Dec. 16, 2022
Beat of the Week
AP delivers exclusive interview with Ukraine’s finance minister
delivered an exclusive interview with Ukraine’s finance minister, despite the complications of war.Read more.
delivered an exclusive interview with Ukraine’s finance minister, despite the complications of war.Read more.
used campaign finance reports to document North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum is helping bankroll a political action campaign aimed at unseating a powerful legislator and fellow Republican who had frustrated some of Burgum’s goals. Burgum was elected in 2016 as an outsider businessman, and has long clashed with the state’s Republican old guard, including House Appropriations Chairman Jeff Delzer. https://bit.ly/2LM84CL
used months of diligent reporting and sourcing to gain exclusive access to a financial snapshot of the foundation widely seen as a steward of the Black Lives Matter movement. Morrison’s story revealed that the Black Lives Matter Global Network Foundation took in just over $90 million last year, as the influence of the Black Lives Matter movement grew following the May 2020 police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis.Morrison, a New York-based AP race and ethnicity writer, delved into the tensions between some of the movement’s grassroots organizers and national leaders, showing the full picture of the movement's financial journey — the successes and the growing pains. Morrison's exclusive received many shares on social media and put the AP well ahead of other news organizations. https://bit.ly/389DK0A
delivered an exclusive on the Royal Foundation, revealing that the conservation charity founded by Prince William, an outspoken environmental advocate, keeps its investments in a bank that is a major backer of fossil fuels. And more than half its investments are in a “green” fund that owns shares in multinational food companies that buy palm oil from companies linked to deforestation.Based on a tip, Davey spent months poring over the charity’s public filings. The London-based climate accountability reporter also interviewed experts on environmentally responsible investing, connected the foundation’s investments to cases of deforestation and sought comment from all the principals, ensuring that any critique of the Royal Foundation’s investment practices would be fair and accurate.No news organization came close on the widely played story — others either used the AP piece or cited AP in their own reporting.Read more
They’re called “golden visas” – legal permission for non-citizens to reside in the U.S. or other countries in exchange for investment. But how much are such investments worth, and who is making them?
These were questions that AP’s Nomaan Merchant set out to answer, encouraged by Greater China news director Gillian Wong.
After months of searching out data from 20-plus countries, analyzing it and interviewing investors, Merchant could report that more than 100,000 Chinese have poured $24 billion in the last decade into "golden visa" programs across the world, and notably in the U.S. – an exclusive AP analysis that earns the Beat of the Week.
Oklahomans widely assumed that 12 Republican state lawmakers who lost their bids for re-election came up short at the polls because of their opposition to raising pay for the state’s public school teachers.
While opposition to education funding may have been one factor in incumbent losses in the GOP primaries, Oklahoma City-based reporter Sean Murphy began hearing scuttlebutt about an organized effort from within the Republican Party to kick out incumbents from their own party.
Using campaign finance reports and solid sourcing at the Capitol, Murphy was alone in showing that the rumors were true.
Public records showed a top state House GOP leader had given money to opponents of two of his own colleagues, and the opponents unseated the incumbents. Murphy also leveraged a relationship developed over years of reporting to get the lawmaker to talk. He acknowledged a plan to punish fellow Republicans for taking hardline stances that forced a compromise with Democrats on a plan to raise taxes to pay for teacher raises.
For combining shoe-leather reporting with smart document work, Murphy wins this week’s Best of the States award.
for using impeccable sourcing at a rules conference, exclusively obtaining the secret FIFA finances which help fuel the debate on equal pay for women soccer players. https://bit.ly/2O5nqCU
When Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton announced he’d sent a letter leaning on Gunnison County, Colorado, to end an order expelling non-residents during the pandemic, AP’s Paul Weber immediately wondered: Why was the top law enforcement official in Texas picking a fight with a remote county two states away in the middle of the crisis? And did Paxton have donors there?
Weber and colleague Jake Bleiberg started combing campaign finance and property records, quickly finding that some of Paxton’s biggest donors have homes in the wealthy mountain resort town of Crested Butte, Colorado.
Persistent reporting and extensive public records work revealed that Paxton’s push against the Gunnison health order stood to benefit an exclusive group of Texans, including campaign donors who gave the attorney general a total of nearly $2 million. AP Texas members jumped on the story, using it in print and online.
For alertly connecting the dots between a puzzling press release and a conflict of interest in the attorney general's office, Weber and Bleiberg earn this week’s Best of the States award.
for exclusive iPhone video of former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen making a surprise visit to U.S. District Court a month after his guilty plea on campaign finance violations and other charges. https://bit.ly/2NHR7Nihttps://bit.ly/2xRi4TU
for digging into campaign finance records to reveal how the liquor industry contributes to powerful politicians in the state, who in turn protect an arcane system of laws about who can sell beer and even how cold or warm it is. http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/nationworld/mid...
reviewed campaign finance records and social media posts, finding that Walmart, Amazon and other corporate giants donated to the reelection campaign of a Tennessee lawmaker who had amplified and promoted the QAnon conspiracy theory. Milligan helped compile and review Federal Election Commission data for 81 current or former congressional candidates who have expressed support for or interest in QAnon. The AP analysis showed that dozens of QAnon-promoting candidates have run for federal or state offices during this election cycle. Collectively, they have raised nearly $5 million from thousands of donors. Individually, however, most of them have run poorly financed campaigns with little or no corporate or party backing. Kunzelman’s story showed up in more than 200 news outlets with strong engagement, including Hollywood director Judd Apatow, who tweeted a link to his 2.4 million followers. https://bit.ly/3j0AnfH
for breaking the news about a proposed House bill that would cut disaster relief money to help finance President Trump's border wall, and being first to report the amount of money Trump would request for Harvey aid. http://ti.me/2gNUbaZ
“What’s in the safe?”
