Regulation

Series

Polluter’s Paradise

Environmental Impact in Louisiana

The Bad Bet

How Illinois Bet on Video Gambling and Lost

Trashed

Inside New York’s Deadly Private Garbage Industry

Louisiana’s Ethical Swamp

Lawmakers’ Conflicts of Interest

HUD’s House of Cards

Public Housing Failures

The Tax Divide

Inequities and Errors Riddle Cook County’s Property Tax Assessments

Fed Tapes

The Secret Recordings of Carmen Segarra

Freddie Mac

Playing the Mortgage Market

Nuclear Safety

After Fukushima

The Trade

Hold Companies, Executives and Government Officials Accountable

Stories

These Real Estate and Oil Tycoons Avoided Paying Taxes for Years

Donald Trump and other ultrarich Americans have earned billions, but they’ve also managed to repeatedly avoid paying any federal income tax by claiming huge losses on their businesses.

Protect Yourself From Salmonella This Thanksgiving

Because talking politics with your family is the only thing that should ruin your holiday.

How ProPublica Used Genomic Sequencing Data to Track an Ongoing Salmonella Outbreak

For a ProPublica reporter who did Ph.D. work in bioinformatics, data on bacterial DNA helped reveal how a once-rare salmonella strain spread through the chicken industry. Salmonella infantis is multidrug-resistant and is still making people sick.

How These Ultrawealthy Politicians Avoided Paying Taxes

IRS records reveal how Gov. Jim Justice, Gov. Jared Polis, former Education Secretary Betsy DeVos and other wealthy political figures slashed their taxes using strategies unavailable to most of their constituents.

Help ProPublica Report on Food Safety by Tracking the Poultry Supply Chain

It’s not publicly known which processing plants supply which stores. You can help us piece together the poultry supply chain by telling us where you purchased your chicken or turkey and what you bought.

America’s Food Safety System Failed to Stop a Salmonella Epidemic. It’s Still Making People Sick.

For years, a dangerous salmonella strain has sickened thousands and continues to spread through the chicken industry. The USDA knows about it. So do the companies. And yet, contaminated meat continues to be sold to consumers.

Look Up the Salmonella Rates Where Your Poultry Was Processed

How worried should you be about salmonella in your chicken or turkey? Chicken Checker lets you look up where it was processed and find out.

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.

Proposal to Rein in Mega IRAs Faces Lobbying Resistance From Retirement Industry

Several companies, including one backed by Peter Thiel, are fighting a proposal to curb giant retirement accounts and tighten rules for IRA investments.

McKinsey Never Told the FDA It Was Working for Opioid Makers While Also Working for the Agency

The consulting giant was helping Purdue Pharma and Johnson & Johnson fend off FDA regulations even as it helped shape FDA drug policy.

Head of California Utility Regulator Resigns Less Than One Year Into Six-Year Term

President Marybel Batjer’s resignation comes after numerous controversies and a ProPublica and Bay City News Foundation report on $200 million in missing funds.

Entergy Resisted Upgrading New Orleans’ Power Grid. When Ida Hit, Residents Paid the Price.

The power company failed to build a stronger system after hurricanes repeatedly pummeled Louisiana. Then Ida knocked out power for more than a week. “I don’t think it’s just Mother Nature,” said one resident. “This is neglect.”

Searching for Solutions to Alaska’s High Rate of Deadly Air Crashes

Our investigation revealed that Alaska has a growing share of the country’s deadly crashes from small commercial flights. Here’s what experts say could be done to improve aviation safety in the state.

“People Will Lose Their Lives”: Texas Isn’t Doing Enough to Prevent Carbon Monoxide Deaths, Critics Say

Months after the deadly gas killed at least 17 Texans during a massive winter storm, lawmakers have failed to take significant action to protect most of the state’s residents.

“Half of the Family Just Disappeared Overnight”

Following a 911 call about a family that had fainted, first responders arrived at the house and knocked on the door. No one answered, so they left. Inside, an entire family was being poisoned by carbon monoxide.

Fatal Crash Renews Concerns About Safety of Alaska Aviation

A sightseeing flight near Ketchikan, Alaska, crashed last week, killing the pilot and five passengers. So far this year, 13 people have died in three crashes of small commercial planes.

A Postal Worker Begged for Stronger COVID-19 Protections. She Ended Up Spending Six Weeks in the Hospital.

The limited response to postal workers’ repeated appeals for help provides a window into the failures of two federal agencies: the Postal Service, which is one of the country’s largest employers, and OSHA, which is supposed to protect workers.

