When Barack Obama took office, one of the early things he did was install Hilda Solis, a long-time union operative, as head of the Department of Labor. And one of the first things she did was to ease the reporting requirements on unions, softening the violation of disclosure rules.
In August of 2009 Labor Sec. Solis immediately let it be known that her department would no longer initiate “enforcement actions against union officers and union employees based solely on the failure to file” the LM2 disclosure forms. Since that time two major unions have been caught filing inaccurate lobbying reports and disclosure statements.
Politico reports that the Center for Public Integrity has found that the “National Association of Letter Carriers have failed to detail the group’s specific lobbying activities, as required by law.” In May the group also found that the Maritime Officers union had also violated disclosure rules and had been doing so for a decade.
Politico goes on to quote government officials whining that they don’t have enough employees to thoroughly look into union disclosure statements and that unions often file their papers unaware of the violations. Yeah. “Unaware.”
The Politico piece ends on a telling note, however.
The Campaign Legal Center’s McGehee said that the letter carriers union case seemed like an innocent mistake, observing that it “sounds more like inattention or sloppiness than nefarious motives.” There is, she said, a distinction “between honest and willful mistakes.” But with groups feeling no fear of repercussions for misfiling, it’s impossible to be sure.
After all, she added, “nobody’s looking.”
Of course unions have no fear of the federal government. No one there cares if unions act criminally or not. After all, these pols are getting millions in donations from these same unions that are lying on their disclosure forms. Apparently getting campaign contributions is far more important than holding these unions to the law.
But we need to remember one other thing that often gets lost in the mix when we are talking law breaking unions. The reason they have to disclose these lobbying activities in the first place is because government has gotten too big. If government was not involving itself in every aspect of our lives, lobbying would be far less necessary for unions, business or advocacy groups.
All these billions of dollars pumped into lobbying Congress is far more a fault of Congress taking on more than it legitimately belongs taking on than it is the fault of corrupt lobbyists, unions or no.
Cut out government and lobbyists go away. Cut out lobbyists and few disclosure reports will even be necessary.
But all that aside, we see how the federal government turns a blind eye to the corruption, lies and criminal neglect of disclosure rules perpetrated by their bag men in Big Labor. Even George W. Bush’s administration failed to hold unions to account and the Bushies were harder on Big Labor than any president in decades.