David Cay Johnston is a Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative reporter and best-selling author who teaches business regulation, property and tax law at Syracuse University’s law and graduate business schools.
Johnston’s innovative coverage of tax issues in The New York Times prompted tax policy changes by Presidents Clinton and George W. Bush that Congress valued at more than $250 billion.
He is the immediate past president of the 5,700-member Investigative Reporters & Editors organization. He is also co-founder and chairman emeritus of a lodging management company.
Johnston wrote a best-selling trilogy on the American Economy – Perfectly Legal (taxes), Free Lunch (subsidies) and The Fine Print (monopolies) – as well as a casino industry exposé, Temples of Chance, and edited the anthology Divided: The Perils of Our Growing Inequality. His next book is The Prosperity Tax: A New Federal Tax Code for the 21st Century Economy. He was a consultant on electricity regulation and rare earths for the Netflix series House of Cards.
When he was 18 years old the San Jose Mercury recruited him, hiring him a few months later as a staff writer. His investigations over the next four decades appeared in that paper and The New York Times, as well as in the Detroit Free Press, Los Angeles Times and Philadelphia Inquirer. He exposed LAPD political spying and brutality; revealed news blackouts and manipulations that forced a six-station broadcast chain off the air; solved an especially vicious murder by confronting the real killer, winning freedom for an innocent man; deconstructed the way foreign agents from South Africa and Taiwan secretly influenced American government policy; and explained the economics of former GE chairman Jack Welch’s retirement perks, prompting Welch to relinquish them.
The Washington Monthly described him as “one of America’s most important journalists,” and the Portland Oregonian called his work the equal of the original muckrakers: Ida Tarbell, Lincoln Steffens and Upton Sinclair.