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.

In Alaska, Commercial Aviation Is a Lifeline. The State Is Also Home to a Growing Share of the Country’s Deadly Crashes.

Alaska’s terrain and infrastructure pose unique challenges when flying. Some say the Federal Aviation Administration has been slow to account for these hazards, leaving pilots and customers to fend for themselves, sometimes at risk to their lives.

How We Tallied Alaska Aviation Deaths

Although Alaska has seen a spate of midair collisions in recent years, detailed analyses of crash patterns involving small commercial aircraft have been limited. Our investigation bridges some of these gaps.

What We Know About Alaska’s Recent Series of Fatal Flight Collisions

In the past five years, Alaska had five fatal midair collisions involving commercial operators. The rest of the U.S. hasn’t had any since 2009.

ProPublica’s Tax Revelations Lead to Calls for Reforms — and Investigation

The Secret IRS Files series has already sparked a conversation about the fairness of the U.S. tax code and raised privacy concerns.

The Government Is Here to Help Small Businesses — Unless They’re Cooperatives

The Small Business Administration’s rules prevent it from helping most employee- and consumer-owned cooperatives, even though Congress specifically asked it to. The result? Co-ops are largely cut out of the mainstream financial system.

We Reported on How California Rarely Cracks Down on Oil Companies. Now Regulators Have Fined One Company $1.5 Million.

After years of lax enforcement, California regulators slapped hefty fines on an oil company for nearly 600 violations. But concerns remain whether that penalty will ever be paid.

Texas Enabled the Worst Carbon Monoxide Poisoning Catastrophe in Recent U.S. History

They used their car to stay warm when a winter storm brought down the Texas power grid. In a state that doesn’t require carbon monoxide alarms in homes, they had no warning they were poisoning themselves.

Texas no exige alarmas de monóxido de carbono. Sus residentes más vulnerables pagaron el precio

Usaron su auto para calentarse cuando una tormenta invernal tumbó la red eléctrica de Texas. En un estado que no exige alarmas para detectar el monóxido de carbono en las viviendas, no tenían advertencia alguna de que se estaban intoxicando.

Natural Gas Is Getting Cheaper. Thousands Are Paying More To Heat Their Homes Anyway.

Charlotte Lane was a top lobbyist for utility companies. Now she regulates them. A little-known law she previously pushed has allowed them to charge West Virginians for expensive pipeline projects with little oversight and few consumer protections.

Why There’s So Much Investigative Journalism About Utility Companies

Power and water touch the lives of everyone. Someone has to hold the companies that deliver them to account.

Are California Oil Companies Complying With the Law? Even Regulators Often Don’t Know.

This oil and gas regulatory agency was given more resources to protect the public and environment. But with its “useless” record-keeping system and lax enforcement practices, it still struggles to hold delinquent companies accountable.

“Power Companies Get Exactly What They Want”: How Texas Repeatedly Failed to Protect Its Power Grid Against Extreme Weather

Texas regulators and lawmakers knew about the grid’s vulnerabilities for years, but time and again they furthered the interests of large electricity providers.

Utility Companies Owe Millions to This State Regulatory Agency. The Problem? The Agency Can’t Track What It’s Owed.

When a whistleblower alleged that $200 million was missing from the California Public Utilities Commission, the agency says it took steps to collect. Yet an audit uncovered more missing money and cited flaws in the agency’s accounting system.

The Return of the Regulators

Like them or revile them, federal agencies seem poised to regain some of their traditional powers under the new administration. But it’s not clear how far President Biden wants them to go.

The SEC Undermined a Powerful Weapon Against White-Collar Crime

Now the lawyer who wrote the rules that gave Wall Street insiders a big financial incentive to report crimes to the SEC is suing the government for changing them.

She Noticed $200 Million Missing, Then She Was Fired

Alice Stebbins was hired to fix the finances of California’s powerful utility regulator. She was fired after finding $200 million for the state’s deaf, blind and poor residents was missing.

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.

The Boeing 737 MAX Is Cleared to Fly. Families of People Who Died on the Planes Wait for Answers.

One federal agency says the plane, implicated in 346 deaths, is now safe and the investigation is done. Another federal agency says it can’t hand over information until the Ethiopian government is finished investigating.

The Elk, the Tourists and the Missing Coal Country Jobs

A proposed wildlife center got a $12 million federal grant after promising to bring millions of dollars and thousands of tourists to eastern Kentucky. Four years later, residents are still waiting for the jobs they were promised.

