Cleveland Plain Dealer Hypes Letter Circulated Against 'Joe the Plumber,' Downplays Partisanship of Signers

June 22nd, 2012 12:22 PM

Update (June 25, 5:48 p.m. EDT): Wurzelbacher has responded in a blog post at RedState, linking to a Smart Girl Politics post which noted that "[o]f the thirty-one signatories [of the anti-Wurzelbacher letter], all but six are registered Democrats or have made financial contributions to Democratic candidates or PACs."

"A viral campaign video in which Samuel 'Joe the Plumber' Wurzelbacher links gun control to the Holocaust has sickened some members of Ohio's Jewish community, who sent the GOP congressional candidate a letter on Thursday that calls his claims 'misguided,' 'highly offensive' and 'harmful to the Jewish community,'" Sabrina Eaton informed readers of the Cleveland Plain Dealer in an article uploaded yesterday evening. In the video in question, Wurzelbacher noted that gun control programs in Turkey and Germany preceded the Armenian genocide of 1915-17 and the Holocaust, respectively.

While Eaton noted Wurzelbacher's defense -- the Republican candidate noted that the gun-rights group Jews for the Preservation of Firearms Ownership agrees with him -- she focused on a 31-signatory letter "put together by Mitch Cronig, a Shaker Heights electrical engineer who himself owns a gun" that criticizes Wurzelbacher for citing the Holocaust in a campaign ad. But in the very next sentence, it seems that the letter is more partisan than first blush:

Others who signed the letter include University of Akron Law School dean Martin H. Belsky, and Stuart Garson, a lawyer who heads the Cuyahoga County Democratic Party.

We're to believe that an ostensibly apolitical electrical engineer who happens to be a gun owner put together the letter when another signer of the letter is the head of the local Democratic Party? Really?!

What's more, Martin Belsky is a prolific donor to local and national Democrats, as a simple search of revealed $15,800 over the past three election cycles (2012, 2010 and 2008). Garson gave $22,800 in the same period of time according to OpenSecrets. A search for Cronig yielded no hits on OpenSecrets, but a search of Facebook yielded a Mitchell Cronig who attended Shaker Heights High School who lists "Support Planned Parenthood Clinics" among his "activities and interests."

Marcy Kaptur is a pro-choice liberal Democrat with generally favorable approval ratings by groups like Planned Parenthood and NARAL.

All of this is NOT to say that Cronig, Belsky, Garson, and others are not truly offended by Joe the Plumber's campaign ad's reference to the Holocaust. But given the liberal and Democratic affiliations of these gentlemen, a skeptical journalist would note that their partisan leanings may have something to do with attacking a Republican candidate waging what is an uphill battle in a heavily Democratic district. As the Toledo Blade noted in March:

The district was designed to be heavily Democratic to ensure safe Republican districts elsewhere in the state. The district voted 66.8 percent for Democrat Barack Obama in the 2008 presidential election and 31.6 percent for Republican John McCain...