Friday, March 24, 2006

Deep pockets and sticky fingers

Just doing a little research tonight, preparing to bring a little DONKEY CONS insight to the masses. It's sort of a connect-the-dots thing:

A. Democrats are demonstrably more prone to corruption than Republicans. The best available information indicates that in Congress since 1975, corrupt Democrats outnumbered corrupt Republicans by a factor of 3-to-1 (the actual scoreboard is 46 to 15, according to our research. When we say this, it apparently causes some liberals to scream, "What about Tom DeLay? What about Duke Cunningham?" Sorry to disappoint you, liberals: We counted them both among the 15.)

B. In recent years, big money liberals like George Soros have poured millions into pro-Democrat groups like MoveOn.org, without achieving any meaningful electoral gains for Democrats.

Could A explain B? In other words, do the Democrats not benefit from the full value of their contributors' donations because rich liberals are getting ripped off by the Donkey Con-men?

I'm just beginning my research, but take a look at this profile of Americans Coming Together. ACT's CEO was Steve Rosenthal, former political director of the AFL-CIO. Also "affiliated" with ACT was Andy Stern, president of SEIU -- both top union operatives.

An entire chapter of DONKEY CONS -- 16 pages, sourced with 58 endnotes -- is devoted to the corruption that labor unions bring to the Democratic Party, and we just scratched the surface. Linda Chavez and Daniel Gray wrote a whole book (BETRAYAL) on this subject. In just the three months since we finished the manuscript, former union activist Robert Fitch has published SOLIDARITY FOR SALE, and NYU professor James Jacobs has published MOBSTERS, UNIONS AND FEDS.

Because of Big Labor's fading strength -- only 12.5 percent of U.S. workers are union members now, and only 7.8 percent of private-sector workers are in unions -- most people don't pay much attention to the AFL-CIO anymore. And so most are probably unaware of how important union bosses are to the Democratic Party. In 1996, for instance, the AFL-CIO and the NEA exercised veto power over the entire campaign operation of the Democratic National Committee:
The FEC's final report concluded the AFL-CIO had "apparent veto power" over election decisions made by Democrats and that the unions had "the authority to approve or disapprove plans, projects and needs of the DNC and its state parties with respect to the coordinated campaign." ....
[T]he NEA effected its profound influence over Democratic campaign strategy through its role as a member of the "Coordinated Campaign Steering Committee," which set national and statewide campaign strategy for the election of Democratic candidates. In addition to the NEA and DNC, other members of the Steering Committee were the 1996 Clinton-Gore Campaign, the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, the Democratic Governors' Association, the Democratic Leadership Campaign Committee, the AFL-CIO, and Emily's List. ...
[One internal memo stated:] "When the DNC and its national partners, including the . . . the AFL-CIO and the NEA agree on the contents of a plan, each national partner will give their funding commitment to the state."

OK, so the AFL-CIO bosses call the shots at the DNC. But we also know how widespread corruption is within Big Labor. Union officials are so routinely busted for ripping off the rank-and-file that there is a an entire Web site devoted to reporting union corruption.

Many readers of DONKEY CONS -- especially younger readers -- will be shocked by some of the accounts of union corruption packed into a single 16-page chapter. For instance, in 2005, top offficials of the Washington (D.C.) Teachers Union (WTU) were convicted for their roles in looting the union's coffers of nearly $5 million. WTU president Barbara Bullock spent her ill-gotten gains on such things as Louis Vuitton and Chanel handbags, clothes from Neiman Marcus and $20,000 in wigs. So flagrant was this larceny that the union was nearly bankrupt. The thieves finally got caught when, in a desperate effort to pay the bills, WTU officials tried to increase union dues tenfold.

The WTU scandal was spectacular, but similar crimes are committed on a smaller scale all the time. For instance, courtesy of the National Legal and Policy Center, here are just some highlights for a few weeks of 2006:
  • JAN. 27: Michael Crogan, ex-secretary-treasurer for Local 1382 of the United Transportation Union, was sentenced to five months imprisonment, 150 days home confinement and three years supervised release for embezzling union funds totaling $31,700
  • FEB. 2: Tim Burke, formerly business manager and financial secretary for Roofers Local 42, was sentenced to probation for embezzling more than $30,000 in union funds.
  • FEB. 6: Hawaii union boss Tony Rutledge, son of legendary labor leader Arthur Rutledge, pleaded guilty to federal income tax violations, as part of a plea agreement Rutledge and his son Aaron had been accused of skimming more than $350,000 from a surfboard rental company, and also with diverting assets from Unity House, a non-profit that provides benefits to union members and retirees.
  • FEB. 10: James Jackson, formerly treasurer for Local 200 Unit 62 of the Longshoremen's union, pleaded guilty in federal court to embezzling nearly $13,000 in union funds.
  • FEB. 15: Henry Michael Turner, former treasurer for the Machinists Local 2058, was sentenced to a year in federal prison and two years probation for his role in embezzling $40,474 from the union.
  • FEB. 16: Marcia Huizenga, ex-bookkeeper and office manager for Teamsters Local 822 was sentenced to 3 months in federal prison and 3 years on probation for embezzling $47,131 in union funds.
  • FEB. 27: Joseph Rocha, former business manager and secretary-treasurer for LIUNA Local 1082 sentenced to three years probation for embezzling $29,656 from his local.
  • FEB. 27: Robb Dutchuk, formerly secretary-treasurer for American Postal Workers Union Local 349, was sentenced in U.S. District Court for the District of North Dakota to three years probation for his theft from the local and ordered to make restitution in the amount of $18,812.18.
  • MARCH 6: Martin Ludlow, former Los Angeles City Councilman and head of the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor, agreed to plead guilty to felony conspiracy to secretly divert more than $36,000 in union funds to his 2003 council campaign.
Get the picture? And so I'm looking at the union officials and ex-union officials involved in ACT and I can't help thinking to myself, "Are Soros and his deep-pocket liberal friends being scammed?" Here's a bit of a September 2004 Business Week story about Stern and Rosenthal:
Stern ... [is] building separate political muscle, shelling out an astonishing $65 million to elect John Kerry. ... Stern helped found the Democratic Party's most successful 527 political committee, America Coming Together, which is headed by former AFL-CIO Political Director Steve Rosenthal (a close personal friend with whom he has shared a New Jersey beach house for 25 years).

