CLEVELAND — Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist Connie Schultz resigned from The Plain Dealer in Cleveland on Monday to avoid ethical conflicts as her husband, Democratic U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown, prepares to seek re-election next year.
Schultz explained her decision in a letter to colleagues posted on the newspaper's website.
She said it had become "painfully clear" to her in recent weeks that her professional and personal independence "is possible only if I'm no longer writing for the newspaper that covers my husband's Senate race on a daily basis."
Schultz apologized in early September for her column about a tea party event featuring a potential Republican challenger to Brown, state Treasurer Josh Mandel. She had not mentioned Mandel's appearance at the event and she said that was a mistake.
"I'm sorry I didn't let you know Mandel showed up," she wrote.
Reader response was mixed, according to Editor Debra Adams Simmons.
"Many readers came to her defense, others thought she crossed a line," Simmons told The Associated Press in an email. "Connie made the decision to leave The Plain Dealer to preserve her personal and professional independence."
Schultz won a Pulitzer for commentary in 2005.
Brown is in the fifth year of his first Senate term. When he ran for the Senate in 2006, Schultz took a leave of absence from the newspaper, telling readers, "It's time to do what feels right."
She wrote at the time that she was becoming more limited in her choice of column topics because she could be accused of campaigning for her husband.
She published a memoir about that campaign, "... and His Lovely Wife" about her travels across Ohio with Brown.
Schultz told colleagues in her farewell note that she is writing another book and would continue to write essays for Parade magazine, which appears in The Plain Dealer.
"I'll continue to focus on issues of social and economic justice. I'm weighing other options, and look forward to what comes next," she said.
Schultz, who worked for the paper for nearly 18 years, thanked The Plain Dealer for taking a chance on "a 36-year-old newly single mother who had spent 15 years writing freelance stories from my kitchen table."
Simmons said her departure would be a loss for the paper. "Connie is one of the most talented journalists in Plain Dealer history. Her 2005 Pulitzer Prize is testament to her work," Simmons said.