Painting a Picture of Corporate Misdeeds

April 20, 2021

Cover of 1980 "Fortune" magazine with headline that says, "How Lawless Are Big Companies?" and a photo of a person getting their fingerprints taken by a member of law enforcement.
Source: Fortune magazine, 1980.

“Four decades ago, as a young researcher at Fortune, Philip Mattera was asked to help report the cover story for the Dec. 1, 1980, issue, titled ‘How Lawless Are Big Companies?’ While plowing his way through records from various government regulators to compile a dossier on actions taken by agencies against the Fortune 500, Mattera had an idea: What if he could build a central source for the information?

Mattera, now 67, began realizing that dream in 2015 when he created an online database as research director and the head of the Corporate Research Project for Good Jobs First, a nonprofit, nonpartisan watchdog. Today Mattera’s open-access, searchable ‘Violation Tracker’ provides a wide-ranging record of financial penalties, such as fines and settlements, incurred by companies and nonprofits operating in the U.S. from 2000 to the present. The data is taken from more than 300 sources, including federal and state agencies and state attorneys general.”

The full story is available to subscribers here.

Mattera wrote more about what led to Violation Tracker at his blog aptly titled, “Dirt Diggers Digest: chronicling corporate misbehavior (and how to research it).”