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The Center for Public Integrity is a nonprofit organization dedicated to producing original, responsible investigative journalism on issues of public concern. The Center is non-partisan and non-advocacy and committed to transparent and comprehensive reporting both in the United States and around the world. The Center's mission is to produce original investigative journalism about significant public issues to make institutional power more transparent and accountable. Located in Washington, DCmarker, the Center for Public Integrity has conducted investigations into many topics; the environment, public health, public accountability, federal and state lobbying, war profiteering, and financial disclosure, all of which have a public integrity component.

In 1997, the Center launched the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists(ICIJ), a project of the Center for Public Integrity that globally extends the Center’s watchdog style of journalism in the public interest by marshaling the talents of the world’s leading investigative reporters.

The Center releases its reports via its web site, press releases, and news advisories to all forms of media; broadcast, print, online, and blogs, throughout the U.S. and around the globe. The Center's 2004, "The Buying of the President" book was on the New York Times bestseller list for three months after its January 2004 publication. The Center also collects and organizes the public records it gathers into online databases so that other reporters and the public have access to the information. In 2006, Slate media critic Jack Shafer described the Center as having "broken as many stories as almost any big-city daily in the last couple of decades".

The Center receives funding from a large variety of foundations, philanthropic, and private donors. The Center does not accept anonymous donations, government grants and does not lobby, promote or endorse any legislation, policy, political party, or organization.

Origin of the Name

In an essay marking the 10th anniversary of the Center's founding, Lewis wrote:

History

The Founding (1989-1990)

The Center was founded in March 1989 by Charles Lewis after an 11-year career as a television reporter that included a stint as correspondent Mike Wallace's producer for the CBS News program 60 Minutes. Frustrated by his sense that the current system failed to adequately investigate corruption in Washington, Lewis quit his job at CBS and founded the Center. At the time, he wrote:After starting out with headquarters in his home in Northern Virginia, Lewis began by securing funding and garnering support from a variety of a prominent public figures—early advisers included Arthur Schlesinger Jr., James MacGregor Burns, James David Barber, Kathleen Hall Jamieson, Father Theodore Hesburgh, Bill Kovach and Hodding Carter III..

The Lewis Era (1990-2004)

In May 1990, Lewis used the money he had raised and his house as collateral to open an office in Washington at 1910 K Street, N.W.. In its first year, the Center's budget was $200,000. By the 1992 elections, Lewis had added three full-time staffers. The Center continued to grow over the years, relocating to 1634 I Street, N.W. in 1994, and by 2006 it employed more than three dozen employees. Its offices are now located at 910 17th Street, N.W.

In 1996 the Center launched its first Web site, but did not begin to publish reports online until 1999.

Lewis served as director until January 2005. At the time of his departure, the Center claimed to have published 14 books and more than 250 investigative reports and have a working staff of 40 full-time workers based in Washington partnering with a network of writers and editors in more than 25 countries. Years later, Lewis said he decided to leave his position at the Center because "he didn't want it to become 'an institution that was Chuck's Excellent Adventure.'"

The departure surprised and upset philanthropists Herb and Marion Sandler, who had partially funded the Center's activities.

Lewis has continued a draw a salary. According to filings with the IRS, he received $99,000 from the Center in 2005 and $86,000 in 2006. This is a reduction from his previous salary, which was reported at $180,000 at the time he stepped down as executive director.

The Baskin-Rawls Era (2005-2007)

In December 2004, the Center's board of directors choose a successor, television journalist Roberta Baskin. Baskin came to the Center after directing consumer investigations for ABC News's 20/20 and serving as Washington correspondent for PBS's NOW with Bill Moyers.

After the handover from the founder and long-time director Lewis, many of the Center's senior staff also left the organization.

In September 2005, the Center announced that it had discovered a pattern of plagiarism in the past work of staff writer Robert Moore for the Center's 2002 book Capitol Offenders. The Center responded by hiring a copy editor to review all of Moore's work, issuing a revised version of Capitol Offenders, sending letters of apology to all of the reporters whose work was plagiarized, authoring a new corrections policy and returning an award the book received from Investigative Reporters and Editors. Moore went on to work for a political consulting firm that specializes in opposition research. In March 2007, Moore told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that the Center's official version "is not accurate in telling the full story of why I left the center," but did not elaborate.

In early 2006, The National Journal reported that Center staffer Bob Williams alleged he was fired for raising concerns about a no-bid consulting contract then-Managing Director Wendell Rawls received from the Tennessee Valley Authority, "where an old friend served as chairman." Williams told a reporter he was asked to leave shortly after challenging Rawls to "step outside" in response to Rawls impugning his masculinity. Baskin and Rawls declined to comment on Williams' accusations about his departure, but both disputed his contention that Rawls' contract was an example of cronyism and later contested the story's account of a "heated" confrontation at a staff meeting. Writing in 2008, Baskin alleged that Williams "physically threatened" Rawls at the meeting in question and said that "Williams was angry and hurt about having to leave and cannot possibly be viewed as a credible source..."

