Mr. Jerry Kammer
- 2006 winner, National Reporting category
Jerry Kammer grew up in the state of Maryland, near Washington, DC. He got his first journalism job in 1974 with the Navajo Times, a newspaper owned by the Navajo Indian Nation in the state of Arizona. He had gone to the Navajo Reservation two years earlier to teach at a Catholic school. Kammer’s reporting there led to a book, The Second Long Walk, which was published by the University of New Mexico Press
After earning a master's degree in American Studies at the University of New Mexico, Kammer became the Northern Mexico correspondent for The Arizona Republic. There he covered immigration and border issues, including the maquiladora industry, which attracts hundreds of foreign corporations to Mexican border towns where they employ low-wage assembly workers. His work on the industry received the Robert F. Kennedy Award for humanitarian journalism.
In 1989 Kammer joined the Arizona Republic’s investigative team. For the next four years, he covered the story of Arizona financier Charlies Keating, who became the symbol of a national scandal involving the savings and loan industry, whose campaign contributions had cultivated many friends in Congress.
In 1993-1994, Kammer was a Nieman journalism fellow at Harvard University. In 2000, he became the Arizona Republic's correspondent in Washington. Two years later, he joined the Washington bureau of Copley News Service, specializing in immigration and U.S.-Mexico relations.
In 2005 and 2006 Kammer reported on a scandal whose central figure was Congressman Randy Cunningham of California. Colleague Marcus Stern had broken the story, with an article revealing that Cunningham sold his house at an inflated price to a defense contractor.
Kammer joined Stern in showing that Cunningham had used his position on the Defense Appropriations Subcommittee to ensure that the contractor received lucrative Pentagon contracts. Stern, Kammer and their colleagues then exposed a network of connections involving other contractors, lobbyists, and the chairman of the Appropriations Committee. Their reporting was honored with the 2006 Pulitzer Prize for National Reporting. Cunningham, along with three others whose corruption they revealed, was convicted of federal crimes.
Kammer is married to Professor Marie Hardin, Associate Dean for Graduate Studies and Research at the Pennsylvania State University School of Communications. He is now a senior research fellow at the Center for Immigration Studies.