The headline on the cover of the New York Post editions on Aug. 23 spoke volumes about the impact, power and reach of AP reporting on the legal chaos surrounding President Donald Trump.
Washington investigative reporter Jeff Horwitz exclusively reported that the National Enquirer kept a safe containing documents on hush money payments and other damaging stories it killed as part of its cozy relationship with Trump leading up to the 2016 presidential election. Horwitz's story quickly went to No. 1 on AP Mobile and led websites around the world.
It was one of two AP exclusives touching on Trump’s former personal attorney Michael Cohen that seized the nation’s attention last week. In addition to Horwitz, Albany statehouse reporter David Klepper was first to report that New York state investigators subpoenaed Cohen as part of their probe into the Trump Foundation. Klepper reported that Cohen is a potentially significant source for state investigators looking into whether Trump or his charity broke state law or lied about their tax liability.
For their exclusives, Horwitz and Klepper win the Beat of the Week.
traveled 300 miles over muddy tracks and by water via outboard to visit seven villages of an ignored tribe of Kichwa Indigenous people and to hear their testimony about a historic injustice that is also an example of a current trend in climate finance. Tribal members say their historical lands were taken away, throwing them into poverty, to create a national park from which the Peruvian government earns millions in climate carbon credits from faraway oil companies such as Shell and TotalEnergies.Read more.
spent months sifting through opaque campaign finance records to learn that Democratic Sen. Kyrsten Sinema received nearly $1 million over the past year — more than double what she had received in her previous 10 years in Congress combined — from private equity professionals, hedge fund managers and venture capitalists as she thwarted efforts to raise their taxes.A day after the legislation passed the Senate with selected tax provisions excised at SInema’s insistence, the AP story drove national political coverage and earned hundreds of thousands of views on AP News.Read more
for breaking news on the unusual circumstances around $4.15 million in settlements for alleged victims of sexual harrassment by a former close ally of Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds. From a comprehensive records request and interviews, Foley learned that a lawyer for the women had sent a detailed “demand letter” threatening a lawsuit days before the election and a promise to dig into the governor’s association with the now-fired director of the Iowa Finance Authority. The state, Foley reported, agreed to settle immediately after receiving the letter. https://bit.ly/2EoXmxR
analyzed how national conservative groups have targeted school board races that more typically have been sleepier, civil affairs. The reporting was built on research Carr Smyth began in 2021, looking at national conservative groups’ involvement in school board recruitment and candidate training seminars around the country.By reviewing campaign finance filings, education reporter Binkley and Columbus, Ohio-based reporter Carr Smyth revealed that one group — the 1776 Project PAC — has spent millions to support conservative candidates in multiple states.The story, capturing how national money and attention has changed the tenor of many of these local races, detailed how many Republicans are seizing on “parental rights” and accusing incumbents of “grooming” and “indoctrination” as a tactic to unseat Democrats.Read more
reported exclusively on Imaad Zuberi, a shadowy, elite political fundraiser whose reach included private meetings with then-Vice President Joe Biden and VIP access at Donald Trump’s inauguration. Zuberi funded political campaigns in the U.S. and sold the resulting political influence to the highest-bidding foreign government overseas.Suderman Mustian reviewed thousands of documents and interviewed more than 100 law enforcement officials, diplomats and businessmen on three continents who dealt with Zuberi during his globe-trotting years of political fundraising. Critically, Suderman persuaded his sources to turn over a trove of private emails that painted an unprecedented picture of Zuberi’s modus operandi.The reporting revealed vulnerabilities in the U.S. campaign finance system and uncovered the names of politicians who had benefited from Zuberi’s largess, prompting calls for reform. https://bit.ly/3okr64k
for reporting on a lavish wine cave fundraiser for Pete Buttigieg in Napa, California, that became a key issue during the Democratic debate on Dec. 19. His curiosity piqued after a source provided him with a copy of an invitation to an exclusive Buttigieg fundraiser, Slodysko picked up details that made it clear this wasn’t just any fundraiser. The room included a chandelier with 1,500 Swarovski crystals, an onyx banquet table and $900 bottles of cabernet. The story spoke to the issue of rich donors wielding outsized political influence and dominated the week’s presidential debate as fellow candidate Elizabeth Warren pressed Buttigieg about why he would need to hold a fundraiser in such a venue. By the end of the night, “wine cave” had entered America’s political lexicon. https://bit.ly/379yVBr
It’s no secret that the repeal and replacement of Obamacare could have a significant impact both on those holding insurance and on the finances of states that have embraced the health care law. But over the last few months, few details had emerged on what that precise impact might be.
In an “Only on AP” story, St. Paul, Minnesota, statehouse reporter Kyle Potter revealed that Minnesota officials were bracing for additional costs that could reach $6 billion by 2029 to maintain a low-income health care program that covers more than 900,000 state residents. For providing one of the first concrete glimpses into the possible ramifications states envision, Potter wins this week's Best of States recognition.