Patricia Callahan

Reporter

Photo of Patricia Callahan

Patricia Callahan is a reporter covering business.

Callahan previously worked at the Chicago Tribune, where she was on the investigative team since 2004. There, she launched “Hidden Hazards,” a series that showed federal safety regulators were repeatedly failing to protect children from dangerous products. This work prompted the recall of more than 1 million baby products, spurred Congress to pass the largest overhaul of consumer product safety laws in a generation, and won the 2008 Pulitzer Prize for investigative reporting.

In 2012, Callahan and colleagues showed how harmful chemicals used as flame retardants on furniture were migrating into people’s bodies while providing no meaningful protection from fires. The work led to the repeal of a rule responsible for the use of these chemicals; it also won the Goldsmith prize and was a finalist for the 2013 Pulitzer for investigative reporting. Most recently, Callahan and a colleague were 2017 Pulitzer finalists for a series exposing how Illinois officials steered low-income adults with developmental and intellectual disabilities into substandard privately run group homes, then hid harm and even deaths.

Before the Tribune, Callahan worked at the Wall Street Journal, covering the food, pharmaceuticals and publishing industries. There, she revealed how newspaper publishers — including the Journal’s parent company — financially abandoned children injured or killed on their newspaper delivery routes. She came to the Journal from the Denver Post, where she was part of the team that covered the Columbine High School shootings.

Trish graduated from Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism and was a Henry Luce Scholar in Bangkok.

House Introduces a Sweeping Booster Seat Safety Law to Protect Children in Car Crashes

The Booster Seat Safety Act was prompted by a ProPublica investigation and a subsequent congressional probe that found manufacturers had misled parents about the safety of booster seats and endangered children’s lives.

More Than Half of America’s 100 Richest People Exploit Special Trusts to Avoid Estate Taxes

Secret IRS records show billionaires use trusts that let them pass fortunes to their heirs without paying estate tax. Will Congress end a tax shelter that has cost the Treasury untold billions?

House Bill Would Blow Up the Massive IRAs of the Superwealthy

The proposed reform stems from a ProPublica story that detailed how PayPal founder Peter Thiel had amassed $5 billion, tax-free, in a Roth IRA. If the bill passes, Roth accounts would be capped at $20 million for high-income individuals.

The Number of People With IRAs Worth $5 Million or More Has Tripled, Congress Says

After ProPublica revealed that some wealthy Americans hold Roth IRAs worth hundreds of millions — compared to $39,000 for the average account holder — Democrats requested data. It shows more than 28,000 people with IRAs worth $5 million or more.

State Attorneys General Push Federal Government to Follow the Law and Finally Create Side-Impact Tests for Kids’ Car Seats

A co-leader of a group of 18 attorneys general calls ProPublica’s story about the lack of side-impact tests for children’s booster seats “horrifying” and says it’s about time federal regulators stepped in to protect kids.

Campaign to Rein in Mega IRA Tax Shelters Gains Steam in Congress Following ProPublica Report

One proposal would ban the kinds of transactions that helped Peter Thiel amass $5 billion in his Roth; another would cap how much could be saved tax-free in these retirement accounts. But two unrelated bills could undermine those efforts.

The Ultrawealthy Have Hijacked Roth IRAs. The Senate Finance Chair Is Eyeing a Crackdown.

Sen. Ron Wyden, chair of the Senate Finance Committee, said he planned to rein in tax breaks for gargantuan Roth retirement accounts after ProPublica exposed how the superrich used them to shield their fortunes from taxes

Lord of the Roths: How Tech Mogul Peter Thiel Turned a Retirement Account for the Middle Class Into a $5 Billion Tax-Free Piggy Bank

Roth IRAs were intended to help average working Americans save, but IRS records show Thiel and other ultrawealthy investors have used them to amass vast untaxed fortunes.

CDC Shut Down a Lab Involved in Making Faulty Coronavirus Tests

A CDC lab involved in making faulty coronavirus tests sent to state and local officials early in the pandemic was closed down hours after an October investigation by ProPublica exposed key mistakes the CDC made in manufacturing those tests.

Congressional Investigation Finds Many Booster Seat Makers “Endangered” Children’s Lives After Review of “Meaningless Safety Testing”

The congressional subcommittee launched its inquiry in response to a ProPublica investigation, finding several companies created tests that were “nearly impossible to fail.” Now it’s asking state and federal regulators to investigate too.

House Subcommittee Says Proposed Booster Seat Safety Rules Fall Short

Following a ProPublica investigation, members of Congress say “unsafe” booster seats are being sold to parents while regulators fail to protect children.

Inside the Fall of the CDC

How the world’s greatest public health organization was brought to its knees by a virus, the president and the capitulation of its own leaders, causing damage that could last much longer than the coronavirus.

The Trump Administration Is Backing Out of a $647 Million Ventilator Deal After ProPublica Investigated the Price

The government overpaid by hundreds of millions for Philips ventilators, says a House investigation spurred by ProPublica reporting. Now that deal is off and Congress is scrutinizing other coronavirus deals made by trade adviser Peter Navarro.

The White House Paid Up to $500 Million Too Much for These Ventilators, Congressional Investigators Say

A House panel says “gullible” White House negotiators overpaid for Phillips ventilators, and it has asked the Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General to investigate evidence of fraud in the deal.

Inside the Trump Administration’s Decision to Leave the World Health Organization

Despite Trump’s declared exit from the WHO, officials continued working toward reforms and to prevent withdrawal. This week, they were told they must justify any cooperation with the WHO on the grounds of national security and public health safety.

Congress Is Investigating Whether a Ventilator Company Is Gouging the U.S. — and Why the Government Is Letting It Happen

A congressional subcommittee is questioning a federal decision to pay quadruple the price for the commercial version of a ventilator Royal Philips N.V. had developed with taxpayer funds.

A Company Promised Cheap Ventilators to the Government, Never Delivered and Is Now Charging Quadruple the Price for New Ones

Royal Philips N.V. agreed in September to sell 10,000 ventilators to the U.S. for $3,280 each. It did not deliver. But the Dutch company just announced a new deal with the government. This time, it’s charging roughly $15,000 each.

Taxpayers Paid Millions to Design a Low-Cost Ventilator for a Pandemic. Instead, the Company Is Selling Versions of It Overseas.

As coronavirus sweeps the globe, there is not a single Trilogy Evo Universal ventilator — developed with government funds — in the U.S. stockpile. Meanwhile, Royal Philips N.V. has sold higher-priced versions to clients around the world.

Senators Call on Highway Administration to Finalize Car Seat Test Rules

Two senators, citing ProPublica’s reporting on the dangers of Evenflo’s booster seats, want NHTSA to finish rules that Congress mandated 20 years ago.

House Subcommittee Opens Investigation of Evenflo, Maker of “Big Kid” Booster Seats

The probe comes after ProPublica’s story showing that the company put marketing of its “Big Kid” booster seats over child safety.

Follow ProPublica

Latest Stories from ProPublica