- The Washington Times - Thursday, July 17, 2008

A Catholic advocacy group Wednesday called for the ouster of an adviser to Sen. John McCain’s presidential campaign, drawing attention to a past allegation of sexual misconduct.

Catholics United (CU) said Deal Hudson, a longtime Republican operative specializing in outreach to Catholic voters, should be removed from his campaign post with the presumptive Republican presidential nominee.

“If John McCain wants to represent a new kind of politics, then he and his Catholic committee would be well served by disassociating from divisive and controversial figures such as Deal Hudson,” said Chris Korzen, executive director of CU, a group claiming to be a nonpartisan religious interest group.

“Many Catholics find it disconcerting that McCain would embrace Hudson, an individual with a history of questionable moral judgment, as a public face of his Catholic outreach efforts.”

In 1994, Mr. Hudson was sued for sexual harassment by an 18-year-old female student at Fordham University. Mr. Deal, 58, who was a philosophy professor at Fordham at the time, lost his tenured position and paid a $30,000 settlement to the student.

The McCain campaign downplayed the request for the removal of Mr. Hudson, who’s on the “Catholics for McCain National Steering Committee.” Mr. Deal resigned from the Bush-Cheney campaign in 2004.

“He’s a name on a list, a volunteer, so when are we going to start talking about gas prices, jobs and the issues facing Americans? The McCain campaign is all done with the gotcha games,” said McCain spokesman Tucker Bounds.

Prior to the 2000 election, Mr. Hudson’s writing on how Republicans could attract Catholic voters caught the attention of Bush advisor Karl Rove. Mr. Deal had been publisher of Crisis Magazine, a well-known Catholic publication.

When Catholic voters helped Mr. Bush win the hotly contested 2000 election, Mr. Hudson’s stock in the White House went up, and he became a key conduit for Catholic interests seeking a channel into the Bush administration.

During the president’s re-election campaign, however, the National Catholic Reporter wrote an expose on Mr. Hudson, and he resigned from the campaign. He also left Crisis.

Mr. Hudson had helped the McCain campaign, according to previous reports, with issues such as a meeting between Catholic political leaders and televangelist John Hagee, who had endorsed Mr. McCain but also made anti-Catholic statements.

CU said they were starting a petition drive to have him removed from the campaign.

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