The Better Government Association (BGA) has hired award-winning investigative reporter David Kidwell, best known for breaking the Chicago red light camera scandal and uncovering corruption tied to ex-Gov. Rod Blagojevich. The addition of Kidwell reinforces the commitment of the Chicago nonprofit to its mission of hard-hitting watchdog journalism with an eye toward stories of greater scope and impact.
Kidwell will assume the role of Special Projects Editor. He will start with the BGA in mid-April.
He joins the BGA after 12 years with the Chicago Tribune, where he reported and wrote scores of stories examining Chicago, the state of Illinois and the most powerful public officials in the state.
Skilled in old-fashioned shoe-leather reporting, Kidwell broke a string of stories that laid bare a $2 million bribery scheme – one of the biggest in Chicago history – tied to the city’s red light camera program. The investigation also exposed city oversight of the red light program that was woefully lacking as well as unusual ticket spikes that unfairly penalized tens of thousands of Chicago drivers.
Kidwell also worked on the Tribune team that broke dozens of stories about corruption connected to then-Gov. Rod Blagojevich. Others on that team included the BGA’s current Director of Investigations Bob Secter and Deputy Director of Investigations John Chase.
“I am really looking forward to helping the BGA on its renewed mission to keep public officials accountable, and I am thrilled to be teaming up again with my old friends and colleagues Bob and John,” Kidwell said. “We had a great run together at the Tribune, and I am very excited to get the old crew back together again.”
Before the Tribune, Kidwell spent 15 years as an investigative reporter at the Miami Herald where he was part of the team that won the Pulitzer Prize for its coverage of exiled Cuban boy Elian Gonzalez, and another team that was a Pulitzer finalist for coverage of the space shuttle Columbia tragedy.
BGA President and CEO Andy Shaw said the addition of Kidwell as Special Projects Editor is the latest step in the organization’s commitment to elevating the reach of the BGA’s anti-corruption, good government watchdog work by shining a brighter light on government and holding more public officials accountable.
“Our work has never been more important and Dave’s investigation of the city’s red light camera scandal – from corruption in the awarding of the contract to deceitful practices in the implementation and enforcement of the program – was journalism at its best,” Shaw said.
“We look forward to more impactful, mission-driven investigations from Dave and his team here at the BGA, where we will also be adding more firepower to our other core programs: Policy advocacy, open records litigation, civic engagement and communications.”