Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Conflicting reports on FBI investigation of former SEIU President Andy Stern

Are they, or are they not?  That is the question.

Reports are conflicting this morning regarding a possible criminal probe by the FBI and the Dept of Labor, over a corruption probe of Service Employees International Union, the powerful union once led by Obama buddy, Andy Stern.

Fox News:

WASHINGTON -- The FBI and the U.S. Labor Department are investigating prominent labor leader Andy Stern in their probe of corruption at the Service Employees International Union, according to two people who have been interviewed by federal agents.

The two organized labor officials met with federal agents this summer to answer questions about a six-figure book contract that Stern landed in 2006 and his role in approving money to pay the salary of an SEIU leader in California who allegedly performed no work.

But SEIU and company are denying any such probe exists:

An SEIU spokeswoman flatly denied an Associated Press and Los Angeles Times reports today that the union and its former president Andy Stern are subject to an FBI investigation.

Ringuette said she'd had "not a single report of a federal inquiry" from the union's staff. "Andy hasn't been contacted" by the FBI, she said.

"We have no idea what thees unnamed souces are talking about, but we have not been contacted by any federal agency on this matter," she said, blaming the story on the union's bitter California rivals.

"We did talk to [the FBI] a year ago, but we weren't the subject of investigation. We helped them unearth info about Stephens," Ringuette said.

What we know for sure is this:  SEIU has been the focus of a very high profile investigation regarding several financial scandals in the last two years.  In 2008, the LA Times meticulously described a scheme in which California SEIU boss Tyrone Freeman allegedly swiped a few hundred large from union coffers. The embarrassed union deep-sixed Freeman and demanded restitution.

In April of this year, Stern abrubtly left his post as President two years before the end of his term, claiming “personal life” matters were more pressing.

And what we can speculate on, is this from the Fox News report:

One person who spoke to federal agents twice, in May and June, said they asked about a 2006 contract in which Stern received a $175,000 advance from Simon & Schuster to write the book "A Country That Works." The SEIU and its locals bought thousands of copies of the book after it was published. The union also paid thousands to fact-check and promote the book, but Stern pocketed the advance.

Follow the bouncing money ball.  Stern writes a book and gets a sweet advance payment.  The book hits shelves and the union membership buys it up, does its own “fact-checking” and uses thousands in union funds to promote the book.  SEIU engages in a little self-adulation, Stern walks away with a six-figure sum.  Maybe it’s not corruption per se, but it sure doesn’t pass the smell test.