Politics

Series

Big Jim

West Virginia’s Conflicted Governor

The Real Bosses of New Jersey

How Unelected Officials Run Your Government

The Bad Bet

How Illinois Bet on Video Gambling and Lost

A User’s Guide to Democracy

Congress Works For You. Here’s How to Be a Better Boss.

The Money Game

Tracking the Illinois Governor’s Race

Politic-IL Insider

Analysis of Illinois’ Political Issues and Personalities

Free the Files

Help Unlock Election Spending

Buying Your Vote

Dark Money and Big Data

Stories

How Mike Pence’s Office Meddled in Foreign Aid to Reroute Money to Favored Christian Groups

Officials at USAID warned that favoring Christian groups in Iraq could be unconstitutional and inflame religious tensions. When one colleague lost her job, they said she had been “Penced.”

Trump Town

Tracking White House staffers, Cabinet members and political appointees across the government

While Trump Cracked Down on Immigration, a Republican Megadonor Sued for a Special Visa

Shipping supplies billionaires Richard and Elizabeth Uihlein frequently back “America First” candidates and causes. When it comes to their own company, it’s a different matter.

Where Do Illinois Lawmakers Stand on Impeachment?

Here’s a slice of news around the state this week, via our newsletter.

Inside the Trump Administration’s Chaotic Dismantling of the Federal Land Agency

Internal records from the Bureau of Land Management contradict what its chief told Congress about a plan to ship 200 D.C.-based career staff out West. The plan would weaken the agency, which stands between federal lands and oil, gas and mineral companies.

Report on Election Security Gains Attention, and a Sharp Rebuke

A Virginia cybersecurity company asserted many states were vulnerable to election system intrusions. Critics called the report flawed and questioned whether the company was looking to exploit legitimate anxiety about election security.

State Tax Breaks Rewarded Companies Connected to One Powerful Man. The Governor Just Killed Them — for Now.

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy vetoed the state’s controversial tax incentive program after a WNYC-ProPublica investigation into its connection to George E. Norcross III, and months of scrutiny.

Lawmakers Call for Ethics Reform to Deal With Billionaire Resort-Owning Governor

West Virginia legislators want Gov. Jim Justice to put The Greenbrier in a blind trust after a Charleston Gazette-Mail and ProPublica investigation. But the governor dismisses the report as “garbage.”

How a Video Gambling Company Helped Bankroll Local Politicians

And updates on the creation of new casinos around the state.

Welcome to the Greenbrier, the Governor-Owned Luxury Resort Filled With Conflicts of Interest

Gov. Jim Justice is West Virginia’s richest man and owns its most storied resort. When lobbyists and state agencies book there, he profits. Here’s how the governor, dubbed “Big Jim,” became West Virginia’s little Trump.

You Can Now See Who’s Contributing to 2020 Presidential Campaigns by State

ProPublica is making available the quarterly records of itemized contributions to presidential candidates by state. Track the money going into presidential campaigns using ProPublica’s interactive database, FEC Itemizer.

How Fundraisers Convinced Conservatives to Donate $10 Million — Then Kept Almost All of It.

Beginning in 2012, operatives used a federal PAC to target small-dollar donors, claiming they’d use the money to oppose Barack Obama. But that’s not what happened.

The Questions Mueller Didn’t Ask

The “Trump, Inc.” team listened to all of special counsel Robert Mueller’s testimony. We talk about what wasn’t said.

Federal Election Agency, Hungry for Funds, Now Pays for Officials to Get to Office

Congressional overseers raise concerns as the Election Assistance Commission picks up the tab for commissioners commuting to work from out of state.

Follow the 2020 Money Trail

Presidential candidates must file their campaign finances quarterly and their next deadline is July 15. Keep track of the money they’re raising and spending using ProPublica’s interactive database, FEC Itemizer.

Meet the Congressman Defending Questionable Tax Breaks for a Company Connected to His Rich Brother

After multiple issues have surfaced with Holtec International’s New Jersey tax break application, Rep. Donald Norcross, its biggest congressional supporter (and the brother of a Holtec board member) is playing defense.

A Huge Tax Break Went to a Politically Connected Company in New Jersey Despite Red Flags

Holtec International told New Jersey regulators that Ohio was competing for its new headquarters. But officials there stripped the firm of past tax awards for failing to create the jobs it promised.

More Instances of Fraud and Mismanagement Over New Jersey Tax Incentives Surface in New Report

A hospital connected to New Jersey political boss George E. Norcross III lied to win state tax breaks, a new special task force report says. The report details several other new pieces of evidence of Norcross’ influence over the tax incentive program.

The Tax Break Application Had a False Answer. Now the State Has Put the Break on Hold.

