SEIU Boss Indicted

SEIU Boss Indicted

After a four-year investigation, federal authorities have charged the former powerful SEIU union boss with corruption. The Los Angeles Times describes Tyrone Freeman as "a rising young star in the national labor movement, already the head of California’s biggest union local and a force in Democratic politics from Los Angeles to Washington, D.C." The Times reports: Freeman’s quick climb up the ranks of the powerful Service Employees International Union burnished his reputation as an effective advocate for the disadvantaged, a man who helped improve the lot of about 190,000 workers paid about $9 an hour to provide in-home care for the infirm. On Tuesday, however, Freeman was indicted on federal charges of stealing from those workers to enrich himself, including by billing the union for costs from his Hawaii wedding. The 15-count indictment secured by the U.S. attorney’s office in Los Angeles also alleges that Freeman violated tax laws and gave false information to a mortgage lender. If convicted on all counts, he could face maximum prison sentences in excess of 200 years. The charges resulted from a nearly four-year investigation by the U.S. Labor Department, FBI and Internal Revenue Service that grew out of a series of reports in the Los Angeles Times on Freeman’s financial dealings as president of SEIU Local 6434. The resulting scandal spread through the 2-million-member SEIU and cost several other union officials their jobs. Citing records and interviews, The Times reports showed that Freeman, 42, funneled hundreds of thousands of dollars of his union members’ hard-earned dues to his relatives and lavished similar sums on golf tournaments, expensive restaurants and a Beverly Hills cigar club. Last month, his wife pleaded guilty to an income tax charge in connection with more than $540,000 she received in union consulting payments at Freeman’s direction.

Pensions are America's Ticking Time Bomb

You know the union bosses' spending and benefits orgy is coming to an end when liberals like Fareed Zakaria of Time Magazine recognize the dangers unfunded pensions that union activists and pro-big labor politicians have created: "A day after Governor Scott Walker won his recall election, the New York Times wrote, "The biggest political lesson from Wisconsin may be that the overwhelming dominance of money on the Republican side will continue to haunt Democrats." Democrats have drawn much the same conclusion. "You've got a handful of self-interested billionaires who are trying to leverage their money across the country," said David Axelrod, Barack Obama's senior campaign strategist. "Does that concern me? Of course that concerns me." Warren Buffett calls the costs of public-sector retirees a "time bomb." They are the single biggest threat to the U.S.'s fiscal health. If the U.S. is going to face a Greek-style crisis, it will not be at the federal level but rather with state and local governments. The numbers are staggering. In California, total pension liabilities--the money the state is legally required to pay its public-sector retirees--are 30 times its annual budget deficit. Annual pension costs rose by 2,000% from 1999 to 2009. In Illinois, they are already 15% of general revenue and growing. Ohio's pension liabilities are now 35% of the state's entire GDP.