Edward T. Pound: “A Gruff, Salty-Tongued Reporter Who Exposed Corruption Among Politicians and Olympic Officials”

From a Washington Post obit by Matt Schudel headlined “Edward T. Pound, tenacious ‘old school’ investigative reporter, dies at 77”:

Edward T. Pound, a gruff, salty-tongued reporter whose investigations led to the resignations of judges and a Cabinet member and who exposed corruption among politicians and Olympic officials, died July 25 in Rockville, Md….

Mr. Pound, who began his career in the Midwest before moving to Washington in the 1970s, and worked at several news organizations, including the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, USA Today and U.S. News & World Report, was invariably described as an “old-school” reporter with a heightened sense of responsibility for holding public servants accountable.

“Ed was certainly the best investigative reporter I ever knew or worked with,” Brian Duffy, the former top editor of U.S. News & World Report, said. “He saw things that offended him ethically or morally and was driven to clean up the mess of the world.”

He was sometimes called — not always admiringly — the “Pound Dog” for what another colleague called his tenacious “bulldog mentality.”

“He was a real throwback, a character out of ‘The Front Page,’ ” Gordon Witkin, a former reporter at U.S. News & World Report, said. “He was an absolutely relentless reporter. He seemed personally enraged by public malfeasance and corruption by public officials.”

While working for the Telegraph in Alton, Ill., in the 1960s, Mr. Pound uncovered a scandal at the Illinois state Supreme Court, which led to the resignation of the chief justice and an associate justice. He moved on to Chicago, where he reported on the city’s notorious corruption and the political machine controlled by Mayor Richard J. Daley.

In 1977, Mr. Pound joined the Washington Star, then two years later moved on to the Washington bureau of the New York Times. From 1982 to 1993, he was at the Wall Street Journal, where he led investigations of the Iran-contra scandal and corruption at the Department of Housing and Urban Development….

After the first of two stints at U.S. News & World Report, Mr. Pound joined USA Today in 2001….

“He arrived at USA Today,” a former colleague, Kevin Johnson, wrote, “as if straight out of central casting — an old school reporter whose military bearing, brush haircut, sharp wardrobe and serious gaze exuded authority and immediately won him the nickname, ‘The Colonel.’ ”

Even after “casual Friday” started, Mr. Pound wore a jacket and tie to the office every day. He led several high-profile investigations at USA Today, including stories surrounding the impeachment of President Bill Clinton, FBI agent and convicted spy Robert Hanssen, and allegations of bribery and graft among Olympic officials.

Mr. Pound “made a serious impression on longtime International Olympic Committee President Juan Antonio Samaranch,” recalled Johnson….

Afterward, Johnson noted, Samaranch told an assistant, “How could you bring these . . . German shepherds into my office?”

In another USA Today investigation, Mr. Pound reported on alleged misconduct by a high-ranking official of the U.S. Postal Service. When a Postal Service spokesperson called to complain, Mr. Pound listened politely, then put an end to the conversation by saying, “I’ll write the stories, you stick to selling stamps.”

Mr. Pound returned to U.S. News & World Report from 2001 to 2007, where colleagues heard him ask a senator suspected of ethical violations, “Is it true you used campaign funds to bury your mother?”

From 2007 to 2009, Mr. Pound was at National Journal, where he led another investigation that became known as “HUD II.” He revealed that Alphonso Jackson, George W. Bush’s second HUD secretary, was under investigation by the FBI, a federal grand jury and HUD’s inspector general for giving jobs to friends and for denying federal contracts to people critical of the Bush administration.

Few other news organizations followed Mr. Pound’s lead, but the revelations ultimately led to Jackson’s resignation in 2008.

“I was pretty much out there on my own,” Mr. Pound said, adding: “A lot of this was digging and talking to people in HUD or who’d left HUD. It’s nothing fancy.”

Edward Thomas Pound was born Sept. 4, 1943, in St. Louis….He spent two years at Southern Illinois University before joining the St. Louis Post-Dispatch as a “copy boy.” He later landing reporting jobs in Mount Carmel, Ill., and later Alton. He was at the Chicago Sun-Times from about 1972 to 1977.

He won numerous awards throughout his career, but he frequently changed jobs, at least in part because of his argumentative nature and his difficult relationships with editors — some of whom he flatly refused to work with.

“Everyone will tell you that Ed had a bit of a problem with authority,” Witkin said, “and that was part of his charm.”

After leaving National Journal in 2009, Mr. Pound worked for the federal Recovery Accountability and Transparency Board, Al Jazeera America, Taxpayers for Common Sense and for the Office of the D.C. Auditor, from which he retired in 2018….

In a 2007 interview with National Journal, Mr. Pound reflected on his career as an investigative reporter.

“My attitude,” he said, “is that every day you come into work, you might hit the big one.”

Matt Schudel has been an obituary writer at The Washington Post since 2004. He previously worked for publications in Washington, New York, North Carolina and Florida.

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