This Week's Top MuckReads: Corporations Crafting Laws, Cheating Cops and Student Visa Mills 

ProPublica's ongoing collection of the best watchdog journalism.

Here are this week's top 10 must-read stories from #MuckReads [1], ProPublica's ongoing collection of the best watchdog journalism. Anyone can contribute by tweeting a link to a story and just including the hashtag #MuckReads or by sending an email to [2]. The best submissions are selected by ProPublica's editors and reporters and then featured on our site [3] and @ProPublica [4]

Koch Joins Exxon to Craft State Laws From D.C. in ALEC's Industry Agenda [5], Bloomberg NewsHow a powerful nonprofit named ALEC gives corporations the opportunity to shape state laws. (Here's a background piece we've done on ALEC [6].)Contributed by @kleinmatic [7]


Little-Known Firms Tracking Data Used in Credit Scores [8], Washington PostThe firms who help put together credit scores have access to a surprising amount information about our lives, but they aren't held to much scrutiny themselves. This article sheds light on what they do and the regulatory vacuum they exist in.Contributed by @nfkpdx [9]


Freedom From Pain [10], Al Jazeera EnglishAl Jazeera examines why it's so difficult for people in countries around the world to gain access to pain killers like morphine.Submitted via email by Sophia Qureshi


L.A. County Is Seeing a Spike in Deputy-Fraud Allegations [11], Los Angeles TimesAn independent watchdog group reports that cuts in overtime pay might be leading to a rise in financial crimes among the L.A. County Sheriff's deputies. The alleged crimes range from mortgage fraud to torching a car to cash in on the insurance.See all MuckReads about police misconduct [12].


Universities or Visa Mills? [13]  San Jose Mercury NewsUnaccredited universities in California are bringing thousands of international students to the United States with the promise they can get them student visas—a promise they don't actually have the ability to keep.Contributed by @sdutWatchdog [14]


Blood in the Water [15], Outside magazineA disturbing pattern of whale trainer deaths raises questions about how marine parks should operate.Contributed by @longreads [16]


Small Town Teacher Seeks Help for Big Debt, Ends Up in Bankruptcy [17], iWatch NewsA profile of a retired schoolteacher who paid a firm to help her get out of debt and ended up losing $7,000, none of which went to her creditors. The story is part of a series on financial [18] service businesses that abuse consumers.Contributed by @sscarpinelli [19]


How Foreign Money Can Find Its Way Into Political Campaigns [20], Huffington PostThough it's illegal for U.S. political candidates to take money from foreign interests, disclosure filings suggest that foreign governments and corporations are hiring lobbyists to donate to campaigns for them.Contributed by @POGOBlog [21]


Sloppy Investigation of Sloppy Investigation in Baily Case [22], New America MediaAfter Bay Area journalist Chauncey Bailey was murdered in 2007, a group of journalists banded together to finish the investigation he'd been working on. Now some of those reporters are documenting flaws in the two inquiries into the Oakland police's handling of the case.Contributed by @ProPubPR [23]


Superintendent Merry-Go-Round Yields Fat Severances [24], Chicago TribuneThe Chicago Tribune investigates secretive buyout deals that Illinois school districts make with departing superintendents—even ones who were asked to leave due to poor performance.See other MuckReads about education [25].


These stories and many more can be found at ProPublica [1]. You can also subscribe to a daily #MuckReads email [26], or follow ProPublica on Twitter [4]. Reader submissions are key to making #MuckReads a success—please contribute! [27]

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