A Wealthy Governor’s Coal Company Might Get a Big Break From His Own Regulators

West Virginia environmental regulators are proposing fine reductions for water pollution violations from a coal company owned by Gov. Jim Justice, even after the company promised to clean up its mines.

Senate Democrats Ask Banking Regulator to Explain Handling of “Redlining” Investigations

The letter comes after a story by ProPublica and The Capitol Forum outlined how the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency shelved investigations into discrimination at Bank of America and other lenders.

Trump Financial Regulator Quietly Shelved Discrimination Probes Into Bank of America and Other Lenders

At least six investigations into discriminatory mortgage loan “redlining” have been halted or stalled — against staff recommendations — under the Trump administration’s Office of the Comptroller of the Currency.

Oyster, Air Fryer and Bicycle Companies Say Their Goods Are Essential to Fighting Coronavirus So They Can Get Tariff Relief

Trump’s trade agency is taking applications for products that should escape new tariffs. Companies making everything from shoes to hors d’oeuvres are submitting justifications that are … creative.

GM Closed the Lordstown Auto Plant. Now Ohio May Force a $60 Million Repayment.

General Motors received tens of millions of dollars in tax breaks to operate a massive assembly plant in Lordstown, Ohio, until 2027. The plant closed last year, and the state may force a repayment of more than $60 million, documents show.

Senate Investigation Criticizes the IRS for Failing to Oversee Free Filing Program

Millions of Americans have spent billions on TurboTax and other tax prep that they shouldn’t have. The Senate’s Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations recommends the IRS advertise the free filing option.

Amazon’s New Competitive Advantage: Putting Its Own Products First

Brands have long been able to bid for the premier slot at the top left of Amazon’s listings, but during the pandemic the online retailer has begun using this position for its private-label items, raising antitrust concerns.

Why a Struggling Rust Belt City Pinned Its Revival on a Self-Chilling Beverage Can

Welcome to Youngstown, Ohio, home of Chill-Can, the self-chilling beverage container you’ve probably never heard of. Officials have gambled millions of dollars and demolished a neighborhood for the product. Not one job has been created yet.

Walmart Hid That It Was Under Criminal Investigation for Its Opioid Sales, Lawyers Say

States and counties suing the giant retailer over its drug sales accused it in court of failing to hand over huge quantities of documents — including about the criminal case — whose existence was revealed in a recent ProPublica investigation.

The Senator Who Dumped His Stocks Before the Coronavirus Crash Has Asked Ethics Officials for a “Complete Review”

After ProPublica’s report that Richard Burr dumped stocks after reassuring the public about coronavirus readiness, he said he welcomed an ethics investigation.

What Other States Can Learn From What Happened in Illinois After It Legalized Gambling

Attention: Georgia, Indiana, Missouri, Mississippi and Pennsylvania. Accel Entertainment became the largest video gambling operator in Illinois. Now it has its eyes on you.

Beginner’s Luck: How One Video Gambling Company Worked the Odds and Took Over a State

Funded in part by his wealthy family and aided by a personal connection at the Illinois Gaming Board, Andrew Rubenstein’s Accel Entertainment now owns a third of the state’s video gambling machines, making it the biggest video gambling operator in the nation.

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.

Utah Representative Proposes Bill to Stop Payday Lenders From Taking Bail Money from Borrowers

Debtors prisons were banned by Congress in 1833, but a ProPublica article that revealed the sweeping powers of high-interest lenders in Utah caught the attention of one legislator. Now, he’s trying to do something about it.

Do You Make, Test or Market Car Seats or Boosters?

Do you or did you work with any of the booster seat makers? How were they tested and marketed? We want to hear from you.

The Most Important Thing Every Parent Needs to Know About Car Seat Safety

ProPublica has published a report on how one booster seat maker put children at risk. For parents, here’s some of the most pressing information our reporters discovered during their investigation.

Evenflo, Maker of the “Big Kid” Booster Seat, Put Profits Over Child Safety

Internal video of side-impact tests shows that children could be injured or killed in Evenflo's “Big Kid” booster seats. But the company continued to market them as “side-impact tested.”

How Corporate Lawyers Made It Harder to Punish Companies That Destroy Electronic Evidence

Federal judges were penalizing big companies for destroying emails and other evidence. So the companies lobbied to have the rules changed. Since then, a ProPublica analysis shows, the rate at which judges issue penalties has fallen by more than half.

The IRS Decided to Get Tough Against Microsoft. Microsoft Got Tougher.

