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Stories

The IRE Resource Center is a major research library containing more than 26,000 investigative stories.

Most of our stories are not available for download but can be easily ordered by contacting the Resource Center directly at 573-882-3364573-882-3364  or rescntr@ire.org where a researcher can help you pinpoint what you need.



Search results for "state records" ...

  • Diplomatic Drivers

    Driving more than 100 mph. Hit and runs. Multiple DUIs. They were all considered classified state secrets until Tisha Thompson spent six years successfully fighting for diplomatic driving records never before released to the public. You can’t drive anywhere in Washington, DC without spotting the distinctive red and blue tags of foreign diplomats. In 2008, Thompson filed a FOIA with the US Department of State requesting driving records of any diplomat pulled over for violating our local traffic laws. Several years later, she was told her FOIA had become “one of the oldest, if not the oldest” in the agency’s system because it could be a potential diplomatic relations problem. Thompson used a combination of traditional and creative ways to get FOIA information not just from the federal government but also from a long list of local and state jurisdictions. And the results were stunning.

    Tags: diplomats; traffic; violations; us department of state

    By Tisha Thompson; Steve Jones; Rick Yarborough; Mike Goldrick

    WRC-TV NBC4 Washington

    2014

  • Sex and sabotage

    Through an extensive use of Oklahoma's Open Records Act, the Journal Record obtained emails, text messages and records of telephone calls that told how two Department of Environmental Quality staff members conspired with a state legislator to torpedo the agency's funding. The records show the lawmaker was romantically entangled with one agency official and also showed the agency's executive director sexually harassed other agency employees and promoted employees who were not qualified.

    Tags: oklahoma; Open Records Act; Department of Environmental Quality

    By M. Scott Carter

    Oklahoma Watch

    2014

  • Addicted Nurses, a statewide investigation

    A yearlong investigation by The News Leader started with a database hand built from thousands of pages of disciplinary records and expanded into interviews with addicted nurses themselves and dozens of experts. The team found that 900 nurses statewide have been publicly disciplined since 2007 for stealing patients narcotics or using drugs (even more are in confidential treatment). Many of the nurses went back to seeing patients during a poorly managed monitoring program, or sometimes the state just lost track of them altogether. The investigation and deep explanation of the problem, with stories of the struggles of individual nurses, is leading to change statewide, including the governor's call for a background check law for nursing license applicants and his proposal to add funding to the Board of Nursing.

    Tags: narcotics; Nurses; addiction; substance abuse; treatment

    By Patricia Borns; William Ramsey; Jennie Coughlin;

    The News Leader

    2014

  • Legislative Spending

    The Morning Call created Pennsylvania’s first-ever map-based online database that sheds a light on how the state’s 253 lawmakers spent at least $13.8 million in taxpayer money in 2013. The result of The Morning Call’s efforts, Watchdog Report: Legislative Spending, published in three stories and accompanied by online maps and records, is nothing short of a virtual audit. It is the only place taxpayers – and lawmakers themselves -- can go to see how 203 representatives and 50 senators spent money because the Legislature has never done a similar in-depth audit. The stories and database allows users to compare how much lawmakers spent on anything they want, from office rents to meals to hotels to a private consultant who promoted a lawmaker’s acting gig. With such leeway and latitude, it’s easy to see why the Legislature wants to keep spending records from the public eye.

    Tags: taxpayers; database; Pennsylvania; state government; map

    By Steve Esack; Eugene Tauber

    The Morning Call

    2014

  • Nazi Social Security

    Dozens of suspected Nazi war criminals and SS guards collected millions of dollars in U.S. Social Security benefits after being forced out of the United States, an Associated Press investigation found. The payments, underwritten by American taxpayers, flowed through a legal loophole that gave the U.S. Justice Department leverage to persuade Nazi suspects to leave the U.S. If they agreed to go, or simply fled before deportation, they could keep their Social Security, according to interviews and internal U.S. government records. Social Security benefits became tools, U.S. diplomatic officials said, to secure agreements in which Nazi suspects would accept the loss of citizenship and voluntarily leave the United States.

    Tags: Nazi; Social Security; Justice Department; loophole; FBI

    By David Rising; Randy Herschaft; Richard Lardner

    Associated Press

    2014

  • The Record: Investigating the Port Authority

    Shawn Boburg's reporting on the Port Authority resulted in two eye-opening stories that garnered international attention: one that revealed the hidden origins of a secret deal involving the naming rights of the World Trade Center; another that unraveled the true cause of a vindictive traffic jam orchestrated by Governor Chris Christie's loyalists and directed at one of his political enemies. Boburg found that the naming rights of the World Trade Center, one of the country's most iconic symbols, was sold in 1986 to a nonprofit that was run by a retiring Port Authority executive. Guy Tozzoli made millions of dollars from the deal, which went unnoticed for decades until Boburg's story prompted an investigation by the New York State Attorney General. Boburg also produced a series of investigative stories that challenged the official line about lane closures near the world's busiest bridge, eventually uncovering e-mails that linked the closures to the governor's office and forcing Christie to apologize and get rid of key advisors. Aside from a series of news breaks that kept the pressure on for months, Boburg was also the first to report on the e-mails that sent shockwaves through the Christie administration.

    Tags: Chris Christie; World Trade Center

    By Shawn Boburg

    The Record (New Jersey)

    2013

  • What Happened to Kendrick Johnson?

    For eight hours a day, six days a week, two grieving parents stand on a South Georgia street corner with homemade signs, family photos and a question: “What Happened to Kendrick Johnson?” January 10, 2013, their 17-year-old son disappeared between classes at his Valdosta high school. The next morning, the three-sport star’s body was found upside down in a rolled mat in the school’s gym. Within hours of finding Johnson’s body, local investigators determined his death was an accident. A state medical examiner agreed and the case was closed. The teenager’s parents never believed the official story but their pleas for outside officials to investigate were ignored. CNN’s Victor Blackwell was the first television correspondent outside the Johnson’s small community to report the story. As other national and international news organizations began to take interest in the story, CNN continued to lead. Blackwell and CNN producer Devon Sayers literally traveled across the country searching for answers. They were the first or only team to report more than 40 major developments in the story. CNN has filed nearly two-dozen requests for open records. Despite strong resistance from local officials, CNN has exposed internal finger-pointing over withheld evidence and a compromised investigation, missing body parts and suspicious holes in school surveillance footage, which CNN successfully sued to obtain. After CNN’s more than 20 reports, each offering exclusive details, the Department of Justice launched a federal investigation into Johnson’s death and the sheriff’s handling of the case. The Georgia Secretary of State’s Office also launched an investigation into a local funeral home’s treatment of Johnson’s corpse. Those investigations are ongoing. Beyond reporting the details of a bizarre and emotional story, CNN’s continued coverage of the circumstances surrounding the death of Kendrick Johnson fulfills a core mission of journalism: It holds those in power accountable.

    Tags: None

    By Victor Blackwell

    CNN

    2013

  • Moms: Hospital Killed Our Kids

    The outside of the Kentucky Children's Hospital is all colorful paintings and smiling photos, but inside there's a dark secret. Connor Wilson was the first to die, on August 30, at six months old. His parents, while heartbroken, didn't think anything was amiss until another baby in the same ward, Rayshawn Lewis-Smith, died. Then they found out Waylon Rainey, also on the cardiac surgery floor, coded and was on life support and a fourth baby, Jaxon Russell needed a second surgery at another hospital to fix a heart surgery he'd had a Kentucky Children's. All of these events happened within eight weeks, after which the hospital closed its cardiac surgery program and placed its chief surgeon on leave. When the parents asked the hospital questions, the hospital wouldn't answer them. When a local reporter started asking questions, the hospital sued her. When the state Attorney General asked these same basic questions - how many pediatric heart surgeries they did, their mortality rates - the hospital refused to hand over the data. When the AG ruled they were in violation of state law by not releasing their data, the hospital appealed the ruling. Now the hospital says they plan to re-open their pediatric cardiac surgery program, and these parents are up in arms. How could the hospital possibly open back up with this kind of track record, without even releasing the most basic safety data, which many other hospitals release all the time? And why haven't state or federal regulators rushed in to stop the program from re-opening - they haven't even opened an investigation. Elizabeth Cohen investigates.

    Tags: Kentucky Children's Hospital; child abuse; cardiac surgery

    By Elizabeth Cohen

    CNN

    2013

  • Exhausted at School

    Gaze out the windows of John Marshall Junior High in Seattle and you will see cars and trucks whizzing by on the busiest freeway in the state, Interstate 5. John Marshall is one of 28 public schools and more than 125 day cares that InvestigateWest has found built within 500 feet of Washington’s highest-traffic roadways. That’s close enough to put children’s health at risk, say health researchers. For “Exhausted at School,” InvestigateWest combined data from multiple state agencies and pored over dozens of academic studies to understand the threat of toxic pollution and its effect on kids’ health at school. Our reporting immediately spurred Seattle Schools officials to action: they added a new policy to issue air quality alerts to principals, and announced plans to upgrade a decades-old ventilation system at John Marshall. Officials in Olympia and Washington, D.C., considered and then rejected the notion of banning or severely restricting construction of schools inside the pollution plume, according to interviews and records obtained by InvestigateWest. Meanwhile, state officials do not enforce rules requiring day cares to be built on environmentally safe sites. So schools and day cares continue to be built in the danger zone around freeways, and children pay the price – years after the dangers were conclusively proven. “Exhausted at School” is a collaboration between InvestigateWest and KING 5 Television.

    Tags: High school;

    By Olivia Henry; Kate Martin; Chris Ingalls

    InvestigateWest

    2013

  • Boeing’s Lobbying Campaign

    “Boeing’s Lobbying Campaign" uses public records to trace how The Boeing Co.’s lobbying killed a long-overdue correction to an obscure but important formula used to determine how much water pollution is allowed under the Clean Water Act. The lobbying by a Boeing senior executive, InvestigateWest showed, reached all the way to Gov. Christine Gregoire. After the Washington Department of Ecology had withstood challenges to its plans to tighten the water-pollution rules from the powerful timber and business industries during the 2012 legislative session, Boeing had the juice to quietly short-circuit those plans a few months later. The company went around Ecology to the governor, as InvestigateWest’s timeline of documents and emails made clear. Our reporting was carried in newspapers around the state, sparking reporting and editorials by other news organizations on the previously low-profile issue. Environmentalists also cited the series in a lawsuit against the EPA. Because we elevated this issue into public consciousness, reporters were all over the story when Boeing again tried to delay the changes in the 2013 legislative session, nearly causing a government shutdown. A new draft rule tightening the standards is due out in March 2014.

    Tags: Boeing; water pollution;

    By Robert McClure; Olivia Henry

    InvestigateWest

    2013