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Charles Lewis to Step Down as Executive Director

Charles Lewis to Step Down as Executive Director of the Center for Public Integrity - Will Continue Advisory Role

WASHINGTON, April 27, 2004 — Charles Lewis, founder of the Center for Public Integrity, will step down in January 2005 as executive director of the nonprofit, nonpartisan research organization based in Washington, D.C. He will continue to serve on the Center's Board of Directors and also play a leadership role on endowment and other long-term, strategic, institutional development issues.

The Board of Directors has begun a national search for a new executive director, led by its executive committee: chairman and Center co-founder Charles Piller, treasurer Allen Pusey and secretary Marianne Szegedy-Maszak.

"Chuck Lewis's remarkable talent — his creative vision, journalistic insights on a broad range of topics, and dogged determination to expose malfeasance and corruption in its many forms — will be sorely missed," said Piller. "We remain deeply grateful for Chuck's amazing 15-year run — building the Center from the ground up into an acclaimed, world-wide, investigative-reporting team that has won two dozen national awards, including the George Polk Award this year. Fortunately, Chuck will remain on our Board and continue his unique contributions to the organization for years to come."

Piller added: "Our search for a new executive director is well underway. At this time of unprecedented accomplishments and remarkably stable funding for our work, we expect a smooth transition to a new leader next year. And we look forward to a new era of ground-breaking investigations."

Lewis, 50, began the Center for Public Integrity after leaving a successful career in network television news, as a producer assigned to senior correspondent Mike Wallace at the CBS News program 60 Minutes. Working from his home as the Center's sole employee on October 1, 1989, over the past 15 years he has developed the organization into one of the most respected investigative reporting organizations in the world. Today, the Center has 40 full-time employees and an annual budget of over $4 million. Since its inception, the organization has published more than 250 investigative reports and 12 books.

Lewis has conducted more than 30 news conferences at the National Press Club and has authored or co-authored several Center reports, including five books: The Buying of the President (Avon: 1996), The Buying of the Congress (Avon: 1998), The Buying of the President 2000 (Avon: 2000), The Cheating of America (Morrow: 2000) and The Buying of the President 2004 (Harper Perennial: 2004). In February, The Buying of the President 2004 reached The New York Times bestseller list for nonfiction paperback books, and was on the short or extended (top 30) list for 10 weeks.

In 1998, he was awarded a prestigious MacArthur Fellowship by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. Last year, after Lewis obtained and the Center published secret draft legislation extending and broadening the controversial USA Patriot Act, known as "Patriot II," The Village Voice called Lewis "the Paul Revere of our time." During his tenure as executive director, Center reports have been honored 26 times by the Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ), Investigative Reporters and Editors (IRE) and other national journalism organizations. Most recently, the Center report Windfalls of War, about U.S. government contracts in Iraq and Afghanistan, received the George Polk Award for online investigative journalism.

The Center for Public Integrity under Lewis is perhaps best known for unprecedented, massive investigative reporting projects about political influence and corruption in Washington and in the 50 states, combining computer database reporting and exhaustive review of public documents with traditional interviewing and writing. For example, The Buying of the President 2004 was produced by 53 researchers, writers and editors, and involved millions of federal and state records, 200 Freedom of Information Act requests and more than 600 interviews.

Beyond the U.S., Lewis initiated two pioneering international Center ventures. In 1997, he created the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ), a working network of the world's premier investigative reporters, currently 92 people in 47 countries, extending the Center's style of enterprise journalism by focusing on public interest issues that transcend nation-state borders. In 2001, Lewis initiated Global Access, a new way of monitoring and reporting on corruption, government accountability and openness in countries throughout the world. The Center will release on Thursday, April 29, a pioneering 750,000-word online Global Integrity Report, based on the research, writing, editing and analysis of nearly 200 people on the ground in 25 countries, introducing a unique Public Integrity Index comparative ranking system.

"I will always stay involved with the Center for Public Integrity, even though this is the right time for me to step down as its executive director," Lewis said. "It is part of my heart and soul and it always will be. This tenacious, dedicated staff and Board are wonderful, simply the best, and I am immensely proud of what we have all accomplished together – possibly a new genre of consistently high quality, fearless public service journalism at the state, national and international levels.

"But after 15 very intense years of 80-hour weeks on the front lines, I personally need to step back a bit, do some long-anticipated reading, thinking, and writing, and of course spend more time with my dear family. Beyond doing everything I can to assist my successor in this important transition, I will continue to help secure the Center's future to ensure the continuation of its unique contributions to public service investigative reporting."

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