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 "PACs" ...

  • Michigan State University: Capital expenditure

    This project analyzed 2017 campaign finance data reported by Michigan state lawmakers. The initial intent was to determine how much of those funds came from special interest Political Action Committees rather than individual contributions. It blossomed into 10 stories that looked at such things as the difference in fundraising patterns between men and women, Republicans and Democrats. It ranked the partisanship of the state’s PACs, the largest PAC donors, the lawmakers who received the most and least, those who used the most of their own money and those who used no money at all. It discovered that the NRA spends very little on individual state lawmakers and those who break campaign finance laws rarely get hefty fines.
  • FreshPAC

    In late September 2015, WAMU 88.5 reporter Patrick Madden uncovered the existence of a local political action committee that was exploiting a loophole to raise unlimited funds to support the mayor. The PAC was founded by close allies of the mayor, including her campaign treasurer. Over the next three months, Madden's dogged reporting on the PAC would raise questions about pay-to-play, the PAC's ties to a billion dollar power company merger and ultimately cause organizers to disband the group after public outcry.
  • What Voters Don't Know: Tales of Campaign Finance Subterfuge

    It's easier now than ever for political candidates and their parties to take in and spend huge amounts money in perfectly legal, aboveboard transactions -- and for others to do so on their behalf. Still, there's plenty going on in the world of political money that intentionally is kept in the shadows, whether in the name of monetary or political profit, to keep benefactors' roles secret or simply to fatten a candidate's campaign fund with creative accounting. All of this activity keeps crucial information from the voting public. The Center for Responsive Politics' entry of five stories that sheds light on several different political money schemes that twisted the standard template of candidates, PACs and parties raising and spending funds and reporting details of those activities to regulators.
  • Puppet States: Where the Money Went

    While the impact of the U.S. Supreme Court’s 'Citizens United' decision to deregulate campaign finance laws has been well noted in federal elections, the effect it’s had on state level elections has been virtually ignored. In its yearlong "Puppet States" investigation, the Center for Public Integrity systematically examined the new radical reordering of campaign finance in 2012 state level elections to assess the impact of Citizens United.
  • Follow the Unlimited Money

    The Sunlight Foundation Reporting Group tracked the outside spending by groups unleashed by the Citizens United Supreme Court decision, and made it easier for others to Follow the Unlimited Money as well. The centerpiece of the effort was an online database that tracked, in real time, the latest data released by the Federal Election Commission on super PACs, nonprofits, labor unions and other groups that spent money to influence elections. Our in house team of reporters used data from the database to break stories and write in-depth pieces; we also made the database publicly available on the Web and helped hundreds of journalists use it, running the gamut from major television networks such as CBS and MSNBC to newer media entrants such as Gawker and BuzzFeed and numerous local outlets. The database and the reporting derived from it provided information on outside spending groups--including super PACs and the donors that funded them and the nonprofits that don’t disclose donors--and the races they tried to influence.
  • The Year in Closed Government

    The Year in Closed Government encompasses seven months of tough reporting, exhaustive research and dozens of public-records requests, culminating in a sweeping exposé of public officials’ attempts to evade public scrutiny and undermine public-records laws under New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez, who campaigned in 2010 on a promise to restore transparency in government. Our IRE entry includes only a selection of our print and online reporting on the issue of open government in New Mexico. It begins in July, with our first big story on a massive trove of leaked emails that revealed the extent to which public officials were using private email to conduct state business, in an apparent attempt to hide it from the public record. Our reporting on open-government issues extends to the 2012 elections, during which we delved into the close relationships among political action committees, super PACs, campaign managers and candidates connected to Gov. Martinez. Our entry ends with a December cover story that encompasses the entire series and offers unprecedented insight into the degree to which New Mexico's public officials sought to hide important information from the public.
  • Buying the Election

    “Never Mind the Super PACs: How Big Business Is Buying the Election” investigates previously unreported ways that businesses have taken advantage of the Supreme Court’s Citizens United ruling, which overturned a century of campaign finance law and allowed corporations to spend directly on behalf of candidates. The piece debunks a common misperception that businesses have taken advantage of their new political spending powers primarily through so-called Super PACs. In fact, most Super PAC donations have come from extremely wealthy individuals, not corporations. The investigation shows how corporations have instead used a variety of 501(c) nonprofits, primarily 501(c)(6) “trade associations,” to direct substantial corporate money on federal elections. As one prominent advisor to GOP candidates as well as corporations points out, "many corporations will not risk running ads on their own," for fear of the reputational damage, but the trade groups make these ad buys nearly anonymous. In 2010, 501(c)(6) trade associations and 501(c)(4) issue-advocacy groups outspent Super PACs $141 million to $65 million. The investigation shows that the growth of trade association political spending has had a number of significant ramifications, such as increased leverage during beltway lobbying campaigns. Most troublingly, legal loopholes allow foreign interests to use trade associations to directly influence American elections. One of the most significant revelations in the piece was that the American Petroleum Institute, a trade association for the oil and gas industry, had funneled corporate cash to groups that had run hard-hitting campaign ads while being led in part by a lobbyist for the Saudi Arabian government, Tofiq Al-Gabsani. As an API board member, Al-Gabsani was part of the team that directed these efforts, which helped defeat candidates who supported legislation that would move American energy policy away from its focus on fossil fuels. Federal law prevents Al-Gabsani, as a foreign national, from leading a political action committee, or PAC. But nothing in the law stopped him from leading a trade group that made campaign expenditures just as a PAC would.
  • Legislature: Money: Funding, expenses reported; Politicians find ways to finance campaigns; Agriculture, energy leading PACs; Lawyers, energy executives top list of donors; Tribes favoring Dems in giving; Contributions used for rent

    WOrld reporters were able to show how campaign contributions are directed to a few legislative leaders and how little documentation of expenditures is required. They also were able to identify large contributors and, in some cases, get them to talk about their motivations. Reporters found a couple of national organizations that had circumvented the state's reporting laws, and that a lot of legislators either don't know the rules or don't pay much attention to them.
  • Outsourcing the Pentagon

    This study examined $900 billion in defense contracts in the six fiscal years between 1998 and 2003. After assembling Pentagon databases into a single table of 2.2 million records, the study identified and profiled defense department contractors who received at least $100 million between fiscal years 1998 and 2003. Among other findings, no-bid contracts accounted for 40 percent of the Pentagon's business in that time period.
  • Secret lottery foundation/ governor's house

    The Register investigates the political and business activities of Don Siegelman, Alabama's governor. Part of the stories focus on "secret fund-raising activities by the governor through what was thought to be a dormant nonprofit foundation to support a state lottery initiative," according to the contest entry summary. The rest of the stories reveal how a longtime supporter of the governor, using his accountant as a straw man, has bought Siegelman's private residence in Montgomery, Ala., for twice its appraised value.