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 "nepotism" ...

  • Daily Herald: Illinois tollway series

    The Illinois tollway, governed by a nonelected board of political appointees, is the only option to get around the Chicago region for millions of drivers who spend $1.3 billion annually to use the system. While hardworking customers paid tolls, tollway executives and board directors were quietly hiring political insiders for high-paying jobs, handing lucrative contracts to firms where their relatives worked, and weakening bylaws to water down the tollway board’s conflict-of-interest rules. As the Daily Herald exposed nepotism, patronage and excessive spending at the tollway, the agency’s leaders fought back. Tactics included denying FOIAs, concealing information and accusing the newspaper of harassment. The Daily Herald’s investigation caught the attention of other media, two governors and state lawmakers who ultimately fired the tollway board of directors in early 2019. Legislators credited the Herald’s investigative series with alerting the public about what Gov. J.B. Pritzker referred to “unethical behavior.”
  • Only in Kentucky: Jailers Without Jails

    Reporters R.G. Dunlop and Jacob Ryan revealed that more than a third of the state's 120 counties elect jailers that have no jails to oversee. Several earn hefty paychecks for little work, putting their cash-strapped counties in a pickle, and hire their own spouses or children as deputies. Only in Kentucky does this curious practice exist. https://soundcloud.com/wfplnews/only-in-kentucky-jailers-without-jails
  • Fatal shooting exposes nepotism in the California Senate

    The California Capitol was rocked last year by criminal charges against three state senators accused in unrelated cases of bribery, perjury and conspiracy to traffic weapons. These were high-profile cases that garnered widespread media attention and public hand-wringing by politicians. What wasn't being covered by anyone else was the stories you will read here, about an ethical crisis simmering in the administrative side of the state Senate -- problems that had been largely ignored by the politicians elected to run the house. This entry includes 11 news stories I wrote over six months, a mix of enterprise investigations and breaking news. Rosenhall coverage led to significant changes in the administration of the California Senate.
  • Investigation of charter school operator

    For years, Dr. Michael Sharpe was among the most prominent charter school leaders in Connecticut, collecting millions of dollars from lawmakers eager to embrace school reform, and harboring big plans to expand his already growing empire beyond the state’s borders. Today, that empire has collapsed, following deep and aggressive reporting by a team of Hartford Courant reporters who revealed that Sharpe had a felony conviction for financial fraud, had no doctoral degree despite calling himself “Dr.,” had misused state grant money and had turned his Jumoke Academy charter school into a den of nepotism and financial conflicts of interest. As the stories unfolded, Sharpe and his entire leadership team were forced out, and investigations were launched by the state Department of Education and the FBI, which is currently presenting evidence to a federal grand jury.
  • Relative Advantage at the Los Angeles County Fire Department

    A Los Angeles Times investigation uncovered a broad pattern of nepotism and cheating in the hiring of Los Angeles County firefighters, findings that prompted immediate reforms in the agency and an ongoing investigation into possible wrongdoing by employees. Although hiring for the highly coveted jobs is supposed to be based solely on merit – and 95% of applicants are rejected – The Times found that the Fire Department employed an improbably large number of sons and other relatives of current and former firefighters. It also found that relatives had ready access to confidential questions and answers for job interviews. In addition, the story disclosed that the son of a high-ranking department official was hired despite failing 13 of 14 exams on EMT work, a critical part of the job. The story included a digital presentation of the findings.
  • Private Schools

    More than 180 privately run schools in New Jersey promise to take on the severely disabled children that public schools can’t handle, giving them a special status in the Garden State's educational system. But these schools are also a $600 million industry funded by New Jersey taxpayers – an industry that is only loosely regulated by the state. After a two-month investigation, Star-Ledger reporter Christopher Baxter exposed what can happen when the state writes checks to private companies without closely watching what they do with the money. His reporting was a relentless indictment of the system, finding the private schools were able to spend taxpayer dollars in ways public schools could not. He uncovered nepotism among school staffs, executive pay far higher than public school superintendents, officials owning fancy cars, schools offering generous pension plans and questionable business deals between schools and companies owned by school officials. In one instance, Baxter discovered a classroom aide who was related one of the school’s directors was taking home a $94,000 salary – three times what others were paid – without even a bachelor’s degree.
  • 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. .
  • Millions, Nepotism & Lies

    Following a several month investigation we detailed how a small cabal of power brokers were able to take millions of dollars sparsely populated rural, Hardee County received and funnel the money to relatives and insiders without going the proper channels. This small group of power brokers has been able to fly under the radar for years because rarely does a major media outlet cover the county which is part of our viewing area. State legislators who received some of the money ended up being targets of an Investigation by the Florida Ethics Commission which is still on-going. Meantime in the course of our investigation we discovered documents showing more than a million dollars in insurance money Hardee County received for damages from Hurricane Charlie which hit the area in 2004 was unaccounted for. Although the Hurricane occurred more than 9 years ago FEMA has not closed the file. Some of the contacts we made investigating the misappropriation of funds during the grant became sources for this part of the story as well.
  • Insider Deals at Airports Authority

    The Washington Examiner's Liz Essley exposed government nepotism and corruption with her coverage of the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority, which oversees two airports and one of the largest ongoing public works projects in the nation, the $6 billion Silver Line. In addition to a series of stories detailing insider deals and nepotism, Essley's July 31 report on a $180,000 job given to former board member Mame Reiley the day after she resigned from the board caused the nation's top transportation official, U.S. Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood, to demand immediate reform at the authority, as he stated in an interview with the Washington Post Aug. 13 and before a Congressional committee Nov. 16.
  • Sweetheart Deals and Criminal Ties in Cicero

    This series of stories exposed millions of dollars in questionable spending and waste, tainted by insider deals and nepotism, in the town government of Cicero, an inconic Chicago suburb.