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 [email protected] where a researcher can help you pinpoint what you need.

Search results for "California" ...

  • Failures in the Golden State

    The Department of Toxic Substances Control oversees or has some part in regulating everything from nail polish ingredients to oil refineries, radioactive waste to metal recycling in California. At the heart of our series is the story of a department that’s divided, dysfunctional, and ineffective in fulfilling its mission to protect public health and the environment of the Golden State. We sifted through hundreds of pages of reports, memos, reviews, manifests and legal claims. We also analyzed thousands of records in the department’s hazardous waste tracking system to find out that more than 40% of the hazardous waste manifests in the DTSC’s database contain inaccurate information or are missing key details. Our reporting has held leaders accountable at the DTSC and compelled state lawmakers to call for an investigation of the department, including a legislative hearing this month (January 2014). Through a series of public records requests, we found out some of the department’s top leaders were investing in companies the DTSC oversees. Our reporting into the potential financial conflicts of interest prompted an investigation into deputy director Odette Madriago by the California Fair Political Practices Commission (FPPC). Ms. Madriago resigned from her position six weeks after our report aired. The FPPC investigation remains ongoing.
  • Aquifer at Risk

    In the series “Aquifer at Risk,” The Desert Sun revealed significant declines in groundwater levels in the Palm Springs area and exposed how water agencies in the California desert haven’t adequately addressed the problem of falling water tables. Through an analysis of water agencies’ records, the newspaper found that the aquifer’s levels have plummeted over the years despite imported flows of water – a situation that poses serious long-term risks for an area that has sold itself as a desert oasis for tourists and retirees. The series examined the causes and impacts of groundwater depletion in California, and pinpointed groundwater pumping by golf courses as a major contributor to the problem in the Coachella Valley. The series prompted the area’s largest water district to make a major policy shift, led to the formation of a golf water conservation task force, and magnified concerns that California’s approach to managing groundwater has serious flaws.
  • Ruthless Kidnapping Rings Reach from Desert Sands to U.S. Cities

    The story deals with the ever-evolving crime of human smuggling, and how opportunistic criminal gangs exploit gaps in law enforcement to open new channels for profit. In this case it was how Bedouin gangs along the Egypt-Israel border in Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula took advantage of the Arab Spring, the fall of the Mubarak regime, and the increasingly lawless state of the region to create a perfect smuggling scenario linking African refugees in Israel to Palestinian bag men (who collect the ransom) to diaspora Africans in Europe and North America who raise thousands of dollars to rescue their captives. The story documents the $80,000 payment made by one immigrant father from Eritrea—now living near San Jose, California—to secure the release of his teen-age daughter and his own brother. We showed how this was part of a growing international network that has funneled millions of dollars in each of the last 3 years to the criminals operating these enterprises.
  • Going Postal – U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein's husband sells post offices to his friends, cheap

    CBRE Group. Inc. is a commercial real estate corporation which is chaired by Richard C. Blum, who is the husband of U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein of California. In 2011, the United States Postal Service (USPS) awarded CBRE an exclusive contract to sell off postal real estate in cities and towns across America. Based upon examining hundreds of public records, Going Postal reported that CBRE has sold more than $200 million worth of post office real estate at under fair market values, often to the firm's clients and business partners. CBRE's contract with the USPS requires the company to obtain fair market prices for properties that it brokers on behalf of the public and to avoid such conflicts of interest.
  • "In Harm's Way"

    "In Harm's Way" uncovers a pattern of poor government regulation and dangerous safety problems in the booming interstate bus industry, which now carries as many passengers from city to city as domestic airlines--700 million passenger rides a year. In an investigation that took most of the year, the KNBC I-Team exposed how federal regulators routinely allow unsafe buses to remain on the roads, sometimes with fatal consequences. In 2013, California had a record number of major bus crashes--11 of them--with hundreds of injuries and over a dozen deaths.
  • Rehab Racket

