Monday, April 26, 2010

Andy Stern: Union Chief Fleeing Ahead of Illinois Indictment?

by Warner Todd Huston

Until recently, Andy Stern was the President of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), a union that has served as one of President Obama's biggest donors as well as filling the ranks of his ground troops. In a surprise move, Stern resigned his post this month and no one is really sure why at this point.

Andy Stern has been one of the closest union chiefs to a president in history. Along with SEIU treasurer Anna Burger, he was one of the most frequent visitors to the White House. He was even chosen by President Obama to serve on his Deficit Reduction Commission -- a sort of contradiction in terms that.

Upon his resignation, it has been learned that Andy Stern's leadership of the SEIU has not brought financial solvency. As F. Vincent Vernuccio reports in the Washington Times, Stern has left the SEIU in pretty shabby shape.
SEIU has seen its liabilities skyrocket during the past decade. The union's liabilities totaled $7,625,832 in 2000. By 2009, they had increased almost by a factor of 16, to $120,893,259. Meanwhile, SEIU's assets barely tripled, growing from $66,632,631 in 2000 to $187,664,763 in 2009. A significant portion of SEIU's current assets are from IOUs from hard-up locals.
Vernuccio also notes that the SEIU's pensions are in even worse shape being shockingly underfunded.

But is this failed financial situation why Andy Stern has suddenly left his position behind? Maybe, but one can't escape suspicion that Stern is leaving because of what is going on in Illinois.

For those unaware former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich is under federal indictment for trying to sell the Senate seat that Obama left when he won election to the White House.

The accidental release of an un-redacted motion filed by Blagojevich's legal team has the following nugget of interest:
Blagojevich’s defense team basically alleges that Obama told a certain labor union official that he (Obama) would support Valerie Jarrett’s candidacy for the Senate seat. Jarrett, referred to as “Senate Candidate B”, is now a senior advisor to the president.
And who might that "certain labor union official" be? It's been widely thought that this unnamed "union official" is none other than Andy Stern, then president of the SEIU and close confidant of President Obama.

It is natural to put two and two together and come up with the thought that Andy Stern is about to become a major problem for the SEIU, President Obama, and ex-Governor Blagojevich all at once if he is indicted or even subpoenaed to become a part of this Blago mess.

If Stern is put under oath and his testimony follows the allegations that he was the President's errand boy in order to arrange the sale of a Senate seat a firestorm could be headed our way.

One cannot help but wonder if Stern has left his position with the union in order to protect the union?

See the relevant section of the un-redacted motion below:
2. Obama may have overtly recommended Valerie Jarret for his Senate seat

Blagojevich’s defense team basically alleges that Obama told a certain labor union official that he (Obama) would support Valerie Jarrett’s candidacy for the Senate seat. Jarrett, referred to as “Senate Candidate B”, is now a senior advisor to the president.

Redacted portion: Yet, despite President Obama stating that no representatives of his had any part of any deals, labor union president told the FBI and the United States Attorneys that he spoke to labor union official on November 3, 2008 who received a phone message from Obama that evening. After labor union official listened to the message labor union official told labor union president “I’m the one”. Labor union president took that to mean that labor union official was to be the one to deliver the message on behalf of Obama that Senate Candidate B was his pick. (Labor union president 302, February 2, 2009, p. 7).

Labor union official told the FBI and the United States Attorneys “Obama expressed his belief that [Senate Candidate B] would be a good Senator for the people of Illinois and would be a candidate who could win re-election. [Labor union official] advised Obama that [labor union official] would reach out to Governor Blagojevich and advocate for [Senate Candidate B].. . . [Labor union official] called [labor union president] and told [labor union president] that Obama was aware that [labor union official] would be reaching out to Blagojevich.” (Labor union official 302, February 3, 2009 p. 3).
Cross-posted at Publius' ForumWarner Todd Huston is a Chicago based freelance writer, has been writing opinion editorials and social criticism since early 2001 and is featured on many websites such as Andrew Breitbart’s BigGovernment.com, RightWingNews.com, CanadaFreePress.com, StoptheACLU.com, TheRealityCheck.org, RedState.com, Human Events Magazine, AmericanDailyReview.com, and the New Media Journal, among many, many others. We are proud to have him as contributor to Chicago News Bench. Read more about him here...

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