After WNYC and ProPublica identified a false answer on nuclear company Holtec International’s New Jersey tax break application, state officials have frozen the break pending further investigation.

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.

Emails Show How Much Pull Political Bosses Had Over State Tax Breaks

State officials scrambled to meet the demands of a lawyer at the firm where Philip Norcross, the brother of New Jersey political boss George E. Norcross III, is managing partner.

New York City’s Early Voting Plan Will Favor White, Affluent Voters, Advocacy Groups Say

In a letter, the New York Civil Liberties Union, Common Cause New York and the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law said the plan “will impose a severe burden on many of the City’s low-income voters.”

Three Ways Chicago’s City Council Keeps Its Committees Out of the Public Eye

And has thwarted efforts to increase transparency, too.

At Chicago’s City Council, Committees Are Used to Reward Political Favors and Fund Patronage

Without new oversight and accountability, City Hall cannot “escape corruption, mismanagement and waste,” the city watchdog says.

New Jersey Task Force Examines Tax Breaks for George Norcross Projects

A task force appointed by Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy says it will investigate projects connected to the state’s top political boss.

How Companies and Allies of One Powerful Democrat Got $1.1 Billion in Tax Breaks

Meet George Norcross. Nearly two thirds of $1.6 billion in tax incentives in his hometown of Camden, New Jersey, went to his own company, business partners, political allies and clients of his brother.

Have a Complaint About a South Carolina Judge? Help Us Investigate.

A judicial disciplinary office that’s supposed to monitor misconduct on the bench works in secret, shielding its records even from those who filed complaints. You can help bring more information to light.

South Carolina: The State Where Judges Rule Themselves in Secret

Ethics complaints against South Carolina’s circuit judges are buried in an opaque system that shields the accused.

Kentucky’s Secretary of State Turns Up Heat in Fight With Elections Board

Alison Lundergan Grimes removed the State Board of Elections’ executive director, a longtime critic of her actions, from a national committee on improving the country’s voting systems.

Chicago in a Single Tweet, and News From Elections Around the State

Illinois has among the most racially diverse set of political leaders in the country.

Trump, All About Winning, Sees Losses in Court Pile Up

The president has had scores of his initiatives shot down by federal judges. The Washington Post actually counted how many.

Promises, Tamales and Even Truth-Telling: Chicago’s Mayoral Race Hits the Final Stretch

In the campaign to succeed Rahm Emanuel, candidates Lori Lightfoot and Toni Preckwinkle talk neighborhoods and look for votes.

VA’s Private Care Program Headed for Tech Trouble, Review Finds

“These people are out of their minds,” one VA doctor said.

Kentucky Legislature Passes Bill Stripping Grimes of Authority Over State Board of Elections

The bill takes multiple steps to scale back the level of control Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes has asserted over the board in recent years.

Senators Urge IRS to Focus on Big-Time Tax Cheats, Citing ProPublica Stories

Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren and three fellow senators say the agency should do more to tackle financial crimes, even in the face of crippling budget cuts.

Chicago’s Election Signals Break from the Past — in Wards and at City Hall

In the 49th Ward, a newcomer from the left unseated the once progressive Joe Moore. And mayoral candidates Lori Lightfoot and Toni Preckwinkle tried to distance themselves from Rahm Emanuel, although the two top finishers have their own ties to the political establishment.

At Chicago City Hall, the Legislative Branch Rarely Does Much Legislating

The mayor dominates the City Council while aldermen reign over the “fiefdoms” of their wards.

Cook County Takes Steps to Erase Its Regional Gang Database

Commissioners are set to pass a law banning the database and requiring it to be destroyed.

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.

Trump Inauguration Chief Tom Barrack’s “Rules for Success” — “Trump, Inc.” Podcast

Under Barrack’s leadership, the presidential inauguration committee raised a record $107 million and a lot of questions.

The VA Is Paying for a Top Official’s Cross-Country Commute

Darin Selnick, the architect of the Trump administration’s controversial new policies on private health care for veterans, traveled to Washington from his home in California twice a month at taxpayer expense.

Former Trump Officials Are Supposed to Avoid Lobbying. Except 33 Haven’t.

The former officials — including ex-Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke — have found ways to sidestep the administration’s ethics pledge. At least 18 of them are now registered federal lobbyists and the rest work in jobs that closely resemble lobbying.

New Evidence Emerges of Possible Wrongdoing by Trump Inaugural Committee

The Trump inaugural appears to have overpaid for space at Trump’s Washington hotel, a possible violation of the law. Federal prosecutors are probing the festivities.

The Curious Case of a Kentucky Cybersecurity Contract

When Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes hired a firm called CyberScout to address the state’s election security, she was putting her faith in a company that had never tackled such a challenge and had drawn opposition from her staff. They questioned both the hiring process — and the results.

