In statements on Friday, California Attorney General Xavier Becerra refused to rule out legal action against journalists at the Investigative Reporting Program and Investigative Studios. Through public records requests, the reporters obtained documents listing state police officers who have been convicted of crimes. Three weeks after receiving the lists, Becerra’s office sent a letter demanding that the reporters destroy the lists and threatening legal action if any of the contents are published.
IRP Director John Temple’s CALmatters piece challenges California Attorney General Xavier Becerra’s efforts to suppress a statewide report on police criminal convictions. The IRP received this report in response to a Public Records Act request it filed.
IRP Director John Temple writes for The Atlantic about the current environment of the newspaper industry. As the former editor, president and publisher of the Rocky Mountain News, which was shut down in 2009, he’s seen first-hand the damage losing a newspaper can do both to the journalists and the community. Now he sees other newspapers in trouble and believes journalists need to innovate to make local news an ongoing resource.
The IRP’s Jason Paladino and Investigative Studio’s Robert Lewis report for The Mercury News and KQED News that California Attorney General Xavier Becerra has warned the reporters that a list of cop criminal convictions they obtained through a Public Records Act request must be destroyed. The IRP and Studios are contesting the demands, as the obtained documents provide a rare glimpse at the volume of officer misconduct at a time of heightened interest in police accountability.
The Bell, published by IRP fellow Elizaveta Osetinskaya, spoke with escort Nastya Rybka and her sex coach Alex Leslie after their return from Thailand and their release in Russia. Rybka has previously claimed she holds evidence of Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election campaign, allegedly obtained through her acquaintance with Oleg Deripaska, a Russian billionaire.
A story in The Bell, published by IRP fellow Elizaveta Osetinskaya, details how Russian businessman Yevgeny Prigozhin — whose ties with the Russian president have earned him the nickname “Putin’s Chef” — played a leading role in the rise of the private military company (PMC) Wagner. The report brings together the two decades-long history of Prigozhin’s involvement.
A judge has recommended charges against Hamid Hayat, the infamous figure in the “sleeper cell” case, be dropped on grounds that Hayat’s lawyer failed to represent him fairly. The IRP began reporting on Hayat in 2006 for PBS Frontline. Former IRP reporter Abbie VanSickle continued coverage in her 2016 series with the IRP for The Intercept.
In partnership with KQED, journalist Robert Lewis, who works with the IRP as part of its California Corruption Project, reports on corruption among Bakersfield-area law enforcement. Narcotics squad officers have pleaded guilty to stealing about 30 pounds of marijuana. A grand jury is continuing to investigate and the corruption scandal is still growing.
Former IRP student Brian Krans’s report on local political corruption in Fresno County ran on KQED’s The California Report. He explored how a district attorney charged two important local officials with bribery. However, the breadth of this issue is much wider than just a few indictments. Click the “more” link below to hear the story in full:
The IRP’s Jason Paladino writes for The Atlantic about the secret removal of safety data on Navy accidents. Although there have been previous reports of high-ranking officials hindering the disclosure of Navy documents, a representative from the agency insists that the removal decision was part of a website redesign.