Stories

The IRE Resource Center is a major research library containing more than 27,000 investigative stories.

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

Search results for "FOI request" ...

  • Luxuries on public dime

    Based on public financial records obtained through an FOI request, a Belleville News-Democrat investigation found that more than $230,000 was spent on a taxpayer-supported American Express card over four years used by East St. Louis Township Supervisor Oliver Hamilton. He used the card to buy construction materials, take Las Vegas trips, purchase gas for his private vehicle, and buy dinners and gifts for political friends. Hamilton pleaded guilty to federal charges for misusing public funds.
  • School Desegregation Orders

    The highest performing school district in the state of Florida, St. Johns County schools, still has an open desegregation order. I submitted FOI requests with the U.S. Department of Education, the U.S. Department of Justice, the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Florida and the St. Johns County school district to obtain records and information needed for the story. Records show currently the majority of students in the St. Johns County school district are white but the district is now fully integrated and complies with the federal order. I learned that that the federal government has been inconsistent in its monitoring of the open desegregation orders in Florida. After my story aired, the St. Johns County school district has said they are working with the federal government to have the desegregation order closed.
  • BGA: Freedom of Information

    The Better Government Association is a strong backer of First Amendment issues and works hard to ensure public assess to government. This is a collection of BGA's investigative stories using FOI requests in 2014.
  • 1033 program

    Over the past year, MuckRock reporter and projects editor Shawn Musgrave investigated the Pentagon’s 1033 program, which distributes excess military equipment to law enforcement agencies nationwide. After the Department of Defense rejected FOIA requests for data indicating which departments had received tactical equipment such as assault rifles, armored vehicles, and grenade launchers, Musgrave — spurred by events in Ferguson — submitted FOI requests to each state’s 1033 program coordinator. This effort not only secured this crucial data for 38 states, but also pressured the Pentagon to reverse its position and release spreadsheets which detailed what tactical equipment had been distributed to every participating agency in the country. MuckRock’s investigation of the 1033 program revealed such questionable transfers as mine-resistant vehicles distributed to school districts and helicopters allocated to small-town police departments.
  • TriMet Security Secrets

    KATU ‘s On Your Side Investigators face off against the Transportation Security Administration to protect the public’s right to know whether security cameras safeguarding our nation’s mass transit systems actually work. The three month battle – fought in court and on camera, from Portland to Washington, DC - challenged transit officials’ blanket claim that the TSA had classified all camera maintenance and inspection records as ‘SSI’ – Sensitive Security Information, and thus exempt from public record and FOI requests. KATU’s reporting also rewrote the rules for which documents can and can’t be classified as SSI – resulting in a win for public safety, accountability and government transparency – not just in Portland, but for the entire country.
  • “Leaves of Poison” and “Dying on the Farm”

    More than 75 years ago, the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) was signed into law. A groundbreaking achievement in the fight against child labor, the FLSA banned children from mines and factories, while also granting the Secretary of Labor the authority to protect youth from working in any other hazardous occupations. This series on child labor in agriculture uncovers how loopholes in the law continue to put child farm workers as young as 12 at risk for grave illness, injury, and death. It shows how the agriculture lobby fought back in 2012, blocking new rules that would have closed these loopholes — and that children have died as a result. “Leaves of Poison” focuses on the use of children as young as 12 to harvest tobacco in Southern tobacco fields. Tobacco is a notoriously hazardous crop, exposing field workers to acute nicotine poisoning, with symptoms that can include dizziness, vomiting, difficulty breathing, and heart rate fluctuations requiring hospitalization. The plants are also sprayed with high doses of pesticides, which pose special dangers to adolescents whose nervous systems are still developing. These dangers have led countries such as Russia and Khazakstan to ban minors from tobacco work, and the United States has donated millions to eradicate child tobacco labor overseas. But a proposed rule by the Department of Labor banning children from the harvest (and other particularly “hazardous” tasks) was withdrawn by Obama administration officials in response to concerted lobbying by the American Farm Bureau. “Dying on the Farm” was an ambitious effort to track how many child laborers have died since those rules were scuttled in April 2012, which would have barred them from performing particularly “hazardous” tasks, such as harvesting tobacco, working in manure pits and grain silos, or using heavy power machinery. The investigation shows that child farmworkers “fall through the cracks” when it comes to government tallies of work-related injuries and deaths. Nevertheless, using FOI requests to Occupational Safety and Health Administration and Workers’ Compensation offices, surveying local press clippings, and speaking with medical practitioners who work directly with farmworkers we found that at least four young farm workers-for-hire have been killed and 39 injured while doing these hazardous tasks since the rules were withdrawn. Both “Leaves of Poison” and “Dying on the Farm” movingly tell the personal stories of young workers at a risk.
  • New Haven Police Brutality Investigation

