A key to the Center’s business model is partnering with multiple media outlets to expand the impact of our work. I’m particularly pleased about an upcoming segment with PBS FRONTLINE called Dollars and Dentists. This major joint investigation by our two organizations is, I hope, the harbinger of many more to come. The Washington Post will also be publishing print versions of our investigation.
FRONTLINE producer Jill Rosenbaum has been working in the Center’s newsroom for more than a year, attending editorial meetings and keeping a lookout for an important investigation to translate to television. She started tracking troubling financial charges to young Medicaid dental patients. Center reporter David Heath joined in the investigation and nine months later a major project, including both the FRONTLINE documentary and two in-depth print pieces, will premiere next week.
Please tune in to PBS FRONTLINE on Tuesday night, June 26, and read about our investigation at www.iwatchnews.org. This level of high-quality partnering is very much the future of investigative journalism and I’m proud of the Center for Public Integrity’s leadership role in the investigative news sector.
Until next week,
Bill Buzenberg Executive Director
U.S. Chamber, GOP block election transparency bill In 2010, Rep. Chris Van Hollen, D-Md., introduced legislation that included a provision to require nonprofits that buy political ads to disclose their donors. The bill — fought tooth and nail by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce — failed. A stripped-down version introduced this year has been blocked by Republicans in both the House and Senate. The Chamber claims disclosure would “silence free speech.” Critics say its opposition is more about shielding the business association’s corporate donors from a potential backlash by shareholders and consumers who object to its political activities. The result: massive political spending paid for by hidden sources of money.
Government conveniently reclassifies limousines Last year, based on information in the annual Fleet Report issued by the General Services Administration, the Center reported that the number of limousines owned by government agencies rose 73 percent from 2008 to 2010, to a total of 412. The increase was not something the Obama administration was anxious to take credit for. It’s now come to light that six weeks after the story ran, the GSA sent a memo to federal agencies with new guidance on exactly what constitutes a limousine. The definitions changed and an SUV is no longer a limo, consequently there are fewer to report.
Campaign finance free-for-all in South Carolina Longtime Charleston Mayor Joe Riley nearly didn’t win reelection last year. A shadowy group popped up out of nowhere and spent an untold amount of secret money to pummel his record in support of one of his rivals. None of the mayor’s opponents declared allegiance to the attack machine. That’s because new rules in South Carolina meant the outfit didn’t have to file paperwork with the state or disclose what it was doing, how much it was spending and who was bankrolling it.
Medicaid dentists game the system An investigation by the Center for Public Integrity and FRONTLINE reveals the shocking consequences of a broken safety net. Corporate dental chains are filling the gaps in care. But in some cases they are allegedly overcharging patients or giving them unnecessary treatments. The segment airs June 26 on PBS.
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