Peter Jennings and the New York Times couldn't get enough of the looting stories out of Iraq. But they couldn't care less about a massive, systematic looting scheme here at home that is robbing America's schoolchildren and rank-and-file teachers blind.
These homegrown plunderers have been accused or convicted of siphoning precious educational resources to pay for homes, hotel bills, mink coats, crystal, fine art, furniture, vacations, car repairs, football tickets, limousine service, their children's private school tuition, and Democrat party lobbying.
These sticky-fingered fiends are based in Washington, D.C., Miami-Dade, Fla., and in gilded office buildings across the country.
These are the looters liberals ignore: the greedy leaders of America's public teachers' unions.
While Democrats fumed over a handful of pilfered artifacts in Baghdad last month, the son-in-law of a top Washington, D.C., teachers' union official pleaded guilty in federal court to money laundering charges involving nearly half a million dollars' of union funds. Michael Wayne Martin created a bogus company and funneled more than $480,000 in checks from the Washington Teachers Union into a bank account for the fake firm.
Martin kept some of the money for himself to cover personal expenses including his home mortgage, credit card bills, car notes, vehicle maintenance, home improvement projects, his kids' school bills, Washington Redskins tickets, and limo service. The rest of the booty was repaid to former union president Barbara Bullock; her aide, Gwendolyn Hemphill (Martin's mother-in-law); and former union treasurer James Baxter.
All three are subjects of a federal grand jury investigation; they are suspected of embezzling a grand total of at least $5 million in funds over seven years. Earlier this year, FBI agents seized luxury items from their homes or businesses, including African art, designer clothes, handbags, wigs, a 50-inch flat-screen, plasma television, furs, a crystal ice bucket and a 288-piece set of Tiffany sterling silverware.
In a separate court hearing this week involving the Washington union's parent body, the American Federation of Teachers, U.S. District Judge Emmet G. Sullivan lambasted national union officials for failing to audit the Washington leadership. "It's a sad commentary," Sullivan noted. "It seems everyone in a responsible position fell asleep at the switch. The only ones who were vigilant were the thieves, who took everything that wasn't nailed down."