The Maine Center for Public Interest Reporting won a 2015 “Publick Occurrences Award” – yes, that’s how it’s spelled – from the New England Newspaper & Press Association for Naomi Schalit’s story, “LD 1750: A study in how special interests get their way in the Maine Legislature.”
Reporter Schalit and her editor, John Christie, accepted the award at a ceremony Thursday in Massachusetts.
Last year, the first year the Center was eligible to enter the competition for the awards, Christie and Schalit won two Publick Occurrences Awards. This year, judges wrote that “The story relied on Maine’s freedom of information law to obtain hundreds of emails, text messages and phone calls among the president of the Maine Senate and lobbyists, lawyers and legislative staff. The result was a precise and well-documented dissection of how a particular wind energy law came to be drafted and amended by lobbyists, with the ‘public shut out of the democratic process.’ The system worked to the benefit of the wind energy lobby and a State Senate President who had a leadership political action committee that haad received $9,100 from the wind industry, money the senate president used to help elect fellow Democrats to support him in his presidency – and provide critical support for the wind energy bill he introduced. A clearly written narrative and exquisite documentation with dozens of links to actual emails between the Senate President and others that chronicled how the bill came to be.”