Nerve Wins First-Place Reporting Award

March 24, 2014

Investigative Reports

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The Nerve received a first-place South Carolina Press Association award at the organization’s annual awards meeting Saturday in Columbia.

The Nerve took top honors in the “Best News Reporting” category in the associate-member division for an April 16 story titled, “S.C. Politicians Don’t Reveal Who Pays Them,” which was the launch piece in an ongoing investigative series into conflict-of-interest issues involving state politicians.

Among other things, the story revealed that a concrete company that longtime Senate Finance Committee Chairman Hugh Leatherman once led and remained a part owner of had been paid more than $30 million over a 20-year period, mainly through the S.C. Department of Transportation. For years, Leatherman had quit disclosing his ties to the company on his required state income-disclosure forms, but resumed doing so last year – several weeks after The Nerve submitted a request under the state Freedom of Information Act for the state payments.

The story also examined broader issues involving the lack of disclosure by lawmakers of their private sources of income, revealing, for example, that legislators who recuse themselves from voting on sections of the state budget aren’t required to provide specifics on their potential conflicts of interest, leaving the public in the dark.

In awarding first place to The Nerve for its reporting of the story, contest judges wrote: “Nice job of mining and putting into context a variety of data. Good use of multiple sources, including quotes from those who probably would rather have avoided the story.”

Since its launch in January 2010, The Nerve has won eight South Carolina Press Association awards, including five first-place honors. The Nerve is a product of the South Carolina Policy Council, which is an associate member of the Press Association.