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ProPublica and Partners Win IRE Award

ProPublica and our partners at Frontline and Marketplace have been honored with an Investigative Editors & Reporters Award for our dark money reporting.  The three news organizations were given IRE’s Multiplatform (large site) honor for our joint “Big Sky, Big Money” project.

The IRE judges said, “This project featured multiple partners breaking down a complicated subject – campaign finance in the post-Citizens United era – in a simple, entertaining fashion.” 

The investigation looked at the rising influence of groups called “social welfare” nonprofits, which can spend money on politics without reporting their donors.  Through the lens of a group active in Montana and Colorado, we showed how dark money outfits circumvent campaign finance rules and how federal and state agencies often struggle to catch up.  

Using records found in a Colorado meth house, we also were able to penetrate the group’s veil of secrecy, identifying its contributors and showing how it had interacted with candidates.

As the IRE judges noted, our stories had impact:  “The investigation led to a Montana judicial ruling that Western Tradition Partnership violated the state’s campaign finance laws and the head of the organization resigned.”

CNN Digital shared in the Multiplatform Award (large site).  A list of all the IRE winners is available here.

Mike Webb

Mike Webb was the vice president/communications of ProPublica. He is a veteran communications specialist with experience in public relations, marketing, sales and campaign work at media companies, think tanks, political organizations and in the entertainment business.

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