Schaefer press aide Traynor is reassigned in wake of furor

August 08, 1992|By John W. Frece | John W. Frece,Annapolis Bureau

ANNAPOLIS -- Schaefer administration press secretary Frank Traynor, whose credibility problems with the media were compounded when he told a Sun reporter last month to "kiss my a ," was reassigned indefinitely to Maryland Public Television yesterday.

The governor's top staff was notified of the reassignment in a private memorandum from chief of staff Paul E. Schurick, a copy of which was obtained by The Sun.

However, the memo makes no reference to Mr. Traynor's run-in with the Sun reporter, his broader credibility problems with the Annapolis press corps or Gov. William Donald Schaefer's reported unhappiness with his performance as the administration's chief spokesman.

Mr. Traynor was a central figure in a brouhaha last month over the botched announcement of a federal waiver that permitted Maryland to begin a welfare reform program. The following day, Mr. Schaefer ordered strict coordination of all press releases through his office, a move that was interpreted by most state agencies as a gag order on any dealings with the media and legislators.

When a Sun reporter asked Mr. Traynor why his version of the events surrounding the waiver announcement differed from the governor's version, the press secretary replied: "I only have one comment for your paper. It's a carefully crafted comment. Are you writing a book. Question mark. If so, kiss my a-- and make it a love story. Period."

Several state public information officers, who asked not to be identified, also have said they had difficulties dealing with Mr. Traynor. However, it was his contradictory waiver account and the profanity that prompted his departure, administration sources indicated.

Mr. Traynor, a former national manager for Fox News Service in Washington, became press secretary in July 1991. He was on vacation and unavailable for comment yesterday.

Mr. Schaefer said that Mr. Traynor suggested going to public television months ago but acknowledged that the aide's recent problems with the media might have prompted the governor "to expedite" the move.

Page Boinest, Mr. Traynor's top assistant, was named acting press secretary.

Mr. Schaefer said: "I never thought we got the full value out of Maryland Public TV. I think MPT is a great one, but there's not enough local public service [programming]. Frank has some experience in that, and he can go over and see what he can do."

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