BGA Wins Associated Press Media Award

The Better Government Association and the Chicago Sun-Times won an Associated Press award for enterprise reporting for an investigative story on a clout-heavy group of landlords making big money building and leasing the FBI’s new Chicago offices.

The Better Government Association and the Chicago Sun-Times won an Associated Press award for enterprise reporting for an investigative story on a clout-heavy group of landlords – including future U.S. Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker – making big money building and leasing the FBI’s new Chicago offices.

The story, written by the BGA’s Chuck Neubauer and Sandy Bergo, was published in the Sun-Times in September 2014.

The story found that the FBI paid about $280 million in rent and operating expenses over 14 years for its 10-story West Side office – more than double what it cost to build the complex.

The BGA also found that politically connected developers made big money on the deal – as much as $45 million in profits, according to records and interviews. Among those to benefit were Pritzker – a top campaign fundraiser for President Barack Obama, who later appointed her Commerce secretary – and developer Jack Higgins, a friend and political backer of former Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley.

The Illinois AP awards recognize outstanding journalism in 2014.