Susan Schmidt ’75 knew from the first phone call that it was going to be a big story, but she did not know just how big. She got a tip from a respected lobbyist in fall 2003 asking her to investigate United States political lobbyist Jack Abramoff. In April 2006, Schmidt and her colleagues James Grimaldi and R. Jeffrey Smith won a Pulitzer Prize for reporting in The Washington Post about Abramoff’s corruption, embezzlement, and bribery of American Indian tribes and public officials.
Schmidt, an English major who logged 25 years at The Post, received her first Pulitzer in 2002 as part of a team — which included Bob Woodward — who reported on U.S. intelligence pre-9/11 about the possibility of terrorist attacks. She also co-authored Truth at Any Cost, a best-selling book about the inner workings of the Monica Lewinsky investigation.
“The interesting stories — and that they’re always changing — are what keeps me driven,” said Schmidt, who also worked as a reporter at The Wall Street Journal before launching a private investigative research firm with a colleague in 2009. “What I enjoy most is the investigation, the work, reconstructing the events and tying pieces together. The chance that it might win an award is gravy.”