25 Years: The Center for Public Integrity

Letter from Center Founder Charles Lewis

A quarter century — wow!

Bravo and congratulations to all of the hearty souls who have worked so very hard for 25 years to make the Center for Public Integrity a Pulitzer Prize-winning news organization!

After hundreds of investigative stories, reports and commercially published books by the Center and its International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) garnering a slew of journalistic honors and sometimes even resulting in systemic change, the Center for Public Integrity has become a venerable institution.

From the first moments after I abruptly quit CBS News 60 Minutes and a successful career in network television news, this wild hope was a gleam in my eye. What if there could be a nonpartisan “watchdog in the corridors of power,” not advocating specific legislation or “agenda” except for transparency and accountability, combining the best elements of political science and investigative journalism and thoroughly examining the most important “public service and ethics-related issues” of our times?

I found two immensely talented journalist friends of mine, Alejandro Benes and Charles Piller, on each coast, one in television, one in print, who didn’t know each other, to serve as the Center for Public Integrity Board. One of our first meetings was in the spring of 1989, at a Baltimore Orioles game in Memorial Stadium (recently demolished). From its legal incorporation March 30, 1989 and the release of the first “report” in December 1990 to today, the Center has “investigated the bastards, whoever they might be,” government and corporate officials and others abusing their power and distorting the democratic process.   

Those earliest days in our first office in a brick building on K Street (later demolished) were exhausting, exhilarating and terrifying, from 100-hour weeks, all-nighters and pizza from Luigi’s (now gone) to nail-biting National Press Club news conferences with the ink still drying and, of course, the constant concern about money. But we had heart and exuberance, and we published 13 well-received Center reports the first three years, with a full-time staff of three people, the first intern sitting on a windowsill his first days because we couldn’t afford furniture.

Such was the inauspicious beginning of the Center for Public Integrity. Congratulations to Bill Buzenberg for his outstanding leadership and to all of the brilliant folks there, today and always. The only constant in life is change, and as the times keep changing, so too must and will the Center, except for its core principles and its unique “no stone unturned” approach.

Silver Symposia

Join us throughout our anniversary celebrations for several special evenings featuring notable speakers. More information here.


The Charles Lewis Founder's Fund for the Endowment

The Center for Public Integrity’s endowment, now nearly $2 million, has been renamed by the Board of Directors the Charles Lewis Founder’s Fund for the Endowment. The Founder’s Fund supports new initiatives and enables us to grow. You can participate in our next 25 years through a gift to the Founder’s Fund. We invite you to give to the Founder’s Fund for general support or for a particular reporting “beat” that you find compelling. Named giving opportunities are available. Giving during this anniversary year, over a period of several years, or through a bequest each has the potential to sustain the Center for Public Integrity over the next 25 years. For more information, please contact the Center for Public Integrity’s Development Department at 202-481-1242, or rheller@publicintegrity.org.

Alumni groups

Former staffer at the Center for Public Integrity as a staff member? Former intern? We are looking for you! Shoot us an email with contact information and let us know what you’re working on now. We are planning special events and features for Center alums. Join the list of more than 600 people who have contributed their talents to the Center for Public Integrity. Email us at invite@publicintegrity.org.


We are looking for special donors to contribute in honor the Center for Public Integrity’s anniversary. Our generous contributors will receive special benefits and visibility.

Diamond Supporters ($25,000+)

Gold Supporters ($10,000-$24,999)

Silver Supporters ($5,000-$9,999)

Bronze Supporters ($1,000-$999)

To learn more about joining these great supporters, please contact invite@publicintegrity.org