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 "spending" ...

  • Leadership problems at Florida State College at Jacksonville

    What started as a look at problems in the financial aid department led to a widespread review of college operational issues and spending that angered taxpayers and frustrated students. Through several months of reviewing records and rooting out sources, we found that the college had almost no controls on the president's spending and the board offered little oversight. We learned that this was common throughout the state after we reviewed all presidential contracts in Florida - and found lots of big-money perks. Our stories prompted two consulting reviews by the college and two statewide investigations, one from the inspector general into the president's spending and a second from the Florida College System into FSCJ's finances. The president and two other top-level leaders left the college, and reforms are expected from the Legislature this year.
  • Buying the Election

    “Never Mind the Super PACs: How Big Business Is Buying the Election” investigates previously unreported ways that businesses have taken advantage of the Supreme Court’s Citizens United ruling, which overturned a century of campaign finance law and allowed corporations to spend directly on behalf of candidates. The piece debunks a common misperception that businesses have taken advantage of their new political spending powers primarily through so-called Super PACs. In fact, most Super PAC donations have come from extremely wealthy individuals, not corporations. The investigation shows how corporations have instead used a variety of 501(c) nonprofits, primarily 501(c)(6) “trade associations,” to direct substantial corporate money on federal elections. As one prominent advisor to GOP candidates as well as corporations points out, "many corporations will not risk running ads on their own," for fear of the reputational damage, but the trade groups make these ad buys nearly anonymous. In 2010, 501(c)(6) trade associations and 501(c)(4) issue-advocacy groups outspent Super PACs $141 million to $65 million. The investigation shows that the growth of trade association political spending has had a number of significant ramifications, such as increased leverage during beltway lobbying campaigns. Most troublingly, legal loopholes allow foreign interests to use trade associations to directly influence American elections. One of the most significant revelations in the piece was that the American Petroleum Institute, a trade association for the oil and gas industry, had funneled corporate cash to groups that had run hard-hitting campaign ads while being led in part by a lobbyist for the Saudi Arabian government, Tofiq Al-Gabsani. As an API board member, Al-Gabsani was part of the team that directed these efforts, which helped defeat candidates who supported legislation that would move American energy policy away from its focus on fossil fuels. Federal law prevents Al-Gabsani, as a foreign national, from leading a political action committee, or PAC. But nothing in the law stopped him from leading a trade group that made campaign expenditures just as a PAC would.
  • Indentured Students

    In a year-long series, Bloomberg detailed how the $1 trillion in outstanding student loans has imprisoned borrowers in a lifetime of debt, enabling a host of predatory collections practices, misleading financial-aid offers and out-of-control college spending -- while politicians for decades ignored mounting danger signals.
  • The Shadow Money Trail

    With our “Shadow Money Trail” series, OpenSecrets Blog (run by the Center for Responsive Politics) led all news outlets in revealing where some of the most active -- and most secretive -- outside spending groups in the 2010 and 2012 election cycles were getting their money, and how they were moving it around to like-minded organizations.
  • Platts: Russian Gas Giant Mines U.S. Energy Data

    Russia’s state-owned natural gas company says the U.S. shale-gas boom is economically unsustainable — and it’s buttressing its claim with financial data collected by an American consulting firm located less than 20 miles from the White House. Moscow-based Gazprom, the world’s largest gas company, is working with Pace Global Energy Services, a consulting firm in Fairfax, Virginia, to analyze how much money U.S. gas companies are spending on hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling. Gazprom, citing the Virginia company’s data, says the true costs of U.S. shale-gas production are upwards of 150% higher than the revenues its practitioners have been reaping in the last few years. Gazprom says this will ultimately lead to the demise of fracking-based shale-gas drilling in the US and other countries that are considering adopting it. But Gazprom’s critics say the company and its unlikely Washington-area ally are spreading “myths and misconceptions” about the U.S.-led shale-gas gas boom so that European and Asian countries will not develop their own shale plays, and will instead continue to buy conventional Russian gas.
  • Playing with Fire

    “Playing with Fire” focuses on a public board well out of the public eye, but one that could cost New Orleans taxpayers millions of dollars every year. After a month of digging through thousands of pages of records at the New Orleans Firefighters Pension Fund, WVUE-TV and Lee Zurik revealed questionable salaries, spending, and management.
  • Green Energy Going Red

    In this series of original and exclusive investigations, CBS documented the fate of $90 billion dollars in green energy stimulus tax spending and dug in to find out why it did not produced the promised results: a boom in green energy technology and products accompanied by a burst in employment. In Solar Scorching, we identified eleven green energy companies besides Solyndra that together got billions of tax dollars, only to declare bankruptcy or suffer other serious financial issues. Since our initial report, the number of failures has risen dramatically. CBS exposed the fact that the government secretly knew what a poor investment some of these companies were, even before it committed taxpayer billions. We obtained exclusive documents showing one project had confidentially been rated as a “junk bond,” but the government committed $43 million tax dollars anyway. It went bankrupt.
  • The Lobbies at the Top

    The New York State Joint Commission on Public Ethics documents spending on lobbying statewide, as reported by the entities seeking influence and the lobbyists they hire. In 2011, companies, advocacy groups and unions spent $220 million on lobbying in the state, a record high. One in four of those dollars targeted New York City officials. This project examines the biggest-spending lobbying clients and the most active lobbying firms and shows what they sought to win — and who actually came out ahead.
  • Playing with Fire

    “Playing with Fire” focuses on a public board well out of the public eye, but one that could cost New Orleans taxpayers millions of dollars every year. After a month of digging through thousands of pages of records at the New Orleans Firefighters Pension Fund, WVUE-TV and Lee Zurik revealed questionable salaries, spending, and management. Among the notable discoveries: a $70,000 raise and $90,000 lump sum payout for the board Secretary-Treasurer/CEO; tens of thousands of dollars in questionable credit card charges by the board; and tens of millions of dollars in questionable investments. This last element is perhaps the most egregious for the citizens of New Orleans who are left to foot the bill for any pension fund shortfalls. This multi part series launched an investigation by the city’s inspector general, forced the board to change polices and led to charges filed by the state ethics board against two of the principals in our series.
  • Mauritania: Slavery's Last Stronghold

    Two CNN Digital reporters traveled to Mauritania -- a West African nation that became the last country in the world to abolish slavery – to document a practice the Mauritanian government denies still exists. Spending nearly a year to gain entry into the country and conducting many of their interviews at night and in covert locations, John Sutter and Edythe McNamee went to great lengths to uncover the tragedy of multigenerational servitude in Mauritania. They met people who’ve never known freedom; people who escaped slavery to find their lives hadn't changed; and abolitionists who have been fighting against slavery for years with minimal results. It was only five years ago -- in 2007 -- that the country finally passed a law that making slavery a crime. So far, only one slave owner has been convicted. The United Nations estimates 10% to 20% of Mauritanians live in slavery today. But the country continues to deny slavery’s existence and attempted to subvert Sutter’s and McNamee’s reporting by assigning to them a government “minder.” Nonetheless, the two succeeded at putting a face on a shocking practice that is similar to slavery in America before the Civil War, in which people are born into slavery and rarely escape. Their report – “Slavery’s Last Stronghold” -- featured a variety of mediums, including personal video accounts and written stories featuring firsthand accounts from freed slaves and one man’s transformative journey from slave owner to abolitionist. It also included related stories – such as the story of escaped Mauritanian slaves now living in Ohio. In response to the initiative, CNN iReport, the network’s global participatory news community, gathered messages of hope and support to be shared at a school for escaped slaves in Nouakchott, Mauritania.