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.

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  • The Death of a State Trooper

    Early on a Saturday morning in late March of 2019, a man drove the wrong way down a suburban Chicago expressway and crashed into another driver, killing them both. It’s the kind of news story that – unfortunately -- we all report too often. It’s also the kind of story that NBC5 Investigates regularly checks out, to see what might be behind the breaking news. In this case, we quickly discovered a man – Dan Davies -- who should never have been on the road, because of a system that simply (and repeatedly) didn’t work, eventually resulting in that early- morning crash. The man Davies killed: An Illinois State Trooper named Gerald Ellis, who was heading home to his family after his late-night shift. One witness at the scene said Trooper Ellis saved the lives of others, by steering into Davies’ oncoming car. Nearly every day over the two weeks following that fatal crash, NBC5 Investigates uncovered new court records and police reports, blood-alcohol analyses and dash cam video, social-media posts and States Attorney documents, all adding to a damning pile of evidence showing that Davies should have been behind bars the night of the crash, save for a series of mistakes by the Cook County State’s Attorney’s office. Yet, every day, when we tried to get answers from that State’s Attorney, Kim Foxx, there was only radio silence. The lack of response was so galling – especially from a taxpayer-funded office accountable to the public -- that we documented, online and in real time, the actual reporting process of our daily phone calls and emails, which simply sought the most basic answers on what her office did and didn’t do, in a case that clearly and ultimately resulted in the unnecessary death of an Illinois State trooper. Ultimately, Foxx was forced to respond and – finally – take responsibility for the mistakes that allowed Dan Davies to be on the road that night.
  • Doing the Math: Behind a $5 Million Inauguration

    For nearly a year, the Texas Tribune’s Shannon Najmabadi and Jay Root have been on the hunt for records detailing the state’s spending on Gov. Greg Abbott’s 2019 inauguration. From a source, they obtained a program and fundraising solicitation for the celebration. The documents revealed that dozens of influential corporations and individuals — AT&T Corporation; H-E-B grocery; a handful of political appointees — had donated thousands of dollars for front-row access during the festivities — and, perhaps, beyond.
  • What Transparency Looks Like

    Baltimore City Public Schools spends nearly $16,000 per student, per year, making it the third most funded among America’s 100 largest (Source: U.S. Census). But federal data (NAEP) ranks Baltimore schools as the third lowest performing. In 2017, Fox45 spoke with multiple sources who described a system-wide culture of pushing students through at any cost.
  • Unchecked Power

    After losing hard-fought reelection campaigns, Alabama’s sheriffs often turn their attention to undermining their successors in ways that abuse the public trust. On his way out the door, one sheriff drilled holes in government-issued cell phones, while another pocketed public money intended to feed inmates. The ousted leaders dumped jail food down the drain and burned through tens of thousands of sheriff's office dollars by purchasing thousands of rolls of toilet paper. These are among the findings of my six-month investigation into these practices for AL.com and the ProPublica Local Reporting Network. In June 2019, I chronicled the actions of nine defeated Alabama sheriffs, seven of whom allegedly destroyed public property, stole public funds and/or wasted taxpayer money after their electoral defeats. These stories were made possible by my realization that incoming sheriffs were often more willing to talk on the record about the bad behavior and criminality of predecessors who had taken advantage of them than they would be under other circumstances.
  • Bitten: The Secret History of Lyme Disease and Biological Weapons

    The first reported cases of Lyme disease surfaced in 1968; a half century later, CDC scientists believe there could be more than 300,000 new cases in the US every year. As this and other debilitating tick-borne diseases continue to spread, their origins have remained elusive. Some believe global warming is fueling the epidemic, others attribute it to human migration. But the fundamental question persists: where did Lyme disease come from? This mystery prompted Stanford University science writer and Lyme disease survivor Kris Newby to launch an investigation that led her to startling discoveries linking the outbreak to America’s clandestine biological warfare program. In BITTEN: The Secret History of Lyme Disease and Biological Weapons (Harper Wave; May 14, 2019; ISBN: 978-006-289-6278; 352 pages; $26.99)—a riveting work of scientific reportage and biography that reads like a thriller—Newby reveals the story of Willy Burgdorfer, the man who discovered the microbe behind the disease, and his role in covering up evidence that could implicate another tick- borne organisms in the original outbreak.
  • In Donors We Trust

