Last summer, when U.S. Rep. Chaka Fattah was considering running for mayor, he said his wife, Renee Chenault-Fattah, should have no problem continuing her job as an NBC 10 news anchor.

"She doesn't do politics; I don't do journalism," he said.

But the drawn-out saga this week over whether the Fattahs would release their tax returns to the media - she has refused despite permission from the station - proved that Chenault-Fattah does sometimes become part of a campaign story. Media experts have questioned whether keeping a candidate's wife as a news anchor could affect the station's credibility.

"We've gotten some phone calls and I've heard word of mouth that her appearance on TV nightly, especially when there's Fattah news being handled by a co-anchor, represents a mini-Fattah commercial," said Zack Stalberg, CEO of political watchdog group Committee of Seventy.

Chenault-Fattah has said she does not work on stories involving Fattah, whom she married in 2001, long after establishing herself as a popular local news personality.

And Fattah has said she will not campaign for him. Chenault-Fattah was not on stage at Fattah's campaign announcement.

Still, some wondered if she should take a different role at the station for the time being.

"If you ask me, as a former journalist, I would say I wish they would put her in a different position for the duration of the campaign," Stalberg said. "I think it's an appearances question." *

- Catherine Lucey