Former state legislator Cal Skinner and the publisher of the Northwest Herald newspaper are dropping their lawsuits against one another over a blog claiming the newspaper was “in the back pocket” of local Republicans.
Under a settlement expected to be approved in court next month, neither side will admit wrongdoing and no money for damages, court costs or legal fees will be exchanged.
“Basically both sides believe that this particular dispute does not belong in a court of law, but rather the court of public opinion,” Skinner attorney Patrick Ouimet said.
Don Craven, attorney for B.F. Shaw Printing Co., said the suit already had served its purpose, which was to defend the newspaper against Skinner’s claims it was beholden to the local GOP.
“The public record makes clear that the integrity of the newspaper is not in question and, frankly, we didn’t want to spend any more money on this,” Craven said. “Point made, it’s time to move on.”
Shaw sued Skinner last year over a June 3 posting on his mchenrycountyblog that claimed the newspaper received a multimillion-dollar loan from the county in the mid-1980s to build its Crystal Lake headquarters. As a result, Skinner wrote, the newspaper was in the Republican party’s back pocket.
Public records showed that the county did not lend the newspaper money, but did have a financial arrangement with a related real estate partnership. The arrangement allowed the partnership to issue bonds through a private lender and finance some of the project at 80 percent of the prime rate.
Skinner countersued about three weeks later, claiming the newspaper had defamed him and was trying to intimidate him to prevent him from publishing his opinions online.