    Taxpayers spend tens of millions of dollars each year in California on drug rehab centers designed to help low-income addicts. The clinics make their money billing for every client counseled. But CNN and The Center for Investigative Reporting exposed glaring and systemic failures in the program, including pervasive fraud – reporting that led to scores of clinics getting shut down. In coverage rolled out over several months, the team showed that taxpayers had spent at least $94 million over two years on Los Angeles-area clinics with clear signs of fraud or questionable billing. Regulators who could have stopped the abuses instead let misdeeds multiply. As a result of "Rehab Racket," the official overseeing the program apologized for the poor oversight and the state shut down a total of 177 clinic locations. Officials referred 69 clinics to the state Department of Justice, which opened criminal investigations.
  • California's Deloitte Dilemma: The Politics of Programming and Public Contracts. A KCRA Investigation

    When payments for California's unemployed were delayed after a computer upgrade, KCRA began digging into the cause of the delay. What reporter Sharokina Shams and producer Dave Manoucheri found was a state agency that was downplaying the problems with their new computer system and grossly under-reporting the number of people affected. Utilizing California Public Records Act requests (similar to FOIA) and whistleblowers inside the department, KCRA exposed the fact that California had purchased a computer system plagued with problems. Within a week they had determined that multiple states had hired the same company, Deloitte, LLC, and those states were experiencing similar problems. With more digging Shams and Manoucheri found that Deloitte had also donated hundreds of thousands to political campaigns and lobbied heavily with the state. KCRA found hundreds of millions paid to the company for IT contracts, failed previous projects and a new contract due to be awarded that would costs half a billion dollars. Ultimately, KCRA's investigation led to legislative hearings, the creation of legislation to change how the state writes IT contracts, and revealed that more than 40 states are waiting in the wings to upgrade their computer systems and the federal Department of Labor anticipates similar problems in all those states.
  • Rehab Racket

    Taxpayers spend tens of millions of dollars each year in California on private drug rehab centers designed to help low-income addicts. The clinics make their money billing for every client counseled. But reporters from The Center for Investigative Reporting and CNN exposed glaring and systemic failures in the program, including pervasive fraud – reporting that led to scores of clinics getting shut down. In coverage rolled out over several months, the team showed that taxpayers had spent at least $94 million over two years on Los Angeles-area clinics with clear signs of fraud or questionable billing. Clinic directors pressured counselors to pad bills with “ghost clients” they never saw. Clinic staff bribed some of the region’s poorest residents to show up for counseling they didn’t need. In an ultimate irony, addicts were enticed to attend rehab sessions with gifts of booze and cigarettes. Regulators who could have stopped the abuses instead let misdeeds multiply. CIR reporters Christina Jewett and Will Evans teamed with CNN senior investigative producer Scott Zamost and investigative correspondent Drew Griffin to produce our series, “Rehab Racket,” on multiple platforms. Jewett and Evans wrote the stories for CIR and CNN. The cable network produced video that aired on “Anderson Cooper 360” and both of our websites.
  • Dishonor

    “Dishonor” shines a light on the shocking problem of rape in the U.S. military. A female soldier in a combat zone is more likely to be raped by a fellow soldier than killed by enemy fire. In 2010 the Pentagon estimated 19,000 service members were sexually assaulted. Of these assaults only a tiny fraction were prosecuted. Natalie Morales investigates what happened to Marine officer Claire Russo. She was brutally sodomized by a fellow marine but the Marines dropped the investigation early on. A vigilant NCIS agent assigned to her case wouldn't allow justice to die in the military so he took it to the D.A. in California, and her rapist pleaded guilty. Russo says the way the military treated her rape is typical, and her case is only unique in that she got justice. Morales spoke to a group of former service members from each branch of the military who had similar stories of sexual assault and retaliation by the military for reporting their rapes. Morales asks Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta: "are rapists getting away with rape?" In a response to all of the victims of sexual assault Panetta apologizes and vows that the military will do better. http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/21134540/vp/49202943#49202943
  • Deadly Patrols

    In spring 2012, a cellphone video surfaced of a man being savagely tasered and beaten to death by a group of Border Patrol agents in San Ysidro, California, in 2010. As the video made the rounds -- through YouTube, media broadcasts and finally to members of congress -- outrage mounted. Justice for Anastasio, people demanded. A few months later, a grand jury was convened, and 14 lawmakers including two U.S. representatives from San Diego sent a letter to the Department of Justice. As Rojas’ story gained traction, we questioned: Who else is out there with a similar story? We found 14 other boys and men who have died as a result of violent altercations with Border Patrol agents. Some incidents were also caught on video. Many were not. That was the start of Deadly Patrols.