Baskin held the position until May 24, 2006, when Rawls stepped in to serve as acting director. Writing in 2007, Lewis would describe the Center's output during Baskin's tenure as "generally unremarkable," lacking "the pop" of work from his tenure, and also report that fundraising for 2005 and 2006 amounted to only half the total Lewis raised during 2004, his final year.

Baskin would later express surprise at Lewis' criticism while making a veiled referenced to the "high" salary he continued to earn after his retirement.

The Buzenberg Era (2007-Present)

In December 2006, Rawls was succeeded by William E. Buzenberg, a vice president at American Public Media / Minnesota Public Radio.

Buzenberg was first interviewed for the position in 2004 during the hiring process that ultimately lead to the selection of his predecessor, Roberta Baskin.

With traditional newsrooms shrinking and budgets for in-depth investigative reporting being cut in 2009, The Center for Public Integrity was dramatically boosting its productivity and visibility, with daily reporting on its PaperTrail blog in addition to major investigations. The Center’s report, Who’s Behind the Financial Meltdown?, looking at the roots of the global financial crisis, was featured in numerous media outlets, leading Columbia Journalism Review to ask, “Why hasn’t a newspaper or magazine done this?” More than 100 newspapers, magazines, wire services and web sites cited the Center’s report, The Climate Change Lobby Explosion, an analysis of Senate disclosure records showing the number of lobbyists on global warming had grown more than 300 percent in just five years, and that Washington now boasts more than four climate lobbyists for every member of Congress. Tobacco Underground, an ongoing project tracing the global trade in smuggled cigarettes, produced by the Center’s International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, was honored with the prestigious Renner Award for Crime Reporting from Investigative Reporters and Editors (IRE), and the Overseas Press Club Award for Best Online International Reporting.

According to a report by Lewis, "the number of full-time staff was reduced by one-third" in early 2007. By December 2007, the number of full-time staff had dropped to 25, down from a high of 40. At the time, Buzenberg said "It's a great, great place, but I will not mislead you... [Lewis] quite frankly left the center in great shape financially, but when you have a visionary who leaves, how do you continue? 'With difficulty' is the answer."

Baskin publicly disputed Buzenberg's claims in a letter to the American Journalism Review where she wrote:

In 2008, Lewis reflected on the transition period following his resigination and said:

Notable Work

  • The Center's first report, America's Frontline Trade Officials reported that nearly one half of White House trade officials over a 15-year period became lobbyists for countries or overseas corporations after they left public service. According to Lewis, it "prompted a Justice Department ruling, a General Accounting Office report, a Congressional hearing, was cited by four presidential candidates in 1992 and was partly responsible for an executive order in January 1993 by President Clinton, placing a lifetime ban on foreign lobbying by White House trade officials."
  • Fat Cat Hotel (1996)
    • "This Public report, written by Margaret Ebrahim, won the 1996 Sigma Delta Chi Award for Public Service in Newsletter Journalism. The report profiles 75 fund-raisers and donors who stayed overnight in the Clinton White House."
  • The Buying of the President, 1996, 2000, 2004
  • Windfalls of War
  • LobbyWatch
  • Patriot Act II
  • Power Trips
  • Silent Partners


Honors

The Center's work has been honored by journalism awards from PEN USA, Investigative Reporters and Editors, the Society of Professional Journalists, the Association of Capital Reporters and Editors, the National Press Foundation, the Joan Shorenstein Center on the Press, Politics and Public Policy and others </<>ref>. A full listing may be found here.

Spinoffs

Created in 1997, the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists network includes 92 leading investigative reporters and editors in 48 countries. The group has collaborated on numerous online and printed reports on corporate crime, arms trafficking, terrorism, U.S. military policy and human rights issues. Global Integrity, another international project, was launched in 2001 to systematically track and report on openness, accountability and the rule of law in various countries.

Funding

The Center for Public Integrity is supported by individual contributions and grants awarded by charitable foundations. A list of the Center's funders may be found on its official Web site. Donations are tax-deductible. The Center ceased accepting contributions from corporations and labor unions in 1996. In its first year, the Center's budget was reported to be $200,000.

Budget







2002

2003

2004

2005

2006
Program Services $3,211,035 $3,431,602 $3,436,047 $3,156,524 $3,310,376
Management $158,635 $647,919 $781,966 $814,311 $856,808
Fundraising $312,476 $283,785 $327,890 $429,868 $569,753
Expenses $3,682,146 $4,363,306 $4,545,903 $4,400,703 $4,736,637
Revenue $2,934,193 $4,314,611 $6,494,199 $3,138,139 $3,207,695
Excess or Deficit ($747,953)

($48,695) $1,948,296 ($1,262,564) ($1,528,942)


Praise

"The Center for Public Integrity has rescued investigative journalism from the margins and showed us how important this kind of reporting is to the health of democracy. Bill Moyers

An indispensable truth-teller in a treacherous time. Arthur Schlesinger Jr.