    Members of New Haven’s Latino community approached NBC Connecticut with complaints about Officer Dennis O’Connell with the New Haven Police Department. Several people told us that they were being targeted by the officer, and when they encountered him, they were subjected to brutality which included beatings, verbal abuse, and in one case that we found what appeared to be repeated and potentially unnecessary use of a taser. We spoke with several of the alleged victims as a starting point for our story. From there, we embarked on a series of FOI requests that resulted in hundreds of pages of documents ranging from police reports of the alleged incidents to court settlements between the city of New Haven and alleged victims of Officer O’Connell. We spoke to an expert in criminal justice who, after reading through the police reports and reviewing Officer O’Connell’s file, determined there was a definitive and disturbing pattern. He also determined that based on the lack of disciplinary measures and retraining of the officer, NHPD was ignoring a significant problem within their ranks.
  • TSA Theft

    In the first nationwide investigation into a burgeoning problem of theft within the Transportation Security Administration since its inception in 2003, the ABC News Investigative Team compiled compelling data obtained through FOI requests, an insider’s tell-all, victim stories and its own tracking integrity test at TSA checkpoints that resulted in immediate impact and calls for swift change. The TSA, tasked with protecting the traveling public in the wake of the September 11 attacks, admitted during the course of our investigation that it had quietly fired hundreds of its employees for stealing the belongings of passengers. The ABC News team conducted a tracking integrity test at 10 major airports across the country, each chosen for its history of theft problems (as indicated by FOI data). We purposefully left iPads at TSA security checkpoints. In nine out of ten cases, TSA screening officers did exactly what they were supposed to do and returned the iPad to the ABC News Investigative team. But in one case, our iPad was taken and we tracked it using GPS technology to the home of a TSA officer (the last person our cameras in the Orlando airport also saw handling the device). The investigation resulted in the officer’s dismissal, thousands of responses from viewers across the country, and immediate calls from Senator Chuck Schumer and Congressman John Mica for reform within the agency. The TSA began conducting additional sting operations, during which a TSA officer was caught and fired in December.
  • The battle for V.I. Senate spending records

    The Virgin Islands Daily News battled the Virgin Islands Senate via FOI requests, numerous stories and editorials, and we finally had to file a lawsuit against the legislative body – at a cost of more than $20,000 to our under-10,000 circulation newspaper – before winning access to thousands of records of the senators' spending. As a result, several senators chose not to run for reelection, several were not reelected and the rest have made loud and public pledges of total transparency. The newspaper's scrutiny and reporting on the misuse of public money – as revealed in the documents we obtained – is ongoing.
  • Rápido y Furioso

    In this special edition of the newsmagazine program “Aqui y Ahora” (“Here and Now”), Univision news reports on the drug trade’s violent impact in Mexico, an aspect of the story that is often lost. We are submitting this report for your consideration in the FOI category. Although the hundreds of classified us and Mexican government documents weren’t obtained through a FOI request, we believe our process of gathering and comparing comprehensive information from two different governments, resulted in a story that did “open records and open government” in a unique and revealing way that could not be achieved by simply filing a FOI request.