On the Death of Larry Kaczala and Predictable Toledo Blade Hatchet Jobs

It was with shock and sadness that I read today of the apparent suicide of Larry Kaczala, former Lucas County auditor and local fixture in Republican political circles. I met Larry a few times over the years in my work as a journalist (and once years ago when I was a card-carrying member of the Republican Party), and I found him to be a likable, friendly, and honest public servant who always returned calls and provided accurate and insightful commentary.

In short, he was a rarity in politics.

Yet in some ways I was even more disturbed to see that the Toledo Blade, the largest local paper and a newspaper long known around these parts for its transparent political agendas, chose on the day of this tragedy to once again smear the name of Larry Kaczala. You see, the Blade in mid-2005 ran a series uncovering the illegal activity of Tom Noe, a local political kingmaker whose fall from grace is encapsulated in the scandal known as Coingate. Kaczala's "sin" was to have accepted a total of $6,000 from Noe in elections in 2002 and 2004, long before the truth about Coingate began to leak.

Of course, it does not matter that practically anyone with an "R" after their name in local and regional politics unknowingly accepted what would later be discovered as tainted campaign cash. Heck, even the campaigns of California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and President George W. Bush received funds that were connected to Noe.

Of course, those well-funded campaigns could easily refund the cash and wash their metaphorical hands. Kaczala's campaign war chests had long been emptied by the time the Coingate story broke, as he lost handily in the 2004 election to incumbent Congresswoman Marcy Kaptur. Thus, for Kaczala to "clear" his name in the eyes of the Blade's editors and publisher, he would have had to use personal funds to try and buy his name back.

Here is the Blade's cheap-shot post-mortem attack on Kaczala (documented here in case they decide to edit their online tackiness):
Mr. Kaczala had unsuccessfully challenged U.S. Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D., Toledo) in 2004, a campaign that many felt cost him the auditor's race two years later because it allowed Ms. Lopez to raise the fact that convicted GOP fund-raiser Tom Noe and his wife, Bernadette, gave Mr. Kaczala $6,000 for his campaign to unseat Ms. Kaptur.

The poor man is not even in the ground yet and the Blade is tossing around Coingate for a pathetic attempt to once again rehash a story that should have long ago died its natural journalistic death. Unfortunately, the Blade continues to milk every possible mile out of the Coingate story, and any story with even the most remote of Noe connections gets the Coingate treatment. Even worse, a well-placed local source apparently spoke a few hours ago with Dave Murray, the Blade's managing editor, and he was quoted as indicating that the "Coingate reference was news-worthy and they would be writing more about Larry's Noe connections in tomorrow's article." Maybe Murray feels a little guilty right about now, as his latest Twitter post says that Kaczala was a "great guy."

Shame on you, Toledo Blade. Your attempts to squeeze cheap ratings at the expense of Larry Kaczala are as unabashedly sickening as anything the paper has ever done, and one wonders how Murray and the writers associated with this vile nonsense can sleep at night.

Let Larry Kaczala rest in peace.

Full disclosure: I occasionally work as a freelance writer for other local papers, including the Toledo Free Press. This post probably dooms any future I might have as a freelancer for the Blade, but I doubt I would be able to work with an organization with such few corporate scruples and still respect myself in the morning.