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Extra Extra Monday: Secrecy for sale, a drone deal sealed in blood, bad business loans and ad rates that don't add up

Secrecy for Sale: Inside the Global Offshore Money Maze | ICIJ
“A cache of 2.5 million files has cracked open the secrets of more than 120,000 offshore companies and trusts, exposing hidden dealings of politicians, con men and the mega-rich the world over. The secret records obtained by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists lay bare the names behind covert companies and private trusts in the British Virgin Islands, the Cook Islands and other offshore hideaways.”

A Secret Deal on Drones, Sealed in Blood | The New York Times
"The C.I.A.’s covert drone war in Pakistan began with the 2004 killing of a Pashtun militant, the result of a secret deal that was a turning point in the agency’s fight against terrorism."

Botched ATF sting in Milwaukee ensnares brain-damaged man | Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
"ATF agents running an undercover storefront in Milwaukee used a brain-damaged man with a low IQ to set up gun and drug deals, paying him in cigarettes, merchandise and money, according to federal documents obtained by Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reporters John Diedrich and Raquel Rutledge. For more than six months, federal agents relied on Chauncey Wright to promote "Fearless Distributing" by handing out fliers as he rode his bike around town recommending the store to friends, family and strangers, according to federal prosecutors and family members. Once authorities shut down the operation, they charged the 28-year-old man with federal gun and drug counts. Prosecutors believe Wright is a vulnerable person. Prosecutors threatened a co-defendant with stiffer penalties for "taking advantage" of Wright, according to the email. But as the situation unfolded, it was ATF agents who were taking advantage of Wright."

Donors behind millions in N.J. political contributions kept secret, analysis finds | The Star-Ledger
"A nationwide survey and an analysis of New Jersey political contributions by Christopher Baxter of The Star-Ledger found campaigns in the Garden State are allowed to accept more money without disclosing the names of donors than those in any other state. As a result, the origins of millions of dollars of contributions are kept secret every year. Campaign finance experts are now calling for change."

U-T political ad rates don’t add up | KPBS/inewsource
“inewsource and KPBS audited ads in the U-T every day between Labor Day and Election Day 2012 and compared the list with campaign finance records. The results show varied payments for ads, indicating the U-T may have offered bargains to the anti-Filner campaign and to other candidates and issues the newspaper endorsed.”

Welcome to IRE's roundup of the weekend’s many enterprise stories from around the country. We'll highlight the document digging, field work and data analysis that made their way into centerpieces in print, broadcast and online from coast to coast. Did we miss something? Email tips to web@ire.org

Taxpayers paid $1.3B to cover bad business loans| Dayton Daily News
“Lax federal oversight dating back years allowed lenders to repeatedly make bad loans to small businesses under a government program that has cost taxpayers $1.3 billion since 2000 on defaulted loans, a Dayton Daily News investigation found.”

How Walmart, ExxonMobil, and Coke Buy Latino Friends in Congress | Mother Jones
“Lobbyists and corporations that employ them can't give gifts to lawmakers—unless they funnel the money through a non-profit.”

State still shelling out millions to workers on paid administrative leave | Chicago Tribune
“The Tribune reported in October that the state regularly pays employees not to work, even as it faces wide budget gaps and service cutbacks. The paper's analysis found that, since 2007, more than 2,000 employees received their usual pay to stay home, amassing $23 million in state wages. More than five months after that report, the numbers remain troubling. For example, a Tribune analysis of state records from late February showed that 10 employees, including Campuzano, had been on leave for more than a year. Last fall, there were two.”

Coal-backed studies evoke controversy | The Gazette-Mail
"Company-backed reports are pointing out some potential flaws in earlier research. They also are generating questions of their own, in part because industry's role in funding the work has not been clearly disclosed."

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