    This entry features the Detroit Free Press' innovative and exhaustive look into irregularities in the management of the University of Michigan’s $11 billion endowment. The years-long investigation detailed how executives at some of the nation's top investment firms donated hundreds of millions of dollars to the University of Michigan while the university in turn invested as much as $4 billion in those companies' funds. More than $400 million of that amount was sent into funds managed by three alumni who advise the university on the investments of its endowment. Critics who reviewed the newspaper’s computational and statistical analysis said Michigan’s approach of investing with some of its top donors, who also help guide the university's endowment, creates a conflict. After the publication of more than a dozen stories throughout 2018, the university reformed its conflict-of-interest rules; its president apologized for a lack in oversight; a member of its board of regents returned more than $20,000 in campaign contributions from an investment fund leader; and voters ousted both board incumbents running for re-election.
  • NJ Advance Media: Death & Dysfunction

    An 18-month NJ Advance Media investigation for The Star-Ledger and NJ.com found serious failures at nearly every level of New Jersey’s patchwork system of medical examiner offices, the obscure agencies charged with one of the most fundamental tasks: figuring out how somebody died and why. The probe revealed families left to grieve without answers or closure, innocent people sent to jail and murders still unsolved.
  • "The Costs of the Confederacy" / "Monumental Lies"

    Reporters Brian Palmer and Seth Freed Wessler, along with a team of Type Investigations researchers, spent more than a year investigating public funding for sites—monuments, statues, parks, libraries, museums—and Confederate “heritage” organizations that promote an inaccurate “Lost Cause” version of American history. According to scholars, that ideology distorts the nation’s collective past by venerating Confederate leaders and the common Confederate soldier; framing of the Civil War as a struggle for Southern states’ rights against “northern aggression”; denying Southern culpability and slavery itself for any role in precipitating the war; and presenting chattel slavery as a humane, Christianizing institution. This is more than mere Confederate myth-making, it is a century-and-half old strategy that was historically deployed to terrorize and disenfranchise African American citizens and to reinstall white supremacy across the South in the wake of Reconstruction. The historic sites that perpetuate these myths have been central to racial violence in recent years, from the Dylann Roof shooting at the AME Zion Church — he had visited Confederate sites before his attack — to the deadly violence in Charlottesville, Virginia, centered around the defense of a Confederate monument.
  • NJ Advance Media: Death & Dysfunction

    An 18-month NJ Advance Media investigation for The Star-Ledger and NJ.com found serious failures at nearly every level of New Jersey’s patchwork system of medical examiner offices, the obscure agencies charged with one of the most fundamental tasks: figuring out how somebody died and why. The probe revealed families left to grieve without answers or closure, innocent people sent to jail and murders still unsolved.
  • In Donors We Trust

    This entry features the Detroit Free Press' innovative and exhaustive look into irregularities in the management of the University of Michigan’s $11 billion endowment. The years-long investigation detailed how executives at some of the nation's top investment firms donated hundreds of millions of dollars to the University of Michigan while the university in turn invested as much as $4 billion in those companies' funds. More than $400 million of that amount was sent into funds managed by three alumni who advise the university on the investments of its endowment. Critics who reviewed the newspaper’s computational and statistical analysis said Michigan’s approach of investing with some of its top donors, who also help guide the university's endowment, creates a conflict. After the publication of more than a dozen stories throughout 2018, the university reformed its conflict-of-interest rules; its president apologized for a lack in oversight; a member of its board of regents returned more than $20,000 in campaign contributions from an investment fund leader; and voters ousted both board incumbents running for re-election.