"The Times should reactivate the investigations that were underway in the months leading up the 2008 