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 "Payroll" ...

  • The Tax Windfall

    These reports uncovered how subtle changes in contracts and secret business relationships with government officials led to the elimination of competition for a major vendor in the county’s new tax assessment program. We found that one former tax commissioner, who was integral in creating the program, later became an owner of an assessment firm that benefited from the contracts. A second insider firm, who had hired the father-in-law of the chief county assessor, won 90 percent of the contracts for the towns in the county required to revamp their assessments. That same company also had on its payroll the very same assessor who would be supervising their work in the various towns.
  • The secret world of government debt collection

    CNNMoney’s report, The Secret World of Government Debt Collection, exposes an industry rife with political corruption, aggressive tactics and legal loopholes. In this world, forgotten tolls can snowball into hundreds of dollars in debt and unpaid speeding tickets can land people in jail. We found that thanks to legal exemptions, collectors working for government agencies typically don’t have to follow the main federal law that regulates the debt collection industry, and state consumer protection laws often don’t apply either. All of this opens the door for steep fees that other debt collectors couldn’t dream of charging, and allows them to threaten consequences as dire as arrest. The report focused on one of the industry’s biggest players, Texas-based law firm Linebarger Goggan Blair & Sampson. Through our reporting, we uncovered this little-known firm’s massive influence and controversial political ties. For example, Linebarger spends more on state lobbying than Texas giants Exxon and Halliburton, and it pours millions of dollars into political campaigns. It even has current elected officials on its payroll and has become entangled in multiple bribery scandals. CNNMoney discovered it is also currently linked to an ongoing FBI investigation. But Linebarger continues to rake in lucrative government contracts, making its top executives and founders rich while the debtors it goes after are left scrambling to pay its steep fees. And because firms like Linebarger are powered by government agencies, consumers are left with little recourse.
  • Contract to Cheat

    Contract to Cheat told an overlooked and poorly understood story of a construction industry dominated by companies willing to cheat on the backs of laborers and honest competitors. Using payroll records submitted for federally funded projects, reporters in eight McClatchy papers, the company's D.C. bureau and ProPublica examined the extent of the problem and exposed the government regulators who let it happen.
  • Contract to Cheat

    McClatchy Newspapers is proud to submit "Contract to Cheat" for consideration in the Philip Meyer Journalism awards "Contract to Cheat" relied upon federal payroll records submitted by private companies building public projects. The records enabled reporters to estimate the lost tax revenue associated with the illegal practice of treating workers who should be employees as independent contractors. Tens of thousands of pages of payroll records formed the backbone of our report, while the construction workers and company owners listed on the reports allowed us to capture the human impact of the labor scheme. Wrestling the records into usable and compelling data was a significant - though worthwhile - challenge for McClatchy staff.
  • Public Salary project

    This entry consists of stories culled from a massive request for government compensation from hundreds of government agencies, cities, counties, school, college and special districts. This projects follows the money. The data is made public through data bases on our web sites and culled through by investigative reporter Thomas Peele, who roots out stories from deep in the data, including ones about secret pension boosting perks, officials paid hundreds of thousands of dollars for not working, government managers sitting on huge banks of unused vacation time to cash in at retirement, part-time elected officials who do little work while being paid hundreds of dollars and an hour, long forgotten politicians receiving free life-time government health insurance decades are leaving office. The project routinely ferrets out information about the spending of public money that not even those in charge of government agencies are aware of until Peele tells them: "Wow,” said James Fang, a member of the board of the BART transit district when informed data showed the agencies former general manager, who had resigned two years earlier in the midst if being fired, had remained in the agency's payroll for years, raking in hundreds of thousands of dollars and jacking up her future pension. “She was still on the payroll? I did not know this. It’s startling.”
  • High Price Keeps Sunshine Disclosures In The Dark

    This series of reports exposed evidence of nepotism in the state hiring process in Massachusetts and unfolded into a months-long battle to obtain state hiring records in which employees disclose relatives who are already working for state government. Since 2003, people hired by the state have had to fill out something called a Sunshine Disclosure. These disclosures were intended to shine light on the people getting hired to ensure that nepotism is not taking precedence over the hiring of the most qualified person for a position. But after we attempted to obtain Sunshine Disclosures for the office in which we documented questionable hires, the state sent us a bill for nearly $70,000. We did manage to obtain a smaller sample of Sunshine Disclosures and discovered one in four employees hired did, in fact, already have relatives on the payroll. As a result of our reporting, a state lawmaker is filing a bill to make Sunshine Disclosures more easily accessible to the public. .
  • Pay For The Triggerman: NBC 5 Investigates the Army’s Treatment of the Fort Hood Shooter and His Victims.