A Power Grab in Kentucky Sparks a Revolt

Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes expanded her sway over Kentucky’s election process with audacity, a willingness to fight — and a board that didn’t appear to be paying close attention. But the conflict isn’t over.

A Onetime Rising Democratic Star Faces Questions About Voter Privacy

Kentucky Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes, who attained national prominence for a failed Senate run against Mitch McConnell, is taking heat because her staff has routinely examined the voting records of state employees, job applicants and even potential political rivals.

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.

Will Pelosi Open the Floor to Bipartisan Ideas?

She has agreed to a more open process, but amendments backed by both parties have become a rarity in polarized Washington.

What We Learned From Collecting 100,000 Targeted Facebook Ads

More than 16,000 people have participated in our project to collect and analyze political ads on the social media platform during the midterm elections this year.

Updated: The Hidden Money Funding the Midterms

Strategies that let super PACs delay revealing their donors until after the election are gaining popularity among both Democrats and Republicans.

VA Was “Taken Advantage Of” by Paying Billions in Fees, Secretary Says

Officials vowed to improve the department’s private care program. But lawmakers voiced concerns about higher costs and worse health care for veterans.

The Laquan McDonald Shooting Keeps Exposing Critical Flaws in Illinois’ Freedom of Information Act

After Chicago officials denied records requests from the police shooting, the attorney general’s office did little to push the city to make documents public.

In Louisiana, More Than a Third of Ex-Lawmakers Continue to Try to Influence Their Old Colleagues

Jim Tucker, Troy Hebert and Nick Gautreaux are among 35 past lawmakers since 2010 who became lobbyists, agency heads, legislative influencers or state board appointees.

Elkhart’s Mayor Says He Won’t Run for Re-election, Amid Revelations of Misconduct in the Police Ranks

Since November, two police officers have been charged with misdemeanor battery; news reports have detailed the promotion of many officers with disciplinary records; and the police chief has resigned.

What Chicago Voters Can Look Forward to in a Very Crowded Mayoral Election

First, “Petitions are the first test of a campaign’s organization.”

How to Get Your Lawmakers to Listen

In our final installment of the User’s Guide to Democracy, we asked a live panel of congressional experts to help you stay engaged in politics after the midterms have ended.

Capitol Words

Members of Congress have plenty to say. We're here to keep track.

Why the Perfect Red-State Democrat Lost

Taylor Sappington is exactly the kind of candidate his party should want in Ohio. But he couldn’t get union support.

The Election Is Over. And Now the Next Elections Begin.

After Tuesday’s bluebath, Democrats dominate. But what comes next?

Aging Machines, Crowds, Humidity: Problems at the Polls Were Mundane but Widespread

Instead of fireworks from voter intimidation or cyberattacks, Americans grappled with the mundane frustrations of using dated equipment to vote in huge numbers.

How North Carolina’s Early Voting Changes Affect Voters

Residents of poor and rural counties have to drive farther than others to get to the polls during early balloting. Our map lets you explore the data.

The Informed Voter’s Guide to Making Sure Your Vote Counts

Worried about voting? Here’s what to know before you go.

Democratic Mailer in Texas Referred to Attorney General’s Office

A voter-registration form sent by the party had a pre-checked response indicating the person filling it out was a U.S. citizen, though that wasn’t true for everybody who received it.

In Illinois Governor’s Race, Rauner and Pritzker See a Clear Need to Promise Transparency

The Freedom of Information Act backlog starts with offices around the state, including the governor’s.

Pump and Trump

Donald Trump claims he only licensed his name for real estate projects developed by others. But an investigation of a dozen Trump deals shows deep family involvement in projects that often involved deceptive practices.

Citizens Count on the Illinois Freedom of Information Act but Keep Getting Shut Out

The office of the public access counselor was supposed to enforce open government laws. Nearly a decade later, it’s backlogged and frequently ignored.

Let Us Know About Voting Problems During the Midterm Elections

Here’s how you can participate in Electionland.

Election Experts: We Need You

If you’re an expert in election administration or election law, and you’re interested in helping us cover voting during the 2018 midterms, here’s how.

The Cost of the Office? Trump’s Billion-Dollar Loss — “Trump, Inc.” Podcast Extra

A new investigation by Forbes magazine finds the president’s net worth has dropped significantly since he took office.

How Much Money Is Being Spent in the Illinois Governor’s Race?

Bruce Rauner and JB Pritzker are setting new records — and we’re keeping track.

How Effective Is Your Representative?

… and other answers to your questions about how Congress really works.

Elliott Broidy’s All-Access Pass — “Trump, Inc.” Podcast

Our podcast investigation is back — and this time we’re looking at more than just the president’s family.

