Lucy Komisar is a New York City-based investigative journalist. She writes about offshore banking, corporate secrecy, international money laundering, and how they relate to corporate fraud; international corruption; the looting by dictators; financing of terrorism; international crime including arms, drug and people trafficking; and tax evasion. Since 1998, she has been a member of The Drama Desk, the organization of New York Theatre critics, writers and editors, and writes extensively on current Broadway and Off-Broadway shows.
Komisar was editor of the Mississippi Free Press in Jackson, Mississippi from 1962 to 1963. The weekly covered the civil rights movement and related political and labor issues and was read largely by black people in Mississippi. (The newspapers and her other civil rights papers are archived at the University of Southern Mississippi, Hattiesburg.)
Komisar was a national Vice-President of the National Organization for Women from 1970 to 1971 and was successful, with Legislative VP Ann Scott, in getting the US government to extend federal contractor and cable TV affirmative action rules to women. Her NOW papers are in the Schlesinger archives at Harvard University.
In the early 1970s, during the middle of the Feminist movement, Komisar testified in support of the New York City bill that banned sex discrimination in public accommodations. That broke down the "no women allowed" barrier at places such as McSorley's, a famous and long time "men only" bar in downtown Manhattan. To emphasize the point, she had the book party for her book, "The New Feminism," at the former men's grill of the Roosevelt Hotel in New York.
In the 1980s and 1990s, she wrote about international affairs, with a focus on movements for democracy in the developing world. In that context she reported from Central America, the Philippines, Zaire and elsewhere in Asia, the Middle East and Latin America. She also wrote about European politics and foreign policy and covered dissident movements in the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe. She was banned from East Germany and harassed by security police in Zaire.
Since 2004, Komisar has written a series of articles, all archived in The Komisar Scoop which allege corrupt involvement between former Haitian president Jean-Bertrand Aristide, his Miami-based lawyer Ira Kurzban and IDT Corporation Vice Chairman Jim Courter; the articles were ramped up during the 2008 U.S. presidential election, when Courter resigned from the McCain campaign after Komisar exposed on Portfolio.com an FCC fine related to improper conduct of business with Teleco Haiti (since privatized as Natcom). Kurzban denied the allegations brought forth by Komisar, and she was criticized by supporters of Aristide's presidency. She is acclaimed by Aristide's opponents. Kurzban received $10 million from Haiti during Aristide's presidency.
Komisar wrote a chapter called "BCCI's Double Game: Banking on America, Banking on Jihad", for the 2007 book A Game as Old as Empire. She exposed the secret 1976 meeting in Santiago at which Henry Kissinger told Augusto Pinochet to ignore the criticisms Kissinger had been pressured to make publicly regarding Pinochet's violations of human rights.
Komisar also exposed the practice of Sodexo, a major provider of food to schools, colleges, hospitals, companies and other institutions, of demanding and getting kickbacks from its suppliers. The article appeared in March 2009 in In These Times. In July 2010, Sodexo paid a $20 million settlement for the kickbacks it had exacted for contracts with state schools and colleges. Some of the money went to state institutions; some went to the whistleblowers whose story had been the basis for the Komisar article.
In 2010, Komisar won the Gerald Loeb Award for business and financial journalism by medium & small newspapers; the National Press Club award for Newspaper Consumer Journalism; the Sigma Delta Chi Award for Non-Deadline Reporting (Daily Circulation 100,001+) bestowed by the Society of Professional Journalists; the National Headliner Award, second place for Business News, administered by The Press Club of Atlantic City; and the Sunshine State Award, first place for Non-Deadline Business Reporting, given by South Florida chapter, the Society of Professional Journalists for an expose in the Miami Herald that told how Ponzi schemer Allen Stanford had in 1998 gotten agreement from the Miami Banking Department to set up an office in Miami that could move money offshore without regulation. As a result of the revelation, the Florida legislature passed a law to prevent such an occurrence in the future.
Komisar is a founder of the international Tax Justice Network and author of its report, Citigroup: a History and Culture of Tax Evasion (January 2006). She is founder of TJN-USA, TJN's American branch.
Komisar is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations (1994 to present), and was a member of the board of PEN American Center (the writers organization, 1976–1996).
- The New Feminism (New York: Franklin Watts, 1972; Paperback Library, 1972), primer on feminism, including history, law, work, education and origins of contemporary movement.
- Down and Out in the U.S.A. A History of Public Welfare (New York: Franklin Watts, 1973 and 1977; New Viewpoints, 1973 and 1977), history of the American welfare system from colonial times to the present.
- Corazon Aquino: The Story of a Revolution (New York: George Braziller, 1987), political biography of Corazon Aquino, former president of the Philippines. (Zurich: Benziger Verlag, 1988; Manila: The National Bookstore, 1988)