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 "public records" ...

  • "Healthy Holly" and University of Maryland Medical System Investigation

    The “Healthy Holly” scandal began with a suggestion from a source, a state legislator who told Baltimore Sun reporter Luke Broadwater she thought there might be some irregular contracting practices going on at the University of Maryland Medical System. Broadwater, busy covering the General Assembly session, filed a public records request. The documents showed that Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh and other members of the hospital network’s board of directors had no-bid contracts with the medical system -- though the extent of those contracts, especially Pugh's, were not fully described. Broadwater's story -- written quickly as a daily as soon as he received the documents -- was breaking news that got the attention of Maryland's political establishment: University of Maryland Medical System pays members of volunteer board hundreds of thousands in business deals. Immediately, Broadwater and other Baltimore Sun reporters followed their instincts and tips that were coming in -- including that Pugh had failed to print many of the books she’d been paid to produce, while thousands of others were sitting unread in a Baltimore school system warehouse. Meanwhile, Sun reporters pulled ethics forms, poured over tax records, filed public information requests and worked sources, breaking story after story that exposed a widening scandal that rocked the state of Maryland, perhaps more than any other series of articles in decades. Their work led to the resignation of the mayor, the UMMS CEO and other top officials, including every member of the medical system's board of directors.
  • In the hot seat

    When reporters at NBC News began probing OSHA severe injury data in February 2019, an interesting takeaway emerged: UPS had a higher rate of heat injuries than any other company. At least 107 UPS workers in 23 states had been hospitalized for heat illnesses since 2015. In severe cases, heat can lead to organ failure and death. But regulators have little enforcement ability on this issue because there is no OSHA standard protecting workers from heat--even as climate change brings record-breaking temperatures. NBC News filed more than two dozen public records requests for state-level data -- to supplement the federal OSHA data -- and hundreds of pages of incident reports, and spoke with dozens of UPS employees, uncovering a corporate culture that exacerbated the problem. Long hours, heavy routes, fear of retaliation and sweltering trucks and warehouses pushed workers workers past their limits. Managers pushing workers to continue working when sick, and employees too intimidated to report their injuries. UPS claimed that their iconic brown trucks do not get dangerously hot, but NBC News sent five temperature loggers in packages across the country, during one of the hottest weeks of the summer. The results showed that each package exceeded 100 degrees while on a truck, with one hitting nearly 115 degrees. Drivers around the country also sent us images of temperature readings they took in their own trucks -- the hottest clocked in at 158 degrees. Between rising temperatures and the growing demands of the two-day delivery economy, dozens of UPS drivers said conditions are getting worse. Follow up stories uncovered additional injuries and more examples of UPS poorly protecting its workers from the heat. Following our story, OSHA fined UPS for a heat injury for the first time in nearly a decade.
  • Tarnished Brass

    In the name of protecting men and women in uniform, states across the country have made it nearly impossible to identify dangerous law enforcement officers with a track record of violence and other misdeeds. Records detailing their misconduct often are filed away, rarely seen by anyone outside of the department. Police unions and their political allies have worked to put special protections in place ensuring some records are shielded from public view, or even destroyed. A national tracking system for backgrounding officers is incomplete and not available to the public. More than two years ago, USA TODAY and its network of newsrooms across the nation set out to change that. More than two dozen reporters began collecting public records from the communities they covered and beyond. Also contributing substantially to the record-gathering was the Invisible Institute, a nonprofit journalism organization in Chicago that focuses on issues around policing tactics and criminal justice. We pieced together lists of decertified officers in more than 40 states. We collected logs and paper records related to 110,000 internal affairs investigations. We gathered information on 14,000 lawsuits against departments and fought to obtain so-called Brady lists, documenting officers flagged for lying and other misdeeds. Then we scoured story archives from our newsrooms and others to piece together the most comprehensive list of police misconduct cases ever built.
  • Las Vegas Review-Journal's Fight for Records

    The Las Vegas Review-Journal fought for and won access to vital public information in 2019, including police reports, investigative documents and lawsuits. And it took the fight all the way to the Nevada Legislature to do something our adversaries in the public sector thought was impossible: We helped strengthen the state’s previously toothless Public Records Act.
  • Chicago Police kept secret dossiers on public speakers

    Tribune reporters discovered that Chicago Police were running secret background checks on public speakers at the police board’s monthly disciplinary meetings. Speakers included men and women whose loved ones had been killed by police, attorneys, activists, a religious leader, and even cops themselves. The police department secretly created profiles on more than 300 different speakers, potentially violating a court decree meant to prevent police spying on First Amendment activities. The Tribune also discovered a major discrepancy in how long police ran the secret checks, leading Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot to order an inspector general investigation into the matter.
  • The Fight for Legislative Records

    The group of stories submitted start with the anti-transparency actions that Washington state lawmakers took after an AP-led coalition prevailed in superior court in January 2018, when a judge ruled that state lawmakers are subject to the same public disclosure law that other elected officials are. The final story and glance are on the state Supreme Court in December 2019 upholding that lower court ruling. The state high court ruling is the end of a nearly three- year effort by Rachel La Corte at The Associated Press to successfully challenge lawmakers’ assertion that they had a special exemption from the state’s Public Records Act.
  • Easy Targets

    There are some sixty-three thousand licensed gun dealers in the U.S.—nearly twice the number of McDonald’s and Starbucks combined. But, unlike other businesses that deal in dangerous products, such as pharmacies or explosives makers, most gun stores face no legal requirements to secure their merchandise. As a result, there has been a sharp increase in gun-store thefts. This story focuses on a group of thieves who preyed on gun stores in North Carolina, stealing more than two hundred weapons over a four-month period. The Trace and The New Yorker relied on thousands of public records and more than fifty interviews to track these guns through a network of black-market profiteers.
  • Silicon Valley’s Hidden Figures

    Silicon Valley has a big diversity problem. But no one has been able to comprehensively quantify it until now. Some of the multibillion-dollar companies that fuel the global economy have sought to hide how few women and people of color they have in their organizations, refusing to release the data, claiming the information is a trade secret. We built the largest and most comprehensive database of diversity employment data for Silicon Valley available. Through a groundbreaking collaboration with a University of Massachusetts Amherst sociologist, we got Equal Employment Opportunity Council (EEOC) data for 177 of the largest tech companies through public records requests and a successful FOIA lawsuit. Through this data, we uncovered disparities and ranked companies based on their diversity scores. By establishing a baseline of comparative data, we were able to hold companies accountable for their diversity hiring practices for the first time. Because of our analysis, the public now knows some of the worst companies when it comes to diversity in Silicon Valley. But we also found that diversity is not an impossible goal to achieve for technology companies: some are doing much better than their peers.
  • KARE 11 Investigates: Double Billing the Badge - The Patrol Car Payback

    KARE 11's groundbreaking multi-year investigation "Double Billing the Badge - The Patrol Car Payback" exposed a complex scheme to overcharge hundreds of police agencies on thousands of squad cars. It led to a criminal conviction, reforms in state procurement policies, and a massive refund of taxpayer dollars.
  • ’Drag this out’: Atlanta mayor’s office directs delay of public requests

    In a unique partnership, WSB-TV joined resources with investigative journalists at The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Reporters, producers and editors crafted stories for the needs of their audiences and platforms but broke them in tandem. Management from both media outlets collaborated to make a formal complaint with the state after reporting on city officials frustrating Georgia’s Open Records Act. WSB-TV and The Atlanta Journal-Constitution are both owned by parent company Cox Media Group