For years, the company has moved billions in profits to Puerto Rico to avoid taxes. When the IRS pushed it to pay, Microsoft protested that the agency wasn’t being nice. Then it aggressively fought back in court, lobbied Congress and changed the law.

The IRS Tried to Crack Down on Rich People Using an “Abusive” Tax Deduction. It Hasn’t Gone So Well.

The tax agency, Justice Department and Congress have all taken aim at a much-abused deduction exploited by wealthy investors. Yet the crackdown is having minimal impact, costing the Treasury billions.

IRS Reforms Free File Program, Drops Agreement Not to Compete With TurboTax

The changes come after ProPublica’s reporting showed how TurboTax maker Intuit tricked customers into paying for tax prep they could have gotten for free.

How Oil Companies Avoided Environmental Accountability After 10.8 Million Gallons Spilled

Louisiana still hasn’t finished investigating 540 oil spills after Hurricane Katrina. The state is likely leaving millions of dollars in remediation fines on the table — money that environmental groups say they need as storms get stronger.

In “Cancer Alley,” Toxic Polluters Face Little Oversight From Environmental Regulators

Louisiana’s Department of Environmental Quality has been accused of protecting the chemical industry it regulates. The agency is facing cutbacks as new plants are slated for communities that already have some of the country’s most toxic air.

How an Environmental Regulator Became Known for Protecting Industry

In the late 1980s, Louisiana’s governor made environmental protection a priority. He only lasted one term. Now, the state’s Department of Environmental Quality has a reputation for going easy on industry.

How McKinsey Makes Its Own Rules

The consulting giant, which likes to compare itself to the Marines and the Catholic Church, has a habit of disregarding rules and norms in its government work.

The Price of America’s Inability to Track Child Deaths from Abuse and Neglect? Sometimes, More Lives.

Reliable statistics on deaths and near-deaths from abuse and neglect can help shape better policies to protect children. A new report shows the breadth of government failures to collect and report this information.

The Law Says She Should Have Been Protected From Birth. Instead, She Was Left in the Care of Her Drug-Addicted Mother, Who Killed Her.

Hundreds of thousands of children are abused or neglected in the U.S. each year, but only one federal law directly addresses this tragic reality for children not in state care. The law is routinely violated — with heartbreaking consequences.

Recreational Marijuana Becomes Legal in Illinois on Jan. 1. Here’s How Communities Across the State Are Dealing With the New Law.

After some confusion, Chicago officials said residents who smoke marijuana in their backyard or on their balcony will not be arrested or ticketed.

Health Officials in “Cancer Alley” Will Study if Living Near a Controversial Chemical Plant Causes Cancer

Louisiana officials will knock on every door within 2.5 kilometers of the only plant in the country that emits chloroprene, which the EPA calls a likely carcinogen. An analysis said the airborne cancer risk near the plant was the highest in the nation.

YouTube Promised to Label State-Sponsored Videos But Doesn’t Always Do So

We found more than 50 government-funded channels from countries including Russia, Iran and the United States that the Google subsidiary failed to flag.

What Could Happen if a $9.4 Billion Chemical Plant Comes to “Cancer Alley”

In St. James Parish, Louisiana, a Taiwanese industrial giant seems likely to be granted a permit to build a billion-dollar plastics plant. Its proposed emissions could triple levels of cancer-causing chemicals in one of the most toxic areas of the U.S.

New EPA Rules Aim to Reduce Toxic Emissions. But Many “Cancer Alley” Chemical Plants Won’t Have to Change.

The proposed rules reducing emissions across the country would not apply to many of Louisiana’s chemical plants. These facilities release tons of dangerous, cancer-causing chemicals like ethylene oxide, and more plants are on the way.

Even Louisiana’s Wealthier Neighborhoods Can’t Escape Toxic Air in “Cancer Alley”

Industrial development usually targets poor communities, but Ascension Parish is one of the richest, and most toxic, places in Louisiana. Some residents say the financial benefits of living there outweigh the risks.

How We Found New Chemical Plants Are Being Built in South Louisiana’s Most Polluted Areas

ProPublica and The Times-Picayune and The Advocate investigated the potential cancer-causing toxicity in the air. Using EPA data, public records requests and more, we found that some of the country’s most toxic air will likely get worse.

Welcome to “Cancer Alley,” Where Toxic Air Is About to Get Worse

Air quality has improved for decades across the U.S., but Louisiana is backsliding. Our analysis found that a crush of new industrial plants will increase concentrations of cancer-causing chemicals in predominantly black and poor communities.

I’ve Investigated Industrial Pollution for 35 Years. We’re Going Backwards.