The son of middle-class parents in suburban West Orange, N.J., [Stern] got an Ivy League education at the University of Pennsylvania. ... His zeal for left-leaning social causes dovetailed with the traditions of the SEIU. As a young EIU official in the early 1980s, Stern joined other activists in the union to force through controversial resolutions opposing U.S. military intervention in Latin America. More recently he
threw his union's weight behind Howard Dean's Presidential campaign, switching to the more mainstream Kerry only after Dean flamed out. ...(His wife, Jane Perkins, from whom he is getting a divorce, headed the environmental network Friends of the Earth in the 1990s.)
How many SEIU rank-and-file members have Ivy League degrees and beach homes? Does the average working stiff give a rat's rear end about such liberal boutique causes as environmentalism and Latin American policy? Stern is living high on the hog and pouring millions in SEIU money into ratholes like the Dean and Kerry campaigns and ... for what? It's not just us evil right-wingers asking these questions, either. In January 2005, Tom Buffenbarger, president of the Machinists union (IAM), gave a brutal assessment of what the Democrats and the Soros-backed organizations did in 2004:
Even before passage of McCain-Feingold, Steve Rosenthal and his beach house buddy Andy Stern were targeting states like New Hampshire, Colorado, Virginia, Louisiana, Nevada, Maine, and Arizona.
Their lock-step troika of 527’s spent over $260 million in up to 20 states only to lose 16 of their targeted states.
Now along comes Andy Stern Dean-screaming that the sky is falling. And why? Because John Kerry lost Ohio by 119,000 votes!
Hells bells, the IAM knew Ohio was lost the moment the Kerry campaign decided our convention would be an
“off the record” event for its vice-presidential candidate.
We knew then that John Kerry didn’t understand the importance of the Cincinnati television market … didn’t understand the power of the jobs issue in Ohio … and did not connect with working men and women in the most critical battleground state of all.
We knew that the Democrats and their 527’s were wasting millions of dollars trying to persuade the undecided voters in the smallest states of the union.
But Andy Stern wants to blame everyone else for that defeat. He refuses to take responsibility for his role – and his pal Steve Rosenthal’s role – for their strategy, a strategy that wasted precious resources on tiny states.
They left the most powerful and potent unionized states out of their electoral equation. And, as a result, they lost the popular vote by 3.5 million votes. And they lost Ohio.
Maybe Buffenbarger doesn't know the inside scoop about political campaigning:

1. As long as the money keeps coming in, the staff gets paid no matter how badly the candidate loses.
2. The guys who place the TV ads earn a commission for every chunk of airtime they buy.
3. The relationships between top campaign officials and hired consultants offer many lucrative opportunities for clever operators.

There are plenty of people in Washington who know how the campaign game is played. There are folks with big estates out in the Virginia hunt country who got rich running campaigns. They get paid, win or lose. And sometimes a losing campaign can be far more lucrative than a winner.

In 2004, President Bush raised nearly $375 million for his re-election. His Democratic rivals -- the top seven contenders for the Democratic nomination, Kerry, Dean, Edwards, Clark, Gephardt, Lieberman and Kucinich -- raised a combined $518 million. That's $144 million more than Bush raised, and doesn't include the millions and millions expended separately by the DNC, the Dems' 527s or the unions. Yet Bush still won.

If I were George Soros -- or if I were a smart union boss like Buffenberger -- I'd hire some sharp accountants and some financial researchers, and I'd find out what's been done with all this money that's been thrown away on losing efforts. There's just too much money going into these campaigns, and too little to show in return, to keep taking it for granted that everybody's on the up-and-up.

Bipartisan agreement is a rare thing nowadays, but both Republican and Democratic campaign operatives -- for very different reasons -- are probably united in the hope that Soros and the other big Dem moneybags never wise up to how they're being scammed.

UPDATES:

5/15: Meet the New Boss
5/14: Begala: Dean Wasted DNC Money
5/10: MoveOn.org & the Politics of Deceit

5/3: MSNBC & MoveOn.org's Big Lie
4/15: Hardhats vs. Moonbats

3/28: Corrupt Union Officials Indicted


-- McCAIN

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