Department of Labor officials these past several years haven't been shy about conveying their political preferences to their own labor force. An ongoing Capitol Hill probe has found out as much. Late last month the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform released a report concluding that the Obama-era department has spent at least $725,000 on elevator posters, publicity contests and other forms of advocacy intended to boost employee morale. Most of this motivational agitprop was the doing of first-term Secretary Hilda Solis. Chairman Darrell Issa, R-Calif., a longtime critic, noted: "This questionable activity has been going on for some time. As my staff has learned, in 2009 DOL began producing weekly elevator posters for the 23 passenger elevators at DOL's headquarters in Washington, D.C." Tax-funded ideology marches on.
On September 11, Anthony Davis, former president of National Postal Mail Handlers Union Local 314, an affiliate of the Laborers union, was convicted by a jury in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri on one count of embezzling $40,659 in funds from the St. Louis-based union. He had been indicted in April following an investigation by the U.S. Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards. Prosecutors had alleged that Davis, 51, a resident of O'Fallon, Ill., submitted fake invoices to the union and pocketed the reimbursements. Though maintaining his innocence, a jury, after a five-day trial, convicted him. Sentencing is set for early December.
Considering what they likely stole, Ryan Sherard and Fred Correll caught a break. On August 4, Sherard, former president of Graphic Communications International Union District Council 2, a Fullerton, Calif.-based Teamster affiliate, was sentenced in U.S. District Court for the Central District of California to three years of probation and 1,000 hours of community for filing a false union financial report related to his theft of more than $9,600 in union funds and filing a false tax return. That same day, Correll, ex-council treasurer, was sentenced to two years of probation and ordered to pay a $10,000 fine plus interest. Sherard and Correll, respectively, had pleaded guilty on April 23 and April 29. The actions follow a probe by the IRS and the Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards, Office of Inspector General, and Employee Benefits Security Administration.
Ann Marie Shaffer was too clever by a half. On August 7, Shaffer, formerly the dues clerk for International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 58, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan to one count of embezzling funds from the Detroit-based union in the amount of $101,059. The plea follows a joint investigation by the U.S. Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards and Office of Inspector General.
On August 4, Eric Barnett, former president of American Postal Workers Union Local 171, was sentenced in the Circuit Court of the City of Portsmouth, Virginia, to four years of probation for embezzling funds from the Portsmouth union. He also was ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $10,212. Barnett had pleaded guilty in May after being indicted last November. The actions follow a probe by the U.S. Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards.
On July 31, Brian Stoneburner, former secretary-treasurer of International Union of Bricklayers and Allied Craftworkers Local 44, was indicted in Perry County, Ohio, Court of Common Pleas, on one count of grand theft of between $7,500 and $150,000 from the Newark, Ohio-based union. The indictment follows an investigation by the U.S. Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards.
On July 30, Dale Hull, former secretary-treasurer of Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen (BLET) Division 261, was charged in U.S. District Court for the District of Kansas in a five-count indictment with embezzling more than $14,000 in funds from the Herington, Kan. union. The indictment follows an investigation by the U.S. Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards.
On July 29, Milton Hilliard, former secretary-treasurer of Security, Police, Fire Professionals of America Local 287, was charged in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia in an information count with one count of embezzlement in the amount of $25,575 from the Washington, D.C.-based union. The charge follows an investigation by the Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards.
On July 21, Michael Couch, former business manager for Sheet Metal Workers Local 270, was sentenced in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Oklahoma to three years of probation for concealing his embezzlement of funds from the Tulsa-based union. He also was ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $8,867. Couch had pleaded guilty in March after being indicted last September for stealing $12,825. The actions follow a probe by the Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards.
On July 15, Jacob Barkemeyer, former treasurer and chairman of Brotherhood of Railroad Signalmen Local Lodge 172, was sentenced in U.S. District Court for the District of New Mexico to two years of probation for making false entries in the records of the Los Lunas, N.M.-based union to conceal his thefts. He also was ordered to pay $8,608 in restitution, plus a $1,000 fine and a $25 assessment. Barkemeyer had pleaded guilty to an information count in January after being indicted for embezzlement last October. The actions follow an investigation by the U.S. Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards.