Sept. 9 (Bloomberg) -- Shawn Clark, a New Jersey carpenters’ union officer, used his local’s credit card to run up $50,000 in bills over seven years at Double D’s, a Morristown strip club, according to an indictment. Now he’s in prison for 28 months.
Clark, 46, is among an increasing number of U.S. union officials and members accused of stealing from organized labor to feed gambling habits, buy jewelry and show horses or pay personal bills, a review of U.S. Labor Department reports by Bloomberg Government found. Convictions of union leaders and staff on embezzlement and related criminal charges in fiscal 2010 were the most since 2006, the review showed.
The department’s investigations led to convictions of 130 union members and staff in the year that ended Sept. 30, up from 121 in 2009 and the highest since 133 in 2006, according to agency data on federal and state prosecutions. The government won cases against 1,608 union members from fiscal 1998 through last year, an annual average of 123. [...]
The average for the 128 cases reviewed by Bloomberg Government was about $53,000.
Union funds were spent at casinos and strip clubs, used to buy home-entertainment systems or laptop computers and pay personal bills, prosecutors said in federal court records. Convictions for embezzlement and related criminal violations led to about $105 million in restitution in the past 10 years, the Labor Department reported last year.
Since fiscal 2007, union officials and staff have been ordered to pay about $30 million for financial crimes. “We’re talking about lots and lots of money they can play hanky-panky with” from union dues, Representative Phil Roe, a Tennessee Republican and chairman of a House Education and the Workforce Committee panel on health, employment, labor and pensions, said in an interview. “More oversight needs to be done, absolutely. Without oversight, the temptation to misuse funds is there.” Legislation may be needed to strengthen financial reporting requirements for unions, Roe said, without providing specifics.As usual, politicians will always draw the wrong conclusions from simple facts.
Power leads to corruption. That's built into the human nature. Adding oversight will only add more corruption — or, let's see it in a positive way: transfer part of the corruption from the unions to the oversight group.
Only private companies fight internal corruption because they don't have votes to buy. Well, they do buy government officials, but that's a whole another story.