    Just hours after we aired the first story in this series it was flashed across the globe by news sites from the Huffington Post, to the Washington Times, and the London Daily Mail. In a matter of days several Congressmen worked to address what NBC 5 Investigates first reported: Major Nidal Hasan the man who shot and killed 13 U.S. soldiers and wounded another 32 at Fort Hood was still on the Army payroll and had received nearly $300,000 from U.S. taxpayers since his arrest. That did not sit well with victims of the attack still struggling to recover financially and emotionally. The Army had denied the victims pay and benefits awarded to other soldiers wounded at U.S. military bases overseas and in the 9/11 attack on the Pentagon. Over the next seven months our coverage continued in-depth over a series of eleven reports uncovering never-before-reported details about the Army’s treatment of the gunman and the victims. V.I.P. style helicopter rides for Hasan to help him work on his defense, his own private office created at Fort Hood, and millions spent on trial preparations during a process that dragged on for nearly four years.
  • Questions of Influence

    This year-long investigation exposed how Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam’s pledge to “run state government like a business” led to some serious ethical shortcomings, including the awarding of tens of millions of dollars in questionable state contracts and a blurring of the lines with a prominent Capitol Hill lobbyist who was on the governor’s personal payroll. The one-hour, prime-time special is the culmination of more than three dozen individual stories that aired throughout the year. Our investigation led to a statewide political debate, legislative hearings, ethics complaints, a scathing state audit, reconsideration of millions of dollars in state contracts and calls for ethics reform that are continuing.
  • America's Great State Payroll Giveaway

    A state-employed psychiatrist in California made $822,000 by clocking in 17 hours every day last year, including Sundays and holidays. An employee cashed out with $609,000 for unused vacation when she retired, claiming she never took vacations in a 30-year career. A highway patrol officer collected $484,000 in salary, pension and leave payments. The chief money manager at a Texas pension fund got $1 million in salary and bonuses while posting investment returns that trailed those of peers who earned a quarter as much. Bloomberg News used freedom-of-information laws to obtain 1.4 million payroll records from the 12 largest states and show how taxpayers funded these out-of-control expenses and more, while at the same time states cut funding for universities, public safety, health care, schools and services aimed at the neediest residents.
  • Wage Theft In the Fields

    American farmworkers have often experienced egregious abuses, but nothing is more pervasive, nor harder to ferret out, than the wage theft that results from a practice called farm-labor contracting. Found in the fields of every handpicked crop in the country, farm-labor contractors not only provide growers with crews, but also handle wages and manage everything from verifying immigration status to providing workers' compensation. The problem is, the contractors systematically underpay the workers. “Farm labor contractors,” says writer Tracie McMillan, “give American produce growers what companies like China's Foxconn offer to Apple: a way to outsource a costly and complicated part of the business, often saving money in the process and creating a firewall between the brand and the working conditions under which its products are made.” And yet McMillan — a fellow with both the Knight-Wallace program at University of Michigan, and the Schuster Institute for Investigative Journalism at Brandeis University — found that enforcement is rare: In 2008, inspectors visited only 1,499 of the more than 2 million farms nationwide; in 2011, California inspectors found just seven minimum wage violations on the state’s 86,000 farms. Fines are minimal: “It's cheaper to violate the law than to follow the law,” says one farmworker advocate. And wage theft is tedious to prove, requiring inspectors to interview workers, analyze time cards, and collect payroll records. That's why workers and their advocates in California are counting on a lawsuit brought earlier this year on behalf of two farmworkers against the contractors who hired them—as well as the growers who outsourced the work. The suit alleges that the contractors routinely undercounted the hours worked, failed to pay minimum wage or overtime, failed to provide safe or sanitary working conditions, and housed the workers in unsafe and unsanitary living quarters. The “collective action” suit—open to anyone who can prove he or she experienced the same treatment—may cover thousands of workers and deliver awards substantial enough to deter other employers from the same practices.