Monday, January 28, 2013

Sources: SEIU's Dave Kieffer Is Axed -- Played Role in Tyrone Freeman Corruption Scandal

SEIU's Dave Kieffer

A top SEIU official who was involved in SEIU's cover-up of the Tyrone Freeman corruption scandal has been ousted from his job, according to two sources.

The official, David Kieffer, was removed from his position as the Executive Director of the SEIU California State Council, a lobbying group that spends tens of millions of dollars of SEIU members' money on political efforts.

The removal of Kieffer comes as a jury in a federal courtroom deliberates on whether to convict Freeman on more than a dozen felony counts, including embezzlement and theft of union assets. SEIU hasn't offered an explanation for Kieffer's removal. One source says it's a result of turf battles between SEIU-UHW's Dave Regan and other SEIU officials in the Golden State. They say Kieffer's firing will be publicly described as a "resignation."

How is Kieffer linked to the Freeman scandal?

Back in 2001, Kieffer was a high-level official inside SEIU's Washington, DC headquarters when a second SEIU official -- Jim Philliou -- discovered widespread corruption by Freeman. At the time, Philliou was responsible for reviewing and co-signing checks written by Freeman. That's how Phillou discovered that Freeman was funneling large amounts of money to his relatives through fake contracts.

Philliou then informed top SEIU officials such as Eliseo Medina, Tom Woodruff... and Dave Kieffer, according to Phillou's sworn testimony. Here's an excerpt from Philliou's testimony. (Here are 14 pages from Philliou’s testimony.)

Attorney:  Did you have conversations with anybody else who was working with SEIU International staff about those concerns?
Philliou:  David Kieffer, K-i-e-f-f-e-r.

Attorney:  When we talked earlier about your having given information to Sheila Velasco in 2001 -- April, May of 2001 concerning your discomfort about continuing to sign or cosign checks on the 6434 account, you also said that you spoke with Dave Kieffer.  In what month did you speak with Dave Kieffer?
Philliou:  I recall to be in the summer.
Attorney:  Summer 2001?
Philliou:  Correct.

And that’s not all. Kieffer was apparently involved in the cover-up that SEIU officials launched in 2001 to hide Freeman's embezzlement from SEIU's members and the public. According to Philliou, Kieffer spread reports about a so-called SEIU "audit" that concluded that Freeman was somehow "clean." Of course, we know that's impossible -- the precise acts of embezzlement that Philliou discovered in 2001 are the ones at the center of SEIU's corruption scandal. Here's more of Philliou's testimony about Kieffer and the cover-up:

Attorney:  Do you know whether that audit took place?
Philliou:  I don't know firsthand.
Attorney:  You don't know?
Philliou:  I don't have any firsthand knowledge.
Attorney:  Did anybody tell you the audit had been conducted?
Philliou:  David Kieffer.
Attorney:  And what, if anything, did Dave Kieffer say to you in response to your concerns when you first approached him about what was going on at 6434?
Philliou:  He told me later that there had been some type of audit and the expenditures were, quote, "questionable but legal," end quote.
SEIU's Rickman Jackson

As Tasty noted earlier, it’s unclear whether Kieffer was offed because of his links to the Freeman scandal. However, the timing of Kieffer’s firing raises interesting questions. If Freeman is convicted, will SEIU feel more responsibility to launch a full-scale investigation into all of the SEIU officials who aided and abetted Freeman for so many years?

For example, Freeman’s Chief of Staff -- Rickman Jackson -- was neck-deep in the corruption and even admitted to stealing more than $30,000 from SEIU’s members. Nonetheless, SEIU President Mary Kay Henry gave him a fatcat position inside the Purple Palace where he earns a six-figure salary. He's still on SEIU's payroll today.

And SEIU’s Steve Trossman reportedly played a pivotal role in SEIU’s cover-up operation by waging an effort to suppress any word of the scandal from leaking out to the public and law-enforcement authorities. At the time, Trossman served as the Director of Communications in SEIU's DC headquarters. In 2009, SEIU paid Trossman $120,000 in suspected “hush money” apparently disguised as “consulting fees” in federal records.

SEIU's Steve Trossman
Will SEIU attempt to actually clean its corruption-stained house? Or are SEIU’s top officials -- including SEIU’s President Mary Kay Henry, President Emeritus Andy Stern and Secretary-Treasurer Eliseo Medina -- so deeply involved in the corruption scandal that an investigation would jeopardize their jobs?