Inside Public Integrity

Published — October 29, 2011 Updated — May 19, 2014 at 12:19 pm ET

The weekly watchdog: Oct. 24 – Oct. 28

From left: Mar Cabra/ICIJ, AP

This week’s top investigations from iWatch News


Offshore tax holiday for U.S. corporations?

Goaded by battalions of corporate lobbyists, members of Congress are working to give a select group of U.S. multinational firms like Apple, Oracle and Pfizer a lavish tax break on a trillion dollars stashed offshore. The avowed goal is to generate jobs and investment, but the offshore tax holiday was tried before, in 2004, and the lion’s share of the benefits went not to unemployed workers and their families, but to corporate shareholders and executives. The proposed tax holiday could cost the Treasury from $40 billion to $80 billion over the next decade, and the high cost of the measure is one reason that its prospects for passage are mixed.

IMPACT: Credit union drops payday loans

A Utah-based lender featured prominently in an iWatch News investigation of payday lending at credit unions has stopped selling the controversial loans and is instead offering a more consumer-friendly product. Mountain America Credit Union had offered its 320,000 member-owners a “MyInstaCash” loan that topped out at an 876 percent annual interest rate for a $100, five-day loan. These short-term, unsecured loans are usually due when the borrower receives his or her next paycheck. Consumer groups say lenders charge exorbitant interest and often trap borrowers in a cycle of debt that they can’t escape.

Spanish fishing industry decries Center report

Well we certainly got their attention. The latest investigation by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists is part of an “international campaign against Spain and its fishing industry,” representatives of the Spanish fishing industry announced at a press conference held this week in front of the Spanish Fishing Secretariat in Madrid. ICIJ’s investigation exposed how the Spanish fishing industry has received more than $8 billion (€5.8 billion) in subsidies since 2000 to expand its capacity and global reach. The analysis showed that nearly one-in-three fish caught on a Spanish hook or raised in a Spanish farm is paid for with public money. That public fortune supports a fleet with an extensive record of flouting regulations and breaking the law. It also spurs the depletion of threatened fish stocks. We stand firmly behind the report, its methods and findings. And no, we don’t hate Spain.

Investigative Journalism in the Digital Age

For those in the New York City area, the Center will hold an exciting event at the Paley Center for Media on November 10, 2011 at 8:30am. The program takes you inside a joint air pollution investigation with NPR, discusses the future on nonprofit journalism and offers tips on how to dig for public information online. It’s free, and we’d love to have you there. You can find more information here. To RSVP, please email Dottie Betts. The Paley Center will also live-stream the program online.

Until next week,

Bill Buzenberg
Executive Director

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