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Politics of Oil
07.16.04
Politics and Economy:
Charles Lewis
More on This Story:
Biography

Fueling politics and policy. David Brancaccio sits down with Center for Public Integrity's Charles Lewis to gauge what Big Oil is getting for pumping cash into the political parties.



Chuck Lewis
Charles Lewis is the founder and executive director of the Center for Public Integrity, a nonprofit, nonpartisan watchdog organization in Washington that does investigative reporting and research on public policy issues. Since its inception in late 1989, the Center has grown to a full-time staff of 40, and issued more than 200 investigative reports, including 12 books. Under Lewis' direction, Center reports have been honored by Investigative Reporters and Editors (IRE), the Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ), and others 26 times. Center findings or perspective have appeared in roughly 8,000 news media stories since 1990.

Lewis has written or co-written several of the Center's books and studies that systematically track political influence, including THE BUYING OF THE PRESIDENT 2004 (Perennial 2004), THE CHEATING OF AMERICA (Morrow 2001), THE BUYING OF THE PRESIDENT 2000 (Avon 2000), THE BUYING OF THE CONGRESS (Avon 1998) and THE BUYING OF THE PRESIDENT (Avon 1996). In 1998, he was awarded a MacArthur Fellowship by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation.

The VILLAGE VOICE called Lewis "the Paul Revere of our time" in early 2003 after he obtained a copy of the Justice Department's draft legislation "sequel" to the U.S.A. Patriot Act, and posted it on the Center's Web site.

Lewis has been interviewed hundreds of times about corruption-related issues by the national and international news media. Since 1992, he has spoken on corruption or journalism in Belarus, Belgium, China, Denmark, England, France, Hungary, Ireland, Russia, Sweden and South Africa. In early 1997, he traveled to the troubled Ferghana Valley region of Uzbekistan and Kyrgystan in Central Asia as part of a Council on Foreign Relations conflict-prevention fact-finding mission.

Lewis has initiated several new, innovative Center projects. In late 1997, he began the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ), an unprecedented network of the world's premier investigative reporters, currently 92 people in 48 countries. ICIJ globally extends the Center's style of enterprise journalism by focusing on issues that transcend nation-state borders.

In 1998, Lewis and the Center undertook a nationwide investigation of corruption in America's state legislatures, in which more than 7,000 state lawmakers were individually contacted by phone or mail, and their annual financial disclosure forms were posted on the Internet. The Center's investigative reports and electronic dissemination of public documents in the states has received two national journalism awards.

In 2001, he created Global Access, a groundbreaking Center project to monitor and report on corruption, government accountability and openness in every country in the world. Utilizing respected social scientists and investigative reporters in the field simultaneously this comprehensive, unique approach combines the Internet and other new technologies with quantitative methodology and authoritative, accessible narrative.

For eleven years, from 1977 through 1988, Lewis did investigative reporting at ABC News, and at CBS News as a producer for senior correspondent Mike Wallace at 60 MINUTES. His stories twice received Emmy nominations in the "Outstanding Investigative Reporting" category by the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences.

Lewis has written for THE NEW YORK TIMES, THE WASHINGTON POST, THE LOS ANGELES TIMES, CHRISTIAN SCIENCE MONITOR, COLUMBIA JOURNALISM REVIEW, THE NATION and many other publications. He serves on the board of the Fund for Investigative Journalism and is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists, Investigative Reporters and Editors and the Committee to Protect Journalists. He began his first job in journalism at the age of seventeen, working nights in the sports department of the Wilmington (Delaware) NEWS-JOURNAL.

A native of Newark, Delaware, Lewis holds a master's degree from Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies in Washington and a B.A. in political science with honors and distinction from the University of Delaware.


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