Under former Purple Army Chief Andy Stern, the union's liabilities skyrocketed from $7.6 million to nearly $121 million. Stern burned through $61 million to put Barack Obama and the Democratic ruling majority in place. And before abruptly stepping down in April, he installed a cadre of labor management stooges embroiled in financial scandals across the country.
One of them, Stern protege and former SEIU national Vice President Tyrone Freeman, remains under FBI investigation for siphoning off hundreds of thousands of dollars in dues money for his personal enrichment and pleasure. The Los Angeles Times uncovered schemes that ranged from piping $600,000 in union contracts to his wife's video production and entertainment ventures to paying his mother-in-law $8,000 a month to babysit his daughter and other union employees' children to footing a $13,000 bill for membership at a Beverly Hills cigar club.
Another Stern underling, former SEIU leader Alejandro Stephens, is under FBI investigation, the LA Times reported this week, for $150,000 in consulting fees paid "under a confidential agreement" signed by Stern. The feds allege the money funded a no-show job for Stephens. While probing the smelly deal, the feds also stumbled upon a cozy agreement by SEIU executives to shell out $80,000 to promote a book Stern wrote in 2006. The SEIU may not have been looking after rank-and-file workers, but Stern made sure the SEIU was looking after him.
Now, Stern's profligate successors will steer an estimated $44 million in union worker dues into Democratic coffers this November -- all in the name of defeating right-wing enemies of the working people. Perhaps it's time for rank-and-file workers to stage a tea party of their own.
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