Winner – Politico: Investigation of Ryan Zinke

  • Contributors – Ben Lefebvre, Nick Juliano
  • Judges’ Comments – Politico’s Ben Lefebvre and Nick Juliano used business records, lobbying disclosure forms, IRS documents, business registrations, FEC filings and source interviews to describe a Montana real estate deal that pointed to a conflict of interest by then Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke. The cleanly written story in June 2018 was followed by an inspector general investigation and a referral to the Justice Department for a possible criminal inquiry. While Zinke faced other ethics challenges, it is clear that the Montana real estate deal backed by the chairman of Halliburton, so clearly described by Politico, helped uncork follow-up stories and played a central role in his resignation in December 2018.

Honorable Mention – The Plain Dealer: Do wage theft laws in Ohio harm or help workers?

  • Contributor – Olivera Perkins
  • Judges’ Comments – In crisp, easy-to-understand writing, Olivera Perkins’ deep dive into wage theft in Ohio guides readers through a complex process typically obscured with arcane legal and financial terms and process. She backs up compelling anecdotes with statistic after statistic — some illustrated in clear graphics — that make the story an exemplary piece of government watchdog journalism.