Indiana political reporter Brian Slodysko knew Vice President Mike Pence’s older brother Greg, who for months had been eyeing a run for Congress, would soon announce that he was jumping into the race for his brother’s old seat.
Slodysko wanted to get the news out first and had been pushing Greg Pence’s advisers for first word. But then a critical profile of the vice president was published by The New Yorker, and Slodysko became increasingly concerned the campaign would seek to bypass the media with an announcement directly to Greg Pence’s supporters.
Slodysko saw a potential scoop slipping away. But rather than give up, he looked for another way to get at the story. That came from an IRS form that Slodysko had heard some candidates file prior to formally registering their campaigns with the Federal Election Commission. Knowing little about the form, Slodysko Googled for it, an IRS 8871 form, and found Greg Pence’s nascent campaign had submitted just days before to establish the Greg Pence for Congress political organization.
Slodysko's story beat the campaign’s announcement by three hours and scooped all competition, including the Indianapolis Star.
Armed with that info, Slodysko was able to pull together a story, drawing not only on the IRS filing, but also his own in-depth research of the Pence family. The AP beat the campaign’s announcement by three hours and scooped all other competition, including the Indianapolis Star, which used Slodysko’s story on its home page for several hours after the news broke.
The story was used by newspapers across Indiana and the U.S. Other outlets picked up or cited the AP’s work in their own coverage, including CNN, Bloomberg, AXIOS, Drudge and the Daily Mail.
For finding a way to break a competitive story, Slodysko wins this week’s $300 Best of the States prize.