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 "contracts" ...

  • Escondido Police Under Fire

    Escondido, California, has a long history of discriminating against its large Latino population. For years the City Council had tried and failed to enact legislation that would make it difficult for Spanish-speaking immigrants, documented or otherwise, to take up residence there. But “Escondido Police Under Fire” uncovers how, in 2004, local legislators along with the Escondido Police Department found an ingenious way to rid the city of undocumented immigrants — and make a profit. In 2004, Congress gave the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration funds to encourage states to get drunk drivers off the road. Escondido some of these funds and began one of the most rigorous Driving Under the Influence checkpoint programs in the State of California. The taxpayer funds allowed Escondido police to set up sobriety checkpoints several times a month. The stated goal was to catch inebriated drivers and to raise public awareness about the dangers of drunk driving. But Escondido police quickly discovered that they could make money by impounding the vehicles of unlicensed drivers. At the time, in California, if someone was caught driving without a license, their vehicle could be seized and subjected to a 30-day impound. In Escondido, the fees to retrieve the impounded vehicle were exorbitant. Escondido police began systematically asking every driver who came through a sobriety checkpoint to show a driver’s license. Escondido Police, the investigation reveals, soon brokered an agreement with Immigration Customs Enforcement to run background checks on all unlicensed drivers at the sobriety checkpoints to ascertain whether they were legally in the country. If a perfectly sober undocumented immigrant drove up to a sobriety checkpoint and could not produce a driver’s license — even though the checkpoints were being funded to get drunk drivers off the road — the unlicensed driver’s car would be impounded, ICE would run a background check, and the driver would be deported. Quickly, these federally funded sobriety checkpoints had become de facto immigration checkpoints — at an enormous profit to the Escondido police. From 2008 to 2011 the city of Escondido and tow companies with city contracts pulled in $11 million in fees, citations and auctioned vehicles from checkpoints. And hundreds of drivers were subsequently deported.
  • KSHB: Questionable Contracts

    A 41 Action News investigation scrutinized the bidding process for a $32 million energy project with Kansas City Public Schools. The investigation revealed that a businessman who acted an unpaid adviser early in the process eventually founded his own company and won the lucrative contract. The reporting lead to a resignation by a high-ranking district leader and a canceled contract. The ongoing investigation later examined other contracts and discovered a district facilities manager had helped award millions of dollars of work to a company with whom he had a personal relationship. That part of the investigation showed the district did not have a conflict of interest policy in place for district employees.
  • Louisiana Horror Movie

    “Louisiana’s Horror Movie” grew out of our 2011 IRE award winning investigation “Hiding Behind the Badge”. That series ended with the guilty pleas of former Plaquemines Parish Sheriff Jiff Hingle and businessman Aaron Bennett. Through investigative determination, “Louisana’s Horror Movie” uncovered possible public corruption by a former FBI agent and looked at his questionable relationship with the Hingle. What led us to this discovery was a piece of “Hiding Behind the Badge” we felt had not been fully explored: the money Hingle made from the B.P. oil spill. Even after the initial stories were reported, we felt there was more there. So we kept digging. It wasn’t February of 2012 that we uncovered Hingle's ties to former FBI agent, Robert Isakson. We requested emails, looking for more information to connect the dots. We had to fight the current sheriff’s office for the emails and eventually got them. The emails helped us show an improper relationship between the Hingle and Isakson – now a businessman getting contracts from Plaquemines Parish. This series eventually launched another FBI investigation, this time with Isakson in the crosshairs.
  • Connecticut Superintendents

    Viktoria Sundqvist, investigations editor at The Middletown Press, submitted FOI requests for all school superintendent contracts in Connecticut and gathered these contracts into a searchable database. The contracts were analyzed and salaries, mileage, vacation days and other perks were analyzed and made available to the public, in addition to links to the contracts.
  • The Brunswick Stew

    “The Brunswick Stew” is a series of investigative reports that began with plea from a citizens group in Brunswick, Virginia. They asked for help shining some light on what was going on in their county. The effort would take several months. Filing FOI requests and pouring over a seemingly endless pile of paperwork, a number of serious issues came to light. Illegal bonuses and contracts, back room politics, political favoritism in the awarding of bids, and a blatant case of public safety being put at risk are what “The Brunswick Stew” unveils.
  • Meningitis Outbreak

    When an unprecedented outbreak of fungal meningitis began last fall in Tennessee, The Tennessean reacted with aggressive and highly interactive coverage that has led the nation. Before other media realized the significance of the outbreak, which has sickened more than 650 people in 19 states, The Tennessean was already analyzing the regulation of specialty pharmacies and digging into the contracts and connections of the New England Compounding Center, the Massachusetts firm suspected of shipping contaminated steroids responsible for the illnesses. As of today, the outbreak has killed 40 people nationwide, 14 of them in Tennessee. More than a hundred more are still sick. We quickly reported problems associated with New England Compounding Center, lag times on informing victims and regulation slip-ups in the drug compounding industry that allowed companies to operate outside of the law.
  • Our Money, Their Failures

    A six-week investigation by The Virgin Islands Daily News into the people and the money connected to the U.S. Virgin Islands governor's proposal for a $55 million sports complex. The investigative report was published on one day across 11 pages and achieved the result of stopping the project and forcing the governor to pledge no further contracts without vetting the principals. In the case of the sports complex that the governor and some V.I. senators were trying to push through, the investigation uncovered misrepresentations and a string of financial failures by a number of the private parties in the deal with the governor.
  • Fraud on the Job

    KING 5 dedicated nearly a year to dig into the complex world of the federal minority contracting program. The program is intended to remedy past and current discrimination against minority and women-owned contracting businesses who want a shot at working on federal highway projects. But instead of fostering equal opportunity, KING found staggering fraud and abuse in the taxpayer-funded program. The investigative series titled “Fraud on the Job" was born. The Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) is responsible for administering the program. WSDOT contracts with a small state agency, the Office of Minority and Women’s Business Enterprises (OMWBE) to certify which contractors qualify as "disadvantaged business enterprises" or DBEs. They also make sure that once in, the companies aren’t cheating or becoming too big to qualify. The state’s share of billions of federal highway funds comes with some strings attached, including a requirement that a certain percentage of money spent on transportation projects be reserved for minority-owned firms. The results of the “Fraud on the Job” series were swift and extraordinary. Two days after the first story aired, the governor ordered the Washington State Patrol to conduct a criminal fraud investigation. She also ordered a top-to- bottom review of OMWBE. Two weeks later, the governor asked the director of OMWBE to resign. Another top manager quit and another was fired. Two of the companies KING exposed as defrauding the government were removed from the DBE program by the state. State and federal legislation is now being drafted to stop the cheating. And now the FBI and the Inspector General of the U.S. Dept. of Transportation are investigating.
  • The Secret Sins of Koch Industries

    In a four-continent investigation involving 16 reporters, Bloomberg Business News unearthed a multi-decade pattern of crimes and misdeeds by Koch Industries, the company run by billionaire brothers Charles and David Koch. Using never-before-published internal documents and on-the-record interviews with former employees, the article reveals that Koch Industries paid bribes to win contracts in Africa, India, and the Middle East.
  • Green Energy: Contracts, Connections and the Collapse of Solyndra

    Beginning in March, the Center's Ronnie Greene and ABC's Matthew Mosk and Brian Ross exposed flaws in the Department of Energy's billion-dollar spending spree, revealed deep links between Obama campaign bundlers and energy contracts and foreshadowed the financial and political storm that later engulfed Solyndra. Our reporting for "Green Energy: Contracts, Connections and the Collapse of Solyndra" broke ground before Solyndra's meltdown, and went well beyond the company in revealing a web of connections entangling a department lauded for its innovation. Working as full-reporting partners, our stories tied major Obama donors to lucrative green energy contracts for everything from electric cars to diesel substitutes. After over a year of reporting, we produced 50,000 words for the Center's website, thousands more on ABC's site and broadcasts on World News Tonight, Good Morning America and Nightline. Our stories, built from FOIA requests that yielded thousands of contract, financial and ethics documents, served as a template for national media reports that followed.