Jason Grotto

Reporter

Photo of Jason Grotto

Born and raised in Chicago, ProPublica Illinois reporter Jason Grotto specializes in quantitative analysis, using databases, statistics and mapping to ferret out corruption, negligence and bad public policy. Previously, he worked as an investigative reporter for the Chicago Tribune and the Miami Herald. His project exposing widespread inaccuracies and disparities in Cook County’s property tax assessment system was a Pulitzer Prize finalist for local reporting and received the Gerald Loeb Award for local reporting in 2018. He has also reported on the pension crisis in Chicago and Illinois and led another Gerald Loeb Award-winning investigation on Chicago Public Schools’ disastrous use of auction-rate securities. He has uncovered fraud in federal poverty programs, problems in Iraq war contracting and flaws in the Chicago Housing Authority’s Plan for Transformation.

He was a 2015 Nieman Fellow at Harvard University, where he studied municipal finance. Other honors include a Chicago/Midwest Emmy Award, an Investigative Reporters and Editors Award and the Society of Environmental Journalists Award. He earned a master’s degree in journalism from the University of Missouri in 2000 and a bachelor’s in U.S. history from the University of Oregon in 1995.

From Truck Stops to Elections, a River of Gambling Money Is Flooding Waukegan

Owners of one of Illinois’ largest video gambling companies are behind efforts to influence city politics, expand gambling and build a casino near land they control.

As Illinois Expands Gambling, It Will Also Try to Determine How Many Gambling Addicts It Has

Illinois will finally conduct a thorough study of the gambling problem in the state — the first such survey in nearly 30 years. It said it will spend more money to treat addiction, too.

Anatomy of the Gambling Bill

Illinois is going to dramatically expand gambling. Here’s the bill and what it means.

Illinois Is Poised to Become the Gambling Capital of the Midwest

And like the state’s last gambling expansion, in 2009, the massive new bill could bring trouble.

Illinois Video Gambling Tax Hike Will Be Decided by Lawmakers With Financial Ties to the Industry

As video gambling has grown in the state, so have the industry’s links to lawmakers.

How Has the “Crack Cocaine of Gambling” Affected Illinois? The State Hasn’t Bothered to Check.

Since video gambling went live in 2012, more than 30,000 video slot and poker machines have been installed in the state and gamblers have lost more than $5 billion. Yet Illinois has failed to address the issue of gambling addiction in any meaningful way.

How Illinois Bet on Video Gambling and Lost

Lawmakers said legalizing video gambling would generate billions of dollars for the state. Instead, it’s proved to be little more than a money grab.

How We Analyzed Video Gambling in Illinois

Here’s how we conducted an in-depth look at the rapid expansion of video gambling in the state and its financial and social costs.

How Do We Verify Anonymous Sources?

Very, very carefully, and only after making sure they merit anonymity.

Cook County Assessor Joe Berrios’ Defeat Opens the Door to Reform

Democratic primary winner Fritz Kaegi pledged change, but delivering it won’t be easy.

Flawed Assessments Caused $2 Billion Shift in Property Taxes, Study Finds

Under Cook County Assessor Joseph Berrios, assessment system shaved $1 billion from Chicago’s most expensive homes, while owners of lower-valued homes picked up the tab.

How Do We Keep Bias Out of Stories?

We stick with the facts, and several editors read every story.

Cook County’s Residential Property Tax Assessments Deeply Unfair, Independent Study Confirms

Findings that assessments were error-ridden and burdened the poor undermine Assessor Joseph Berrios’ claims that he properly valued residential property.

Sometimes, Impact Isn’t All It’s Cracked Up To Be

Claims from officials that they’re acting in response to a story need to be investigated, too.

As March Primary Nears, Study on Cook County Property Tax System Still Under Wraps

Initial mid-December deadline for review gives way to new release date: late February.

Rauner Takes Aim at State Lawmakers Who Appeal Property Taxes

But the Illinois governor's effort may have little impact on the system.

Ethics Board Fines Cook County Assessor Over Campaign Contributions

Rulings add to controversy surrounding Assessor Joseph Berrios, though Berrios’ lawyers say contribution limits are unconstitutional.

Cook County Assessor’s Old-School Politics Come With a Price for Taxpayers

As Berrios’ court fight drags on, critics and others fear patronage hurts the office’s property tax work.

Watchdog Group Calls for Reform to Cook County Assessor’s Office

Pressure continues to mount for greater transparency and oversight of the office.

Lawsuit Targets Berrios Over Unfair, Error-Riddled Assessments

Attorneys are asking a judge to force Berrios to adopt reforms and are seeking a monitor to oversee the process.

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