Bipartisan Furor as North Carolina Election Law Shrinks Early Voting Locations by Almost 20 Percent

Nearly half of the state’s counties are shutting down polling places, in part because of a law passed in June.

What’s in a Resume? A Lot, When It Comes to Trump Staffers

We’re compiling the resumes of political appointees for our Trump Town application — and some of them include telling information not revealed in financial disclosure forms.

New in Trump Town: Staffer Resumes

After discovering that the resumes of political appointees include information not revealed on their financial disclosure forms, Property of the People used data from Trump Town and Freedom of Information Act requests to obtain as many staff resumes as possible.

Voting in America Is WILD. Here’s How to Plan Ahead.

If you stay ready, you don’t have to get ready.

Congress Passes Measure to Protect Board that Monitors Nuclear Safety

The Energy Department had taken steps to curtail the reach and authority of the Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board. New Mexico’s senators are fighting back.

The Election DataBot: Now Even Easier

We’ll show you what’s really new, what’s important, where races are heating up, where the money is flowing and what news is happening. And those are just our first steps.

ProPublica’s User’s Guide to Democracy: Political Advertising

It’s hard to track, hard to regulate, but essential to understand.

Shedding Some Light on Dark Money Political Donors

Political nonprofits don’t have to disclose the names of their donors. But thanks to a good-government group, you can now find out about nearly $763 million in donations to these “dark money” organizations.

Note to the Next Mayor: Chicago Is a City of the World, But We Want the Neighborhoods Fixed, Too

In the community where Officer Jason Van Dyke shot Laquan McDonald four years ago, residents worry about policing, crime and inequality.

New Mexico Senators Speak Out Over Order They Say Would Hamper Nuclear Safety Board

They want Congress to suspend a move that would limit access to information about facilities and could hinder the panel’s ability to oversee worker health and safety.

Why Manafort and Cohen Thought They’d Get Away With It

It takes a special counsel to actually catch white-collar criminals.

Looking at the Archives From the Time of the 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago and Seeing Familiar Themes

Protesters villainized. Journalists blamed. Politicians exploiting public anxieties.

Louisiana Senate President Sank Ride-Sharing Bill. His Close Pal Sells Insurance to Cabs.

Widely supported legislation would have allowed Uber and Lyft to operate throughout Louisiana. But John Alario took steps to kill it, and colleagues point to his long-standing ties to a power broker who sells insurance to cab companies.

Michael Cohen and Paul Manafort: Two Cases That Shook the Trump World — “Trump, Inc.” Podcast Extra

Our “Trump, Inc.” colleagues break down the guilty plea and conviction for two of the president’s top aides.

Tax Case Flips the Script for Democrats and the GOP. But What About for Jurists?

A lawsuit attacking last year’s tax cut will test whether judicial conservatives align with Republicans, who find themselves defending Congress’ power, or with the states’ rights doctrine at the heart of their legal thinking.

Fund Meant to Protect Elections May Be Too Little, Too Late

The federal government has released data on how states will spend $380 million set aside for election infrastructure. But questions remain about how much it will help secure the 2018 election.

When Sarah Sanders and the ACLU Teamed Up for Voting Rights

Although the Trump administration wants to restrict access to the ballot box, its chief spokesperson once sued to overturn a ban on student voting.

Did You Go to a Washington Nationals Game With Supreme Court Nominee Brett Kavanaugh?

Trump’s pick is a baseball fan who racked up considerable debt buying season tickets. Help us figure out who went with the nominated judge.

Election 2016 Gets a Report Card

A report out today by the MIT Election Lab finds signs of progress and evidence of protest.

Congress Works for You. Here’s How to Be a Better Boss.

Sign up to get eight personalized emails that teach you how to make a difference.

Democrats Vow Investigation of VA’s Shadow Rulers After ProPublica Story

“This situation reeks of corruption and cronyism,” said the top Democrat on the House veterans committee.

Illinois House Candidate Will Walk for Votes — And Has To

Challenger Amanda Biela takes on the “Madigan machine,” and copes with a divided Republican Party.

Our Rebuttal to Kris Kobach’s Critique

Press representatives for the Kansas gubernatorial candidate have disseminated charges that a ProPublica article about Kobach’s campaigns for anti-immigration ordinances is inaccurate and biased. We respond.

Why Paul Manafort’s $15,000 Ostrich Jacket Wasn’t the Biggest Revelation as His Trial Begins — “Trump, Inc.” Podcast Extra

Two veteran reporters take listeners inside the proceedings, dissecting the trial’s opening and revealing why Manafort’s audacious defense might be doomed.

Kris Kobach’s Lucrative Trail of Courtroom Defeats

For years, the candidate for Kansas governor has defended towns that passed anti-immigration ordinances. The towns have lost big — but Kobach has fared considerably better.

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