One Trump Tax Cut Was Meant to Help the Poor. A Billionaire Ended Up Winning Big.

by Jeff Ernsthausen and Justin Elliott Under a six-lane span of freeway leading into downtown Baltimore sit what may be the most valuable parking spaces in America. Lying near a development project controlled by Under Armour’s billionaire CEO Kevin Plank, one of Maryland’s richest men, and Goldman Sachs, the little sliver of land will allow Plank and the other investors to claim what could amount to millions in tax breaks for the project, known as Port Covington. They have President Donald Trump’s 2017 tax overhaul law to thank. The new law has a provision meant to spur investment into underdeveloped areas, called “opportunity zones.” The idea is to grant lucrative tax breaks to encourage new investment in poor areas around the country, carefully selected by each state’s governor. But Port Covington, an ambitious development geared to millennials to feature offices, … Continue reading

ProPublica Wins Two Edward R. Murrow Awards

by ProPublica The Radio Television Digital News Association has named ProPublica the winner of two Edward R. Murrow Awards. The national competition, among the most prestigious in journalism, recognizes outstanding achievement in broadcast and digital news. ProPublica’s “Zero Tolerance” audio won in the Excellence in Sound category for Small Digital News Organizations. Published one year ago today, the secret recording from inside an immigrant detention center captured the unmistakable sounds of children sobbing and begging for their parents after being separated from their families at the Mexican border. The tape immediately broke through the partisan din and led to a massive public outcry. Within 48 hours, the president signed an executive order to reverse his policy of separating families and a federal judge in California ordered that parents and children be reunited within 30 days. “Unprotected,” ProPublica’s first full-length feature … Continue reading

More Instances of Fraud and Mismanagement Over New Jersey Tax Incentives Surface in New Report

by Jeff Pillets and Nancy Solomon, WNYC A task force investigating New Jersey’s controversial tax break program released a report Monday concluding that fraud and mismanagement tainted the $11 billion effort to bring new jobs and businesses to the state. The report included new evidence of the influence of Democratic Party boss George E. Norcross III in steering tax breaks to favored businesses and nonprofits located along the Camden waterfront. The task force was formed by Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy in January to investigate the program. It said that a Camden hospital system for which Norcross served as board chairman sought to mislead the state in its application for $39.9 million in tax breaks. Get Our Top Investigations Subscribe to the Big Story newsletter. Don’t miss out on ProPublica’s next investigation. Sign up and get the Big Story email whenever … Continue reading

How Teach for America Evolved Into an Arm of the Charter School Movement

by Annie Waldman When the Walton Family Foundation announced in 2013 that it was donating $20 million to Teach For America to recruit and train nearly 4,000 teachers for low-income schools, its press release did not reveal the unusual terms for the grant. Documents obtained by ProPublica show that the foundation, a staunch supporter of school choice and Teach For America’s largest private funder, was paying $4,000 for every teacher placed in a traditional public school — and $6,000 for every one placed in a charter school. The two-year grant was directed at nine cities where charter schools were sprouting up, including New Orleans; Memphis, Tennessee; and Los Angeles. The gift’s purpose was far removed from Teach For America’s original mission of alleviating teacher shortages in traditional public schools. It was intended to “generate a longer-term leadership pipeline that advances … Continue reading