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 "politicians" ...

  • Explosion at West

    Tons of ammonium nitrate fertilizer at a central Texas plant exploded last April with the force of a small earthquake. The blast came just two days after the Boston Marathon and, in the national media, was overshadowed by events in the Northeast. While not the result of a terrorist attack, the explosion in West, Texas, was far larger and deadlier, and raised more significant public safety issues. In a series of investigative reports over eight months, The Dallas Morning News revealed that ammonium nitrate remains virtually unregulated by federal and state governments, despite its well-known explosive potential. (Timothy McVeigh used it in 1995 to blow up an Oklahoma City federal building.) Efforts to strengthen oversight have been blocked by industry lobbyists and government gridlock, The News found, even as the Pentagon sought bans on ammonium nitrate in Afghanistan and Pakistan. In pro-business, anti-regulation Texas, the federal government’s lax oversight meant no oversight at all. West Fertilizer Co. – scene of the disaster – violated almost every safety best practice. No state agency was charged with preventing an ammonium nitrate blast. There was no public registry of companies that handled the compound, even though many facilities are near homes and schools. Texas prohibits most counties from having fire codes and does not require facilities like West to obtain liability insurance. Gov. Rick Perry and other state politicians, who created this wide-open environment, washed their hands of the problem. They said West was a tragic accident that no amount of regulation could have prevented. The News’ findings, however, proved otherwise.
  • The Birdsall Files

    Star-Ledger reporter Christopher Baxter left no stone unturned last year in telling how one of New Jersey’s most prolific and politically influential engineering firms greased the palms of politicians throughout New Jersey to win millions of dollars in public contracts.
  • Chronic Crisis

    The investigation explored why mental health care in Milwaukee County is especially ineffective. We found that Milwaukee politicians for decades have ignored calls for reform, clinging to an outdated system that preserves union jobs at the expense of better care.
  • Labyrinth: Reardon staff linked to harassment, surveillance

    Our stories traced a maze of social media attack sites and anonymous public records requests to staff in the Snohomish County (Wash.) Executive's Office. It took us three years of reporting to reach that point. Our initial investigation and subsequent stories revealed a scheme of political payback against perceived rivals of the executive, the county's top elected official. A week after we published our first story, the executive announced he would leave office. He stepped down a few months later.
  • There Will Be Diatomaceous!

    In this series of coverage, Mission and State looks at Santa Barbara’s love-hate relationship with oil. As the country dives deeper and deeper into the enhanced-extraction oil boom, Santa Barbara grapples with what to do with the vast oil reserves waiting to be tapped in the North County and offshore. These stories delve into the fractured local oil politics, the strange bedfellows oil development can make of environmentalists, oil companies and politicians, the environmental and developmental legacies informing current debates, the missed opportunities for environmental concessions and the campaign contributions putting politicians in compromising positions. These stories paint the picture of a county in an almost schizophrenic political and cultural dance with itself. During the course of researching and reporting this series, it was revealed that Air Pollution Control District advisory board member and Lompoc City Councilmember Ashley Costa also worked in public relations for Santa Maria Energy, an obvious conflict of interest. Reporter Karen Pelland discovered that the president of a company proposing to slant drill from Vandenberg Air Force Base to get to the vast Tranquillon Ridge offshore reserve made significant political contributions to now-Congressman John Garamendi (D-Walnut Creek). Garamendi had previously scuttled a deal between environmentalists and PXP oil company for the same reserve that was hailed as a landmark proposal at the time.
  • 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.
  • Mayor Under Fire: The Fall of Filner

    In the summer of 2013 ten term congressman and newly elected San Diego Mayor Bob Filner embarked on a self destructive rampage. His political career would end and personal life would forever be altered after several scandals directly exposed by our team. The scandals ranged from Filner sexually harassing women under his charge to betraying his oath to uphold the ethical and legal responsibilities of the office to which he was elected. This entry highlights the key stories exposed by our team, all of which led to his resignation, felony conviction or the recovery of public funds.
  • Chronic Crisis

    The investigation explored why mental health care in Milwaukee County is especially ineffective. We found that Milwaukee politicians for decades have ignored calls for reform, clinging to an outdated system that preserves union jobs at the expense of better care. Milwaukee has the most lopsided system in the country, spending more on emergency and in-patient care than any other. Doctors are bound by the strictest time constraints in the country, allowing them 24 hours to observe patients considered dangerous, even in cases when patients are unconscious from suicide attempts. Our data analysis found people returning for care at an alarming rate. One woman had been seen 196 times in six years, an average of once every 11 days. One man had been brought in by police 10 times in one month. A big part of this project was not just to show the problem but to identify ways that Milwaukee County could improve. This required us to travel to other cities — including Geel, Belgium — to look at communities that do a better job.
  • Operation Blue Virus

    Operation Blue Virus is an investigation into the illegal and unethical online practices of social media marketing companies in India. Cobrapost exposes how social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and others are coming in handy for politicians to artificially boost their popularity, and malign their opponents, with help of IT companies across India which specialize in providing customized online reputation management services, for a fee. About two dozen such companies have been uncovered. The exposed companies across the country are engaged in a racket of reputation management, offering fake fan-following on social media platforms, such as Facebook and Twitter, and negative publicity to sully the reputation of a political leader, or a corporate house, for money. Among their clients are corporate houses, big or small, NGOs, scam-tainted senior government officials, individual politicians and political parties.
  • Louisiana Purchased

    “Louisiana Purchased” is the most comprehensive look at the big business of campaign financing in the history of Louisiana. The series - a first of its kind collaboration between WVUE and NOLA.com/The Times Picayune – used the investigative teams’ collective resources to pull back the curtain on a labyrinthine system hidden within millions of pieces of data. “Louisiana Purchased” highlighted illegal activities, questionable practices, and toothless ethics enforcement. The investigative team uncovered that over the course of four years (2009-2012) nearly $204 million poured into the campaigns of Louisiana’s state and local candidates. One-third of the $204 million donated was financed by less than one percent of the donors, .3 percent to be exact. Those donors made up an elite “Top 400” campaign contributor that subsequently became the driving force behind much of “Louisiana Purchased”. From that list, the team uncovered patterns that showed high dollar donors with choice board appointments, lavish campaign spending and politicians collecting more money than the law allowed. As a result, lawmakers admitted they broke the law and paid back the money and according to the state treasurer, ethics enforcement will get more financial backing as a direct result of our stories.