Until Mel Watt Resigns, There’s a Cloud Over FHFA

While the Senate has been poring over the youthful misadventures of Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, several House lawmakers, with far less fanfare, have been focusing on a more plausible charge of misconduct involving an ex-colleague, Mel Watt. On September 26, Watt, a former 11-term North Carolina congressman who since January 2014 has headed the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA), was grilled at a hearing of the House Financial Services Committee concerning allegations about his sexual harassment of a female FHFA employee. “She deserves to be heard and she needs to be heard,” said Chairman Jeb Hensarling, R-Tex. Watt denies all wrongdoing, but evidence might not be on his side.

Melvin Luther “Mel” Watt, now 73, a trained lawyer and a native of Charlotte, first was elected to Congress in 1992, a beneficiary of gerrymandering to ensure black representation. During his tenure, he specialized in banking, housing and economic development … Read More ➡

New York Governor Cuomo Protects Forced Public-Employee Unionism

(Sipa via AP Images)

The Supreme Court’s 5-4 decision in Janus v. AFSCME was a stunning blow to over 40 years of public-sector union monopoly power. Union leaders for their part are pushing back. They have plenty of allies in state governments, and perhaps no state is as vociferous as New York. Indeed, on June 27, the day of the ruling, Governor Andrew Cuomo signed an executive order to protect union members from outside intimidation – ironic, given the pressure unions often use to collect dues. The State of New York also has begun deducting dues from the pay of government workers without even checking to see if they are members. And now a prominent lawmaker wants taxpayers to reimburse unions for foregone dues.

State and local officials across the country, especially in non-Right to Work states, are helping to lead a popular resistance to Trump administration policies and court … Read More ➡

HHS, Nonprofit Group Combat Union Medicaid Dues-Skimming Schemes

Few things say “money in the bank” to a public-sector union quite like Medicaid. A proposed federal rule would end this freebie. On July 12, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) posted a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking to bar states from using Medicaid funds as a source of dues for unions representing home health care providers. Workers still would have the right to join a union. But non-joiners no longer would be captive of a state agency deducting dues and forwarding them to a union. Over a dozen states now engage in this practice. For organized labor, this arrangement generates around $200 million a year. That’s why unions and the states are resisting the proposed rule in the aftermath of the Supreme Court’s Janus ruling in June. A recent development in Washington State has strengthened the hand of reluctant dues payers while the department finalizes its rule.… Read More ➡

California to Impose Gender Quotas on Businesses?

Mandatory “gender equity” on corporate boards may seem a far-fetched idea, but in one state it soon may become law. Several weeks ago, the California legislature passed a bill, SB 826, that would require every public company headquartered in the state to have at least one woman on its board of directors by the end of 2019. Larger companies also would have to place at least two women on their boards by the end of 2021. There would be stiff fines for noncompliance. The bill awaits the signature of Gov. Jerry Brown (in photo). It’s yet another example of how affirmative action is driven by political shaming, not by sensible economics or constitutional law.

Feminists long have set their sights on breaking the “glass ceiling,” that metaphorical barrier established by male employers to discourage women from advancing to top positions. As a corrective, these activists increasingly are calling for requiring … Read More ➡

New York Independent Union Boss Pleads Guilty to $1M+ Ripoff

At one time Rocco Fazzolari had bit parts in low-budget New York City crime movies. Little did people know that for a long time he starred in his own real-life version. Yesterday, on September 26, Fazzolari, former president of United Industrial and Service Employees Union Local 122, pleaded guilty in Manhattan federal court to three counts of embezzlement related to his theft of a combined more than $1.3 million in funds from the East Meadow (Long Island), N.Y.-based union and a related benefit plan. Under the terms of the plea agreement, he will forfeit $941,828, pay additional restitution, and refrain from engaging in union-related activity for 13 years. The plea follows a joint investigation by the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards, Office of Inspector General and Employee Benefits Security Administration.

United Industrial and Service Employees Local 122 is a modest-sized independent union. According to tax filings for the … Read More ➡

Will Nike’s Colin Kaepernick Campaign Backfire?

Buying a pair of athletic shoes shouldn’t be a political act. But Nike, the world’s largest maker of athletic shoes, thinks otherwise. And it might lose customers as a result. On Thursday evening, September 6, the company aired its widely anticipated two-minute “Just Do It”-themed ad on NBC-TV during the 2018 NFL season opener narrated by Colin Kaepernick, the former San Francisco 49ers quarterback who two years ago started the ritual “kneel-down” national anthem protests. He remains a factually-challenged moral exhibitionist who has built a cult upon the false claim that local police forces across the nation are murdering innocent blacks. The campaign might boost Nike sales in the short run, but market surveys suggest that it might not end well.

For a man whose name is radioactive around the National Football League, Colin Kaepernick’s career shift is paying off. During the 2016 exhibition season, he chose to kneel rather … Read More ➡

Postal Workers President in South Carolina Charged with Embezzlement

On September 12, Dana Roush, former president of American Postal Workers Union Local 403, was charged in U.S. District Court for the District of South Carolina with one count of embezzlement in the amount of $10,089 from the Spartanburg union. The charge follows an investigation by the Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards.… Read More ➡

Teamster President, Secretary in Southern Illinois Sentenced

Sometimes a marriage can be a partnership in crime. That was the case of Scott and Nancy Alexander. On August 24, the husband and wife, respectively, ex-president and ex-office administrator for International Brotherhood of Teamsters Local 50, received identical sentences in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Illinois of six months in prison and six months of home confinement, to be followed by three years of probation, for embezzlement and fraud against the Belleville, Ill.-based (near St. Louis) union. They also were ordered to pay $44,576.04 in restitution and a $200 special assessment. The couple had pleaded guilty in May after being indicted in June 2017. The actions follow an investigation by the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards and Office of Labor Racketeering.

According to prosecutors, Scott and Nancy Alexander, Belleville residents ages 56 and 52, during January 2012-June 2016 engaged in a wide range … Read More ➡

Ex-Chrysler Executive Sentenced in UAW Training Fund Scandal

As a key figure in the Chrysler-United Auto Workers training fund scandal, Al Iacobelli expected a stiff sentence. And that’s what he got. On August 27, Iacobelli, former vice president of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, was sentenced in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan to 66 months in prison and 24 months of supervised release for attempting to bribe certain UAW officers with more than $1.5 million in cash and other things of value in 2015 in hopes of persuading them to drop contract demands, and for embezzling funds for his own use. Iacobelli was ordered to pay $853,522 in restitution, a $10,000 fine and a $100 assessment. He had pleaded guilty in January after being indicted last July. The actions follow an investigation by the FBI, the IRS and the Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards and Office of Inspector General.

Alfons “Al” Iacobelli, now 58, a … Read More ➡

Whistleblower Accuses St. Louis-Kansas City Carpenters Council of Corruption

The United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners long has had corruption problems. The union’s St. Louis-Kansas City Regional Council might well qualify as its corruption leader. Two years ago, Jonathan Gould, a union member and former compliance officer for the council, filed a civil racketeering suit in Missouri state court accusing council officials of “embezzling money from members to inflate their own pensions and cash in on travel perks for spouses,” plus acts of sexual harassment, assault, drunk driving, and drug abuse. The council, which consists of 34 unions in Kansas, Missouri and Illinois representing about 22,000 members, has responded with a blitz of counterclaims. Matters have yet to be settled.

The roots of this legal tug of war go back several years. Jonathan Gould, a floor tile layer from Edwardsville, Ill. who still describes himself as a “strong union man,” during the summer of 2014 had accepted the nomination … Read More ➡