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A joint investigation of lawmakers’ finances by the Center for Public Integrity and The Post and Courier of Charleston, S.C. has won the South Carolina Press Association prize for investigative reporting.

South Carolina Sen. Hugh Leatherman spent more than $109,000 between August 2009 and August 2015 on presents, describing them with labels such as “constituent gifts,” “Christmas ornaments” and “constituent flowers.” Here, the Republican lawmaker addresses senators after he was sworn in as president pro tempore in the South Carolina Senate in January. Grace Beahm/Post and Courier

The award recognizes The Capitol Gains project, which detailed how state elected officials and candidates have been able to profit from public office and use nearly $100 million since 2009 in campaign cash, gifts and government reimbursements to hire their own companies, buy club memberships and even purchase a used BMW.

The Center for Public Integrity and The Post and Courier analyzed more than 100,000 expenses, gifts, travel items and reimbursements, creating a searchable database of more than 700 candidates for state office to show how they spent the money.

Other stories in the series showed that South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley received more than $300,000 worth of free football tickets during her first four years as governor and revealed how part-time state lawmakers receive far more than in compensation than their $10,400 in base pay.

The project was additionally named as a finalist for the association’s Judson Chapman Award, which honors work that addresses community concerns. The Capitol Gains series was also a finalist for the Scripps Howard Award for Community Journalism.

Congratulations to all of the winners.


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