nearly the entire Law Review, many of whom went onto successful careers including some in the [George W.] Bush administration. Raddatz and Mr. Genachowski divorced in 1997 and both are now remarried.”
Among the classmates in attendance was Bradford Berenson, associate White House counsel under President George W. Bush.
Peter Eyre, an adviser to the nonpartisan Commission on Presidential Debates, said the commission did not know about the connection before Ms. Raddatz was selected as the moderator, but he dismissed the notion that the news would have played any role in the decision-making process.
“The CPD did not know and it would not have affected our selection of Ms. Raddatz,” Mr. Eyre said in an e-mailed statement. “We are honored to have her moderate the VP debate tomorrow.”
Mitt Romney’s campaign was similarly unaware of Ms. Raddatz’s previous ties to the president, but accepted the selection of debate moderators. Mr. Obama’s campaign did not respond to a request for comment.
Ms. Raddatz was selected to moderate the debate between Vice President Joseph R. Biden and Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, the Republican vice presidential nominee, to be held on the campus of Centre College in Danville, Ky.