Chasing a phantom to Cincinnati

By

 Updated:

Carrie Levine is typical of the Money & Politics team’s approach  dogged, determined and leaving no stone unturned. Her work also speaks to one of Chuck Lewis’ original missions for the Center: exposing the impact of money in politics.

Carrie tracked one of the most influential conduits for money in politics to an ordinary suburban address outside Cincinnati. It’s the home to a little known law firm behind $22 million spent by shadowy conservative groups to influence ballot initiatives and state elections. He wasn’t pleased when Carrie turned up at his door: “You’re not welcome here,” he said, calling approaching him at his home “unbelievably unprofessional.”

Importantly, the Carrie story, was a good example of the partnership strategies being developed by our communications expert William Gray. The Phantom story was beautifully presented on Politico and more conservatively in the Columbus Dispatch.

Also on the Money & Politics beat, managing editor Alison Fitzgerald marked the passing of former Attorney General Eric Holder’s deadline for prosecutions arising from the 2008 financial crisis. Answer: none.

The Chicago Sun-Times ran a version of  our piece on transparency and corruption in Illinois on its Op Ed page. And check out the lovely headline on the Jeff Kelly Lowenstein piece for us which kicked it off: Illinois and integrity: a strange tale and curious mix.

HSBC Swiss Leaks and Lux Leaks roll on

ICIJ Director Gerard Ryle notes the impact of the huge #swissleaks story rolls on: HSBC’s Swiss branch agreed to pay a record-breaking $43 million without admitting guilt to settle criminal action taken by Swiss authorities as a result of our story in February.

"Amazon has begun to pay taxes in Europe and not hide behind structures in Luxembourg. This largely results from our stories last year.”

Here is the #swissleaks package and here’s #luxleaks. More in the What we’re reading category, the US Justice Department showed why it and HSBC were reluctant to explain its money laundering methods because it was still open to abuse.

Backing our Buffett story

In an earlier note I mentioned the ruckus about the story of Dan Wagner and The Seattle Times' joint report on Clayton Homes, an arm of Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway, and the way it treated poor mobile home owners. Buffett attacked our coverage and made some unpleasant and incorrect assertions about our former staff member and the way he went around reporting the piece. It’s nice to have had the New York Times Editorial Board weigh in a second time on that story.

National Security drum beat

R. Jeffrey Smith, our managing editor for National Security keeps up a steady drum beat on the hideous waste from the campaigns in Afghanistan and Iraq. His piece on a spanking new military base in Afghanistan that was never used is a great case in point. 

Too many things to know about too many candidates

Many folks on the team including Dave LevinthalCarrie, Michael Beckel and Kimberley Porteous, with major assists from our social maestro John Ketchum and digital editor Jared Bennett have done a nice job on highly shareable and informative “listicles” regarding the ever-growing list of presidential candidates. Theese attractive efforts keep us nicely current and amazingly don’t have any cat pictures in them. Here’s Rick Perry and here is a shorter list for Lincoln Chafee

What we’re reading — mostly me this week:

  • Michael Massing in the New York Review of Books has done the second of a three-part series on digital journalism. Inside baseball for some of you perhaps but a valuable analysis.
  • The Nation’s Eric Alterman wrote a nice bleat about the risks to investigative journalism though I am tempted to recall some words of Kara Swisher in my presence: “Can you give me the precise date when the old media is going stop complaining about the new media."

Thanks for reading this far and I welcome any feedback. 

More stories about

Care about freedom of the press? Support independent investigative journalism.

Donate now
Donate now