What has long impressed me about the Center in particular is its combination of realistic militance and fine scholarship. James MacGregor Burns

In a political culture without apparent guiding principles, in a time when those who own our great media conglomerates stress markets above journalism, the Center for Public Integrity has offered an increasingly potent antidote. Hodding Carter III

Ethics must be reintroduced to public service to restore people’s faith in government. Without such faith, democracy cannot flourish. [The Center's] ambitious agenda is filling a desperate need. Walter Cronkite

In Washington, D.C., a city that is home to a surplus of committees and organizations with names that suggest they are pursuing worthy causes on behalf of all Americans — when in fact they are not — there is one group that lives up to its name: The Center for Public Integrity. ... The Center has no axe to grind, except to look out for the best interests of all citizens. In so doing, it has turned out one thought-provoking, fact-filled, nonpartisan study after another on the major issues of the day — all required reading for those who are committed to good and honest government. Donald Barlett and James Steele

No one should be in doubt as to the value of the work of the Center for Public Integrity or the suffering that it causes. For much modern political and economic life and also, alas, for much media expression, nothing is so inconvenient, so unwelcome and often so powerful as the cold truth. This, the CPI for our pleasure and for our benefit provides. John Kenneth Galbraith

Criticism

Sources of Funding

Criticism of the Center frequently addresses the source of its financial support. Despite its claims to be a nonpartisan news organization and profession of the Society of Professional Journalists code of ethics, the Center has been accused of bias towards right-wing political causes because it has accepted money from organizations and individuals that favor conservative policies and/or actively oppose left-wing political causes.

In a 2007 essay, the Center's founder Charles Lewis offered this about the Center's fundraising habits:

Funding from George Soros

The Center has been criticized for accepting large funds from George Soros, a politically active billionaire and critic of the Bush administration. . The Web site of one of Soros' organizations, the Open Society Institute, discloses four grants to the Center, all made before his entry into the 2004 presidential contest. They are:
  • A $72,400 one-year grant in 2000 supporting "an investigative journalism series on prosecutorial misconduct."
  • A $75,000 one-year grant in 2001 supporting "an examination of wrongful convictions resulting from prosecutorial misconduct."
  • A $100,000 one-year grant in 2002 "to investigate the political spending of the telecommunications industry on the federal, state and local levels."
  • A $1 million three-year grant in 2002 "to support the Global Access Project."
The first two grants funded what eventually became the "Harmful Error" report, which was headed by Steve Weinberg. Weinberg is a professional journalist and former director of Investigative Reporters and Editors.

The telecommunications grant supported the launch of the Center's ongoing "Well Connected" project. According to the Center's site, other funding for that endeavor has been provided by The Ford Foundation. The project has won an Online News Association award for enterprise reporting and the Sigma Delta Chi Award for Public Service in Online Journalism.

According to its Web site, the Global Access project—now known as Global Integrity—seeks to "collect and disseminate trustworthy, credible, comprehensive and timely data and information on governance and corruption trends around the world." It publishes the Global Integrity Index, "an annual ranking of 50-100 diverse countries in more than 290 indicators of openness, governance, and anti-corruption mechanisms."

Despite their previous connections, the Center documented Soros' political donations during the 2004 political elections as a part of its "Silent Partners" project, which won an Online Journalism Association award for its reporting on the "527" groups that bypassed campaign finance disclosure regulations to funnel millions of dollars to both candidates.

Funding from Bill Moyers and the Schumann Foundation

A 1999 report in the Seattle Times raised questions about the ethical behavior of PBS journalist Bill Moyers by documenting examples of his work that featured sources whose organizations have been funded by the Schumann Foundation, a philanthropic group he heads. Among the recipients of Schumann grants featured in Moyers' journalism has been the Center's founder Charles Lewis.

In 2004, Moyers and the Center were further criticized by Cliff Kinkaid of Accuracy in Media, who emphasized that Moyers has also served on the board of the Open Society Institute, a foundation started by a George Soros that has itself also funded projects at the Center.

Funding from Supporters of Legal Restrictions on Campaign Finance

Writing in The Wall Street Journal in March 2005, commentator John Fund accused the Center of being a member of what he termed the "campaign finance lobby." Citing a speech by Sean Treglia, former program manager at Pew Charitable Trusts, Fund argued that a "stealth campaign" by "eight liberal foundations" fomented a false sense of public demand for new restrictions on the financing of public campaigns. In the course of his essay, Fund singled out the Center as a front group pushing Pew's agenda.

