Better Government Association Wins Press Awards

BGA stories on Congressman Bobby Rush, ex-U.S. Rep. Jerry Costello and UNO are singled out for distinction by the Chicago Journalists Association.

CHICAGO—The Better Government Association – with media partners Chicago magazine and the Chicago Sun-Times – was honored over the weekend by the Chicago Journalists Association for three high-caliber investigative news pieces.

"A Rush Of Financial Questions," a package of stories about the questionable personal and professional finances of U.S. Rep. Bobby Rush, won the CJA's Sarah Brown Boyden award in the investigations category. The articles appeared last December in the Chicago Sun-Times and were written and reported by the BGA's Chuck Neubauer and Sandy Bergo.

Another project by Neubauer and Bergo, about retired U.S. Rep. Jerry Costello, entitled "Cashing In On Congressional Connections," won in the politics category. The story, appearing in the Sun-Times in May, focused on Costello's curious lobbying efforts after retiring from Congress.

Winning in the CJA's education category was a BGA/Chicago magazine piece entitled "The Rise and Fall of Juan Rangel" – about UNO, its embattled leader and the nonprofit's clout-heavy charter school network. The article, which ran in January, was written by the BGA's Andrew Schroedter and Patrick Rehkamp, and Chicago magazine's Cassie Walker Burke.

The CJA judges highlighted "how UNO received millions of dollars" in taxpayer money "with little oversight."

For the Costello story, the CJA judges said, "Deft investigation and writing show Costello may be toeing the legal line, but frequently rubbing out the ethical line."

The CJA's judges said the Rush series "adheres to the notion that solid investigative reporting relies on the depth of analysis, as well as the reporter's skill in utilizing a multitude of sources and data." The judges also cited the impact of the series; prompted by the BGA/Sun-Times stories, congressional investigators launched an ethics probe.

"We're grateful to the Chicago Journalists Association for recognizing our work," said BGA President and CEO Andy Shaw. "Our stories are intended to shine a light on government and hold public officials accountable. And these stories are great examples of that."

The Better Government Association is a Chicago-based nonprofit, nonpartisan watchdog group that works for integrity, transparency and accountability in government by exposing corruption and inefficiency; identifying and advocating effective public policy; and engaging and mobilizing the public to achieve authentic and responsible reform.