Monday, April 27, 2015

SEIU International Executive Board Member Embezzled $500K, Audit Finds

SEIU IEB Member Dana Cope
Here’s the latest on the corruption scandal that nabbed another member of SEIU’s International Executive Board (IEB).

In February, Tasty reported that Dana Cope, an SEIU IEB member and the Executive Director of SEIU’s State Employees Association of North Carolina (SEANC), stepped down after a North Carolina district attorney requested a criminal investigation into his alleged financial corruption.

At the time, SEANC swore that Cope was clean as a whistle… and that it had done “a thorough review and found no misappropriation of funds or improprieties by Cope,” according to the Raleigh News and Observer. SEIU even sent a crew of its top officials to the newspaper's offices and told them not to publish an article detailing evidence of Cope's corruption.

Days later, when Cope resigned his job, SEANC -- also known as "SEIU Local 2008" -- handed Cope a $148,000 severance package.

That's what happened two months ago.

Two weeks ago, investigators released the summary findings of an outside audit into Cope's spending practices. Auditors found that Cope’s corruption is far worse than was initially uncovered by the local newspaper. In fact, Cope “racked up nearly a half-million dollars in unjustified spending and credit card transactions” during just 28 months, according to the audit.

Auditors reportedly were unable to do a lengthier review of Cope’s spending because he shredded documents and removed a computer hard drive from the union’s office. 

According to the newly released audit, Cope…
  • spent $14,708 of SEANC’s funds to take his wife and sons on a trip to China.
  • used $31,345 to pay for his private flying lessons.
  • used SEANC credit cards for $404,948 in purchases that were undocumented or had no SEANC purpose.
  • falsified records to conceal his embezzlement of union members' money.

In addition, the newspaper obtained records that show Cope used a SEANC credit card last fall for purchases from “a luxury tour company, a North Hills art gallery, a Texas purveyor of upscale Western wear and a London clothier.”

Oh, and Cope also used union members’ money to pay for eye-brow waxing.

Referring to the union's members who work for state government, an observer said it's going to be tough for SEIU “to explain a $57 eyebrow wax at European Wax Center to a guy driving a dump truck at DOT.”  
SEIU's Dave Kieffer
The State Bureau of Investigation is conducting a criminal investigation into Cope and SEIU. “It is hard to imagine how some of these expenditures benefited state employees or fit into the mission of the organization,” said the local District Attorney.

It's important to note that Cope’s corruption scandal was first uncovered by a union member who criticized an SEIU money-making scheme engineered by Cope, whereby union members purchase computers and other consumer electronics by paycheck deduction at elevated prices.

In an earlier post, Tasty revealed an internal SEIU memo that reports that SEANC’s "primary function" is "selling insurance." The memo notes that SEANC’s staff consists of 14 insurance salespeople… and only 3 union representatives for its 55,000 members. So much for fighting for workers.

SEIU’s latest corruption scandals will be familiar territory for readers who followed the scandal involving other members of SEIU’s IEB, Tyrone Freeman and Rickman Jackson, along with a cover-up engineered by Steve Trossman, Dave Kieffer and other top SEIU officials, according to sworn testimony by a top SEIU staffer.
Andy Stern

After the Los Angeles Times revealed corruption scandals involving Freeman and Jackson, SEIU’s Andy Stern published a column in the Times announcing SEIU’s "bold" new initiative to stop corruption by its officials. In 2008, Stern wrote that SEIU would quickly become “organized labor's ethical gold standard.”

Here's some of what Stern wrote in the Los Angeles Times.
At the SEIU, we will not tolerate any actions that put the interests of our members at risk, and we will respond to credible allegations wherever they occur. Period. …We are calling on every SEIU local across the country to immediately adopt a standard code of ethics -- guidelines the International Union adopted several years ago -- that protects the interests of members… In addition, we have established a commission on ethics… When we come out on the other side of this, we want the SEIU to represent organized labor's ethical gold standard. At the SEIU, we are committed to leading a reform movement within labor. That means setting the highest standards of honesty and integrity.

SEIU's Steve Trossman
“Ethical goal standard”?

Why then have three members of SEIU's own International Executive Board -- its highest decision-making body -- gone down in massive corruption scandals in recent years?

And why are two top SEIU officials -- Dave Kieffer and Steve Trossman -- still earning six-figure paychecks from SEIU after waging a cover-up of Freeman’s multi-million dollar corruption scandal?

And why is Rickman Jackson, who stole more than $30,000 from SEIU's members, still on SEIU's payroll?

“Ethical goal standard”?