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April 27, 2009
Transparency in union finances a thing of the past
Union efforts on card check may have come a cropper, wasting all their million spent to try to make it the law of the land, but Team Obama seems intent on giving them a consolation prize.
Ignoring their own rhetoric about the value of transparency and openness, the Obama administration is "rolling back rules requiring labor unions and their leaders to report information about their finances and compensation," according to this Washington Times report written by Jim McElhatton:
The Labor Department noted in a recent disclosure that "it would not be a good use of resources" to bring enforcement actions against union officials who do not comply with conflict of interest reporting rules passed in 2007. Instead, union officials will now be allowed to file older, less detailed conflict reports.
The regulation, known as the LM-30 rule, was at the heart of a lawsuit that the AFL-CIO filed against the department last year. One of the union attorneys in the case, Deborah Greenfield, is now a high-ranking deputy at Labor, who also worked on the Obama transition team on labor issues.
Labor officials declined to say whether she played a role in the new policy, noting that Ms. Greenfield is abiding by all government ethics rules. In court filings, she and other union attorneys called the 2007 rules "onerous."
The Labor Department also is rescinding another key labor financial disclosure regulation. The expansion of the so-called LM-2 rule, approved during the last days of the Bush administration, requires unions to report more information about finances and labor leaders' compensation on annual reports.
Critics worry that the rollback of union reporting requirements will keep hidden potentially corrupt financial arrangements aimed at rooting out corruption, but unions say the Bush administration reporting rules were unfair and burdensome.
Too burdensome? How burdensome is a few clicks on a computer keyboard to generate the reports?
Seems like the unions investment in President Obama and a Democratic Congress has begun to pay off for them - at the expense of rules and regulations meant to ensure honesty and transparency.