The Center's Bill Allison responded to criticisms arising from Tregalia's speech by emphasizing that Pew's contributions to the Center's work on campaign finance have always been forthrightly disclosed. In an published argument with blogger Ryan Sager, Allison also disputed the notion that the Center's work amounted to advocacy:
In another essay on the Center's Web site, Allison challenged the Center's critics, and Fund specifically.


Foundations Providing Support

  • Annenberg Foundation
  • Arca Foundation
  • Around Foundation
  • Arthur D. Lipson
  • Brodie Price Fund
  • Carnegie Corporation of New York
  • Charles S. Chapin Charitable Trust
  • Cissy Patterson Trust
  • Columbia Foundation – Christine H. Russell Fund
  • Community Trust
  • Daniel Solomon Tzedakah Fund of the Shefa Fund
  • Donna Mae Litowitz
  • Dudley Foundation
  • Educational Foundation of America
  • Ethics and Excellence in Journalism Foundation
  • Eugene Vasilew
  • Fanny and Leo Koerner Charitable Trust
  • Ford Foundation
  • Freedom Forum
  • Fund for Constitutional Government
  • Gaia Fund
  • Giles W. and Elise G. Mead Foundation
  • Goldman Environmental Foundation
  • Gunzenhauser-Chapin Fund
  • Haas Charitable Trusts
  • Hafif Family Foundation
  • JEHT Foundation
  • Joan Shorenstein Center on the Press, Politics and Public Policy at Harvard University
  • John & Florence Newman Foundation
  • John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation
  • John S. and James L. Knight Foundation
  • Joyce Foundation
  • Katz Family Foundation
  • Kismet Foundation
  • Lear Family Foundation
  • Lear Fund of the Proteus Fund
  • Leavens Foundation
  • Litowitz Foundation
  • Los Angeles Times Foundation
  • Low Wood Fund
  • Lucy Gonda Foundation
  • Lynn R. & Karl E. Prickett Fund
  • Mark S. Thompson
  • McCormick Tribune Foundation
  • Morton K. and Jane Blaustein Foundation
  • Nathan Cummings Foundation
  • New York Community Trust
  • Omidyar Network Fund
  • Open Society Foundation
  • Park Foundation, Inc.
  • Pew Charitable Trusts
  • Popplestone Foundation
  • Price Family Charitable Fund
  • Princeton Class of 1969
  • Richard and Rhoda Goldman Fund
  • Rockefeller Brothers Fund
  • Ruben and Elisabeth Rausing Trust
  • Sandler Family Supporting Foundation
  • Scherman Foundation, Inc.
  • Schuckman Peace Foundation
  • Schumann Center for Media and Democracy
  • Stewert R. Mott Charitable Trust
  • Streisand Foundation
  • Susan Loewenberg
  • Thomas Rosbrow
  • Town Creek Foundation, Inc.
  • V. Kann Rasmussen Foundation
  • Victor Elmaleh Foundation
  • Wallace Global Fund
  • Whitehead Foundation
  • William and Flora Hewlett Foundation
  • Working Assets


Management and Staff

Board of Directors Advisory Board Management
Bill Buzenberg

Hodding Carter III

Alan J. Dworsky

Charles Eisendrath

Bruce A. Finzen

Bill Kovach

Susan Loewenberg

Bevis Longsteth

Paula Madison

John E. Newman, Jr.

Michele Norris

Geneva Overholser

Allen Pusey

Sree Sreenivasan

Marianne Szegedy-Maszak(Chair)
James MacGregor Burns

Joel Chaseman

Edith Everett

Gustavo Godoy

Josie Goytisolo

Herbert Hafif

Rev. Theodore Hesburgh

Kathleen Hall Jamieson

Sonia R. Jarvis

Charles Ogletree

Charles Piller

Ben Sherwood

Harold M. Williams

William Julius Wilson
Bill Buzenberg

Executive Director

Ellen McPeake

Chief Operating Officer

David E. Kaplan

Editorial Director and ICIJ Director

Bridget Gallagher

Director of Development

Gordon Witkin

Managing Editor


Reports and Filings

Annual Reports

  • 2005 (PDF File: 738 KB)
  • 2004 (PDF File: 1587 KB)
  • 2003 (PDF File: 1264 KB)
  • 2002 (PDF File: 508 KB)
  • 2001 (PDF File: 584 KB)
  • 2000 (PDF File: 1503 KB)

Annual Returns ( IRS Form 990)

  • 2006 (PDF File: 3.0 MB)
  • 2005 (PDF File: 2.2 MB)
  • 2004 (PDF File: 1.9 MB)
  • 2003 (PDF File: 3.1 MB)
  • 2002 (PDF File: 3.3 MB)


Published Books

Further reading



References



External links




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