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 "Freedom of Information" ...

  • The Henry Pratt Mass Shooting

    On the afternoon of Feb. 15, disgruntled warehouse employee Gary Martin opened fire during a termination hearing at the Henry Pratt Co. in Aurora, Ill., killing five people and wounding several police officers before being fatally shot by law enforcement. Before police publicly identified Martin, the Tribune learned his name from sources and began investigating his background. One thing quickly became clear: Martin, a convicted felon who had served prison time for attempting to kill his girlfriend, never should have been allowed to purchase the gun used in the shooting. This discovery – aided by carefully worded Freedom of Information Act requests, unparalleled sourcing and a review of extensive court records – prompted the Illinois State Police to disclose hundreds of pages of documents related to Martin’s firearms license and gun purchase within days of the shooting. It was an unprecedented release of information, in terms of both expediency and subject manner. Illinois law expressly prohibits the disclosure of records related to firearm owner’s identification cards or concealed carried permits, but Tribune reporters were able to convince law-enforcement officials that Martin’s firearms history should be exempt from such protections because he fraudulently obtained his license by lying on his permit application. Upon receiving this information, reporters submitted further FOIAs in an effort to understand the depths of the state’s problem. A reporting project that started within hours of a mass shooting grew into an investigation that found 34,000 Illinois had their gun permits revoked – and that the state has no idea what happen to their guns. That meant 78 percent of people stripped of their gun licenses failed to account for their weapons. The responsive records – some of which required difficult fights and keen sourcing to obtain - exposed serious flaws in the national databases relied upon to conduct criminal background checks, as well as the state’s failure to ensure that people surrender their weapons after their Firearm Owner's Identification cards are revoked. In an analysis of data released for the first time, the Tribune found as many as 30,000 guns may still be in possession of people deemed too dangerous to own firearms. The Tribune also was able to create an online-lookup that allowed readers to look up how many people in their town had their gun permits stripped, the reason for the revocation and how many times that person had made a serious inquiry about purchasing a gun.
  • Reuters: Immigration under Trump

    Over the last two years, the Trump administration has driven rapid and unprecedented change to the United States immigration system, implementing tougher apprehension, prosecution and detention policies for migrants who come to the country illegally. Reuters has stayed ahead of policy changes, often breaking exclusive news before official announcements. We have also used data to expose where administration policies have failed and to highlight inequities in the system. In these stories, we have relied heavily on a Department of Justice database known as the Case Management System. Reuters obtains the data set, which is used by the DOJ’s Executive Office for Immigration Review to schedule all court appearances, through monthly Freedom of Information Act requests.
  • Reuters: Immigration under Trump

    Over the last two years, the Trump administration has driven rapid and unprecedented change to the United States immigration system, implementing tougher apprehension, prosecution and detention policies for migrants who come to the country illegally. Reuters has stayed ahead of policy changes, often breaking exclusive news before official announcements. We have also used data to expose where administration policies have failed and to highlight inequities in the system. In these stories, we have relied heavily on a Department of Justice database known as the Case Management System. Reuters obtains the data set, which is used by the DOJ’s Executive Office for Immigration Review to schedule all court appearances, through monthly Freedom of Information Act requests.
  • DFP: Trooper tases teen on ATV. Police video reveals what happens next

    Readers had known about the tragic death of 15-year-old Damon Grimes, who crashed his ATV while running from State Police in Detroit. People knew a trooper had been charged with murder after leaning out of his patrol car to use his Taser on Grimes, causing the crash. But the details were limited. That’s until the Free Press used the Freedom of Information Act to obtain documents, raw video and radio broadcasts to reconstruct the scene before, during and after the accident. In a published story and never-before-seen video, the newspaper shined a spotlight on the actions of police that day. The video was made by piecing together hours of video and audio footage from police body cameras, dashboard cameras, surveillance tape and broadcasts. A Detroit officer whose inappropriate comments were caught on the video was reassigned.
  • AJC: Atlanta City Hall Investigation

    Former Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed’s administration illegally withheld public records from voters and City Council until The Atlanta Journal-Constitution forced them open, revealing $800,000 in improperly awarded employee bonuses and cash prizes, charges to city credit cards for personal entertainment and travel, and runaway spending on outside attorneys close to the mayor. The AJC also found that Reed withheld from the public and council the scope of the federal corruption investigation at City Hall, and concealed a six-figure settlement with an airport official who he fired and who later accused him of steering contracts.
  • How Atlanta Trampled the Public’s Right to Know: An AJC/WSB-TV Investigation

    In 2018, The AJC and WSB-TV revealed how the Kasim Reed administration illegally acted to withhold public records from the public and Atlanta City Council, doctored legal invoices to conceal the cost of a federal corruption investigation, withheld government documents to hide the scope of the corruption probe and concealed a six-figure settlement with a fired airport official.
  • Food Plight: Cafeteria Inspections Reveal Critical Health Violations at New York City Schools

    Our reporters scoured reams of health inspection records and discovered that nearly half of New York City public school cafeterias were hit with at least one critical violation in 2017. A closer look found that the four dozen schools with the worst inspections records largely serve some of the city’s poorest students. The most sickening cases include schools where 600 rodent droppings and 1,500 flies were found in food preparation and consumption areas – conditions that are breeding grounds for potentially dangerous food-borne illnesses. Our team of students conceived of the story and used the data, obtained from the New York City Health Department under New York’s Freedom of Information Law, to create a filterable interactive graphic that parents can use to uncover details of violations found at their child’s school.
  • Holding the Pentagon Accountable

    In 2016, Washington Post reporter Craig Whitlock surmounted the Pentagon's Byzantine bureaucracy and near-epidimic secrecy to reveal epic examples of military corruption and waste. Drawing on years of Pentagon beat reporting experience and deft use of the Freedom of Information Act, Whitlock exposed several scandals that defense officials fought to conceal from the public.
  • Exposing Waste, Fraud And Corruption

    The Better Government Association is a nonpartisan, nonprofit government watchdog that's been around for more than 90 years exposing waste, fraud and corruption in Chicago and throughout Illinois. The Illinois Freedom of Information Act is a key component of our work, not only for our investigations team, which regularly enlists FOIA to access and analyze public records, but also for the BGA's legal and policy units.
  • Medicare Advantage Overcharges

    During 2015, Center for Public Integrity senior reporter Fred Schulte produced a dozen articles based mainly on previously secret government audits, including emails and other internal documents, released over the course of the year under a court order in our Freedom of Information Act lawsuit. Schulte revealed that federal officials repeatedly recognized that some health plans appeared to be ripping off Medicare by exaggerating how sick their patients were, but they failed to demand refunds, discipline the health plans, or curb other wasteful spending in the politically powerful Medicare Advantage program.