(Toledo, OH) Editor and Publisher broke a story this afternoon about longtime Toledo Blade reporter George Tanber, who apparently admitted writing the infamous eight-page letter to the Pulitzer committee detailing the reasons why the Blade series on Coingate was "tainted."
The Blade reporter told E&P that he was suspended without pay today after informing editors of his involvement in the letter.
Tanber, who provided a copy of his two-page statement to E&P, said that he "did not sign the letter because I wanted the focus to be on the message, not on me. But I did provide an e-mail address to the Pulitzer board to contact me for further information or questions. No one did."
Tanber said that his decision to come forward was based on his desire to prevent innocent employees from being falsely accused.
"I have chosen to come forward because I don't want this investigation to continue at the expense of others," he said. "Already, some colleagues and others have been unfairly blamed and targeted. The responsibility is mine alone."
The Coingate series exposed corruption in Toledo and Ohio state politics involving coin dealer and political fund raiser Tom Noe. Noe is currently on trial for crimes related to millions of dollars in Bureau of Worker's Compensation funds that are missing, as well as federal campaign finance violations.
The state of Ohio alleges that many thousands of dollars of BWC monies wound up in campaign accounts of dozens of elected officials, including the 2004 campaign of President Bush and that of California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger.
In a probe that was related to Coingate outgoing Ohio Governor Bob Taft was convicted of misdemeanor ethics charges in 2005.
The Pulitzer letter involved charges that a former Toledo Blade writer, Fritz Wenzl, knew about the Coingate story and deliberately sat on the explosive material out of loyalty to the Noes. Given the close outcome of the 2004 election, some pundits have speculated that Ohio - and thus the 2004 presidential election - might have gone to John Kerry had the story broken earlier.
Toledo Blade editor Ron Royhab has publicly denied that the paper ever knew about details of the Coingate scandal prior to 2005, and credits its Columbus bureau with initially breaking the story.
For those who wish to understand the chronology of the complicated Wenzl-Coingate link, I suggest the excellent Salon.com article by Bill Frogameni.