Decades ago, Mark Schleifstein and his colleagues exposed environmental threats coming out of industrial plants all along the Louisiana section of the Mississippi River. A lot of those plants never went away, and even more are moving in.

The Obscure Charges That Utility Companies Add to Your Bills

A New Jersey utility sparked outrage for charging customers to subsidize nuclear plants. We checked the bills. Turns out, that was just one of 16 lurking surcharges.

Inside TurboTax’s 20-Year Fight to Stop Americans From Filing Their Taxes for Free

Using lobbying, the revolving door and “dark pattern” customer tricks, Intuit fended off the government’s attempts to make tax filing free and easy, and created its multi-billion-dollar franchise.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren Asks Why the Justice Department Went Easy on Big Banks

After an article by ProPublica and American Banker examining how the DOJ softened settlements with RBS and Barclays, the presidential candidate blasts settlements that let banks “evade accountability.”

How a Video Gambling Company Helped Bankroll Local Politicians

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

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.

When Fracking Companies Own the Gas Beneath Your Land

Natural gas companies have cut down forests and paved over farms on West Virginia private lands, calling it “reasonably necessary” to access subsurface gas they own the rights to. A new ProPublica documentary chronicles the legal battles.

A Resolution Condemning Pipeline Challengers Passed Easily. A Pipeline Lobbyist Wrote It.

A Dominion Energy lobbyist drafted the resolution and bought meals for its supporters in West Virginia’s legislature. He says there’s nothing unusual about it. The public wasn’t told.

Fracking Companies Lost on Trespassing, but a Court Just Gave Them a Different Win

As conflicts continue between West Virginians and the state’s natural gas industry, complex legal cases are helping some residents, but not others.

Anatomy of the Gambling Bill

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

A False Answer, a Big Political Connection and $260 Million in Tax Breaks

Holtec International gave a false answer in a 2014 New Jersey tax break application connected to political boss George E. Norcross III, a Holtec board member. Five days after WNYC and ProPublica asked about it, lawyers called it “inadvertent” and asked the state to correct it.

How the IRS Gave Up Fighting Political Dark Money Groups

Six years after it was excoriated for allegedly targeting conservative organizations, the agency has largely given up on regulating an entire category of nonprofits. The result: More dark money gushes into the political system.

The IRS Tried to Take on the Ultrawealthy. It Didn’t Go Well.

Ten years ago, the tax agency formed a special team to unravel the complex tax-lowering strategies of the nation’s wealthiest people. But with big money — and Congress — arrayed against the team, it never had a chance.

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.

Why Aren’t Hedge Funds Required to Fight Money Laundering?

A long-standing effort to make big investment funds abide by the same rules that banks and brokerages follow has bogged down. The fund industry says it supports the rules — it just has a few quibbles.

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.

Do You Know Someone Struggling With Video Gambling? ​Help Us Understand Video Slot and Poker Addiction in Illinois.

More than 30,000 video gambling machines are scattered across Illinois, and gambling addiction appears to be on the rise.

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.

Trump’s Dark Deregulation

Passing legislation and rolling back regulatory rules are hard. There are quieter, easier ways to cut down on governmental oversight. Here are five ways the Trump administration is doing so.

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.

How the Cook County Assessor Failed Taxpayers

Joseph Berrios' error-ridden commercial and industrial assessments punish property owners, benefit lawyers.

How We Analyzed Commercial and Industrial Property Assessments in Chicago and Cook County

An in-depth analysis of hundreds of thousands of property tax records under Cook County Assessor Joseph Berrios.

These Professors Make More Than a Thousand Bucks an Hour Peddling Mega-Mergers

The economists are leveraging their academic prestige with secret reports justifying corporate concentration. Their predictions are often wrong and consumers pay the price.

The American Way

President Obama promised to fight corporate concentration. Eight years later, the airline industry is dominated by just four companies. And you’re paying for it.

Fire Fight

Far outside DC, there’s a campaign finance fight taking place over fire safety. And it’s putting families at risk.

The Fire Sprinkler War, State by State

From New York to Minnesota, how homebuilders headed off mandatory fire sprinklers with help from friendly legislators.

How Philanthropist David Rubenstein Helped Save a Tax Break Billionaires Love

A private equity mogul lauded for patriotic donations has quietly worked to protect one source of his wealth — the carried-interest loophole.

Inside the New York Fed: Secret Recordings and a Culture Clash

A confidential report and a fired examiner’s hidden recorder penetrate the cloistered world of Wall Street’s top regulator — and its history of deference to banks.

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