This investigation was about lies and obfuscation, and the stakes were enormous: A mayor's election, a growing media empire and potentially billions of dollars in development. Our reporting revealed how within months of purchasing the largest media operation in San Diego County, the new owners of U-T San Diego were using their power and status to influence -- and even threaten -- government officials into helping them realize lucrative plans for developing the downtown waterfront. It also illuminated an insidious practice suspected nationwide: use of private electronic accounts to conduct the public's business. Our reporting defined much of the discussion around the mayor's race in the weeks before the election. In the end, the candidate at the heart of the probed was defeated.