Another One Bites The Dust

The Miami Herald's Gary Fineout reports that Sergio Pino, a fundraiser for Charlie Crist's gubernatorial campaign, has stepped down from his post. It's another example of a strong, expansive press in South Florida getting rid of a bad clam in public life.

The trophy belongs on the wall of the Daily Business Review, one of those small publications that's worth its weight in journalistic gold. DBR's Oscar Pedro Musibay broke the story about Pino last week (I was out of town and so wasn't here to post it). Musibay reported that Pino reimbursed nearly $30,000 to Jeb Bush contributors in 2002. It's illegal, it's unseemly, and it's anti-democratic.

Now Pino is gone. And that wouldn't have happened were it not for the Daily Business Review's reporting. But you also have to give credit to the Miami Herald, which aggressively followed the story. The newspaper -- anchored by reporters Mark Caputo, Tere Figueras Negrete and Fineout -- even interviewed DBR editor David Lyons about the story after Pino claimed it was "way off." Without the Herald's weight, Crist and Co. might have been able to ignore the DBR story.

It's eerily similar to the O'Neal Dozier affair. Again it was the Herald that jumped on that story, put its own stamp on it, advanced it, and led to the impact. If the Herald keeps this kind of thing up, if it starts using its powers for good, why, it could become a great newspaper again.

In the end, we're all part of the Fourth Estate, no matter what cold, heartless corporation happens to pay our bills. If we're not trying to make things better, we shouldn't be in this damn business. And lately things have gotten just a little better.

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