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 "flying" ...

  • Biggest of the Smalls: The Rise of a Federal Contractor

    In the last decade, the federal government has made an unprecedented push to direct work to small businesses in order to help such firms gain a foothold in the U.S. economy. The amount of money devoted to small business contracting rose 70 percent to $90 billion annually during that period. In this tide of spending, one firm stood out as the paragon of success: MicroTechnologies LLC. Records show it received $1.4 billion in federal technology deals over nine years, much of it reserved for small firms own by minority and service-disabled veteran entrepreneurs. MicroTech became the fastest growing small contractor in the nation. Founder Anthony R. Jimenez, declared it to be the "Biggest of the Smalls." Those deals transformed Jimenez's lifestyle. He bought a mansion -- and then commissioned a quarter-million entertainment system for it. He began driving a $190,000 Mercedes coupe. And he became a top sponsor of multiple martial arts "cage fighting," routinely flying to Las Vegas at company expense. “I am living the American Dream,” he said in a letter to The Washington Post. But MicroTech's extraordinary ascent begged a simple-seeming question: How could such a large company still be eligible to receive contracts set aside for small firms? Until The Post's Robert O'Harrow Jr. dug in, no one in the media or government knew the answer or bothered to check. O'Harrow pushed ahead the old fashioned way: he issued Freedom of Information Act Requests for contracting documents and demanded government officials open their files. His investigation found that MicroTech had misled the government and the public about its ownership and operations to get access to preferential contracts and burnish its own image. In doing so, the firm abused taxpayers and deprived other small firms access to hundreds of million in deals. In response to those findings, the government suspended MicroTech from contracting and changed some contracting rules. Two inspectors general offices are investigating and Congress has launched its own probes.
  • Biggest of the Smalls: The Rise of a Federal Contractor

    In the last decade, the federal government has made an unprecedented push to direct work to small businesses in order to help such firms gain a foothold in the U.S. economy. The amount of money devoted to small business contracting rose 70 percent to $90 billion annually during that period. In this tide of spending, one firm stood out as the paragon of success: MicroTechnologies LLC. Records show it received $1.4 billion in federal technology deals over nine years, much of it reserved for small firms own by minority and service-disabled veteran entrepreneurs. MicroTech became the fastest growing small contractor in the nation. Founder Anthony R. Jimenez, declared it to be the "Biggest of the Smalls." Those deals transformed Jimenez's lifestyle. He bought a mansion -- and then commissioned a quarter-million entertainment system for it. He began driving a $190,000 Mercedes coupe. And he became a top sponsor of multiple martial arts "cage fighting," routinely flying to Las Vegas at company expense. “I am living the American Dream,” he said in a letter to The Washington Post. But MicroTech's extraordinary ascent begged a simple-seeming question: How could such a large company still be eligible to receive contracts set aside for small firms? Until The Post's Robert O'Harrow Jr. dug in, no one in the media or government knew the answer or bothered to check. O'Harrow's investigation found that MicroTech had misled the government and the public about its ownership and operations to get access to preferential contracts and burnish its own image. In doing so, the firm abused taxpayers and deprived other small firms access to hundreds of million in deals. In response to those findings, the government suspended MicroTech from contracting and changed some contracting rules. Two inspectors general offices are investigating and Congress has launched its own probes.
  • HBO Real Sports: Hockey's Darkest Day

    In 2011 a plane carrying a Russian hockey team crashed shortly after takeoff--the deadliest accident in the history of professional sports. A five-month Real Sports investigation uncovered massive safety problems in the Russian hockey league. The league spent millions on player salaries but "a few bucks" on everything else--including travel. The plane that crashed was operated by a cheap, third-rate company that had been banned from flying to Europe because they had been cited so many times for major safety violations. The crew of the plane hadn't even completed their training. Our investigation showed that the lack of safety in the world’s second best hockey league—called the KHL—often extends to the ice where KHL team doctors use IV’s and drugs to get their players to perform better on the ice. One young star died after receiving an injection of banned drugs from team doctors. When it came to travel, the lack of safe conditions was nearly universal. Practically every team flew on a Soviet-era jet—jets that make up 3% of the world’s fleet but account for 42% of the world’s accidents. These jets are in such poor condition that most Russian airlines wont use them. Yet even after the crash the KHL continued to use these planes, a fact they initially denied. Shortly after we interviewed the KHL Vice President, the league changed its rules. Now teams fly strictly on modern equipment.
  • Flying Cheap

    The February 2009 crash of Continental Flight 3407 revealed "a little-known trend in the airline industry: major airlines have outsourced more and more of their flights to obscure regional carriers." These smaller carriers operate with different safety practices with pilots that are often paid less, with less training and fewer flight hours.
  • Marijuana Inc.

    Flying over northern California, you will see row upon row of marijuana fields. These rows are worth multi-millions and are left in plain sight. This is “evidence of a lucrative, but also increasingly violent, underground pot industry”. This industry has become a large part of that county’s economy. Many people in this industry are turning to guns as protection, robberies in search of drug stashes, and arrival of Mexican drug cartels.
  • Fatal Flying on Airlines No Accident in Aviator Complaint to FAA

    Florida aviation company, Gulfstream, is found to have lax pilot training standards as well as relaxed policies on aircraft fitness for flight. Death and accidents have occurred due to the neglect and Gulfstream's pilots are prevalent in the airline industry.
  • The All About Me Mayor

    Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa is known for holding endless press conferences, flying around the world and campaigning for presidential candidates. The author, using a California Public Records Request, received the mayor's work schedule from may through July and found that Villaraigosa had spend only 11 percent of his time on "real, roll up your sleeves work."
  • Power Trips: How private travel sponsors gain access to congress

    "The Center's nine-month investigation found that members of Congress and their aides made extensive use of privately funded travel during a five and a half year period ending in June 2005, collectively taking at least 23,000 trips valued at nearly $50 million. While some of these trips were legitimate fact-finding missions, manY were poorly disguised vacations, underwritten by corporations, trade groups and others with business before Congress."
  • High Flying Perks

    As automakers took more financial hits in 2006 that led to layoffs and cost-cutting, company executives asserted that they too would cut down on their personal budgets. But WXYZ-TV found out that the executives did nothing to reduce their use of corporate jets and fuel in trips costing in the tens of thousands of dollars. The eight-month investigation uncovered situations like that of Ford CEO BIll Ford, Jr. He accepted a yearly salary of only a dollar, and used company planes for personal trips to the tune of $297,201 in a single year. Ford president Mark Fields is tasked with cutting costs in the company, yet used the planes on many weekends to take trips from Detroit to his mansion in Florida at a cost of between $50,000 and $70,000 each weekend.
  • Federal Air Marshals; System Failure

    An exposed look at the public safety failures inside the Federal Air Marshal service. Some current and former air marshals that were interviewed said that "any diligent terrorist organizations could easily identify and single out flying federal air marshals under current regulations."