12 Year Later, Money Trail Still Ruffling Feathers

By SteveK 

Perhaps the greatest indication of the impact of Brian Ross’s investigative work at the Conventions occurred today when Denver police arrested one of his producer/reporters.

Ross’ investigative unit has been following the Money Trail since the 1996 political conventions. The unit heads to high priced, low profile parties put on by donors for the political elite. And apparently there are hundreds each year.

“You wouldn’t know about them unless you went where we went,” Ross told TVNewser today. So far the unit has seen everyone from DNC chairman Howard Dean to singer John Legend attend these events. Reports have aired all this week and will again all next week at the RNC.


Today TVNewser saw the operation in action. Senior investigative producer Rhonda Schwartz is the point person, armed with a spreadsheet of potential events, directing various teams in the field where to go and what they might encounter. (The arrest of reporter Asa Eslocker would come later in the afternoon.)

Reflecting on the series, Schwartz says, “This was the first time anyone tried to show this. And we’re still doing this and it’s still largely an ethics-free zone.”

Ross also talked to us about his other big recent story…that story about John Edwards you may have heard about…

“I never thought John Edwards would sit down and talk to me,” he said, while expressing gratitude toward Edwards for agreeing to an interview with his ABC colleague Bob Woodruff.

The story, “took forever,” Ross says. “Part of the job is breaking big stories. We have to be working on long term stories as well.”

Ross also described how happy he was with his presence on the Web. “In 30 years of network TV it’s as exciting to have my own front page,” he said.

Earlier: Five questions for…Brian Ross