<i>Times</i> charity investigation wins top honors in national Barlett & Steele awards

Kris Hundley is a staff writer for the Tampa Bay Times. &#65279;
Kris Hundley is a staff writer for the Tampa Bay Times. 
Published Oct. 2, 2013

A Tampa Bay Times investigation of America's worst charities has earned top honors in the Barlett & Steele Awards for Investigative Business Journalism.

Times staff writer Kris Hundley, 63, and Kendall Taggart, 27, of the Center for Investigative Reporting won the gold award and $5,000 for the joint project.

"Reporters identified charities that steered as much as 95 percent of donations to boiler-room operations and direct-mail companies," the award announcement noted, "leaving only a token amount to help those in need."

The three-judge panel praised the Times/CIR project for creating an interactive online database allowing readers to examine the 50 worst charities and state actions against thousands of others with troubled records.

Second-place honors went to the New York Times for an investigation into the tax breaks that local governments offer to recruit businesses. The Wall Street Journal earned a third-place award for articles revealing how corporate executives benefit from trading their company's stocks.

Since the Times/CIR investigation published in June, Florida regulators have announced plans to strengthen the regulation of charities. A recent state raid of the Police Protective Fund, listed as one of the worst charities, led to the arrest of four managers overseeing the charity's phone rooms who were accused of hiring felons to solicit funds.

Hundley is a member of the Times investigative team headed by editor Chris Davis. Other major contributors included Times computer-assisted reporting specialist Connie Humburg and Web developer Bill Higgins.

The Barlett & Steele awards, named for two prominent investigative journalists, are overseen by the Donald W. Reynolds National Center for Business Journalism at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University.