Press Release from National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation
Washington, DC (April 5, 2010) – The Federal Election Commission (FEC) has dismissed a complaint filed by the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation and a Nashua-area postal worker who discovered his annual union membership dues were illegally diverted into the union’s political action committee (PAC).
In July 2006, United States Postal Service employee Philip Wakeman paid $429 in membership dues to join the National Postal Mail Handlers Union (NPMHU), a division of the Laborers’ International Union. On the “Memo” line at the bottom of the check, he wrote “Union Dues.” A union official later acknowledged receipt of the union dues.
In October 2008, over two years after submitting the check to the NPMHU union, a stranger called Wakeman on an unrelated matter and informed him that she found his information on the Internet. The stranger then suggested that he do a “Google” Internet search of his name. After doing so, Mr. Wakeman was astounded to find his name disclosed as making a contribution to the NPMHU PAC in the exact amount of his annual NPMHU union membership dues – all without his knowledge.
It is illegal for union officials to fund union PACs using “dues, fees, or other moneys required as a condition of membership in a labor organization.” NPMHU union bosses were also accused of violating federal election law by making a political campaign contribution in another person’s name and soliciting political contributions under false pretenses while failing to inform Mr. Wakeman that his membership dues would be used for political purposes.
Apparently NPMHU union bosses had illegally diverted his dues payment to the union’s PAC, but then redirected the portion of funds not intended for union political activities back to membership expenses after the 2006 midterm elections, blaming it on a “technical error” and prompting the FEC to dismiss the charges.
“Unfortunately, the FEC failed to investigate whether this instance of political money laundering was part of a larger scheme afoot,” said Patrick Semmens, Legal Information Director of the National Right to Work Foundation. “Even if the union officials’ dubious claims that it was a mistake are to be believed, in effect Mr. Wakeman was forced to give an interest-free loan to the union to use his dues for politics.”
“We will work to ensure that the FEC’s lack of action in this case does not embolden union bosses to concoct similar schemes to funnel union dues for politics as long as they ‘fix’ it later,” Semmens said.