Everything you need to know about President Obama's commitment to fiscal responsibility and cost containment can be summed up in two words: Andy Stern. The profligate, corruption-coddling head of the powerful Service Employees International Union was named to the White House debt commission last week. If Obama thinks Stern holds the cure for our government spending woes, you can be certain his latest health care prescription will be fiscal hemlock.
Obama extolled Stern and his other federal debt panel appointees as "distinguished individuals" who'll bring a "sense of integrity" to the job. Tell that to rank-and-file SEIU members across the country who have watched their hard-earned dues go down the tubes under Stern's thugocracy. While fat-cat union bosses toss hundreds of millions of dues into Democratic coffers, low-wage SEIU members' pension funds are eroding and the organization's debt is piling up. And federal prosecutors are reviewing requests that the union be investigated for potential illegal lobbying activities at the White House.
More damning: As head of the 2.2 million-member labor union, Stern directly installed a cadre of labor management stooges embroiled in financial scandals across the country.
SEIU crony Tyrone Freeman, like Obama, began his career as an urban community organizer. In 1994, Stern plucked Freeman from Georgia and set his loyalist up as head of Local 6434, the sprawling home-care workers' chapter in southern California that represents an estimated 160,000 workers who make about $9 an hour caring for the elderly and disabled. Stern then named him a national vice president. It was part of Stern's grander plan to consolidate power by merging locals into statewide chapters.
An extensive investigation by the Los Angeles Times exposed how Stern's protege siphoned off hundreds of thousands of dollars in dues money for his personal enrichment and pleasure. Moreover, the paper alleged, Stern helped cover up the scandal. Freeman lived large -- piping $600,000 in union contracts to his wife's video production and entertainment ventures. The local also paid his mother-in-law $8,000 a month to babysit his daughter and other union employees' children; footed a $13,000 bill for membership at a Beverly Hills cigar club; and forked over $8,000 in union dues to cover expenses for Freeman's Hawaiian wedding.