When corporate moguls get nabbed for ripping off shareholders,
the media go ape-wild. Last year's front-page headlines were filled with Big
Business scandals and barrels of op-ed indignation about capitalist greed.
But when teachers' union officials plunder their members' coffers in Enronic
proportions, the media go . . . AWOL.
I recently read a nauseating FBI affidavit filed last month in
support of search and seizure warrants for three teachers' union officials
in Washington, D.C. The accused villains under federal investigation are
former Washington Teachers Union President Barbara Bullock, her aide, Gwen
Hemphill, and her treasurer, James Baxter. All three are prominent cronies
of D.C. Mayor Anthony Williams and key players in the local Democratic
The union extracts nearly $700 a month per teacher from its
5,500-member group. The Trump-spending trio and several others are suspected
of embezzling more than $2 million in member dues dating back to 1995. Here
is just one excerpt of the FBI affidavit detailing Bullock's selfless
"Among (her) purchases were: a $20,000 mink coat, along with
other mink coats that . . . have been stored at Miller Furs in Chevy Chase,
Maryland; nearly $500,000 in custom-made clothing from a Baltimore clothing
maker known as Van Style . . . more than $9,000 at retailer Bloomingdales;
more than $9,000 for clothing and accessories from a Florida vendor known as
Body Scentre Limited; more than $11,000 in purchases from a retailer known
as Friedman's Shoes in Atlanta, Georgia; more than $5,000 to Galt Brothers
Jewelry in Washington, D.C.; more than $5,000 to Graffiti AudioVideo for
electronic equipment; more than $12,000 at retailer Hecht Company; more than
$3,000 at the Hermes Boutique in Vienna, Virginia . . . "
Wait, there's more:
"(M)ore than $5,000 for bedding and a desk pad from the Horchow
Collection; more than $6,000 to vendor J. Crew; more than $15,000 . . . for
St. John Knit apparel; more than $4,000 for merchandise from Little
Switzerland JNU, in Juneau, Alaska; more than $60,000 to MS Rau Antiques in
New Orleans, Louisiana (including $57,000 for a 288-piece Tiffany sterling
silver set); more than $17,000 to Miller Furs; more than $150,000 at
retailer Neiman-Marcus; more than $50,000 at retailer Nordstrom; more than
$4,000 at beauty salon Oriental Oasis; more than $25,000 for services of the
Parkway Custom Dry Cleaners in Chevy Chase, Maryland; more than $9,000 to
Ramee Art Gallery in Washington, D.C.; more than $40,000 at retailer Saks
Fifth Avenue; more than $50,000 at a vendor known as Snazzy Limited in
Orange Park, Florida; more than $4,000 at the St. John Boutique in Beverly
Hills, California, and New York, New York; more than $2,500 for china or
crystal from The Lenox Shop in Williamsburg, Virginia, and Prince William,
Virginia; more than $6,000 in gourmet kitchen equipment from retailer
Williams-Sonoma; almost $4,000 to jeweler Tiffany & Co.; more than $20,000
to the Atlanta gallery of the artist William Tolliver; and more than $7,000
to Wagner Opticians."
Bullock spread the wealth to friends and family. According to
the FBI agent, her sister received "a two-door, French, hand-painted
armoire" from an Alexandria, Va., antiques dealer, Tradition de France.
Bullock's driver and errand boy, Leroy Holmes, received checks "totaling in
excess of $1,000,000, which he converted to cash to pay himself more than
$90,000 per year, plus additional funds to maintain and pay for personal
vehicles, and provide cash to others."
Bullock's aide, Hemphill, also shared her booty with family,
including $20,000 in African art; a $12,999 50" plasma, flat-screen
television; and a $950 handbag from Neiman-Marcus. Union Treasurer Baxter is
suspected of rampant book-cooking to hide his union income from the IRS. The
trio also "enlisted the aid of an accountant to help them hide the
misconduct," according to investigators. Also under scrutiny: Interim Union
President Esther S. Hankerson, who has held leadership positions since 1994
and whose credit-card use is reportedly being probed.
Meanwhile, the union's rent, phone bills and health premiums for
retired teachers went unpaid.
This is a sickening and all-too-familiar case of education
corruption involving the looting of compulsory union dues. Rank-and-file
teachers have fought across the country for the right to stop union tyrants
from siphoning money from their paychecks for political lobbying and
personal aggrandizement. Big Labor's accounting system is a sham. But you
won't read about this scandal on the editorial pages of The New York Times.
After all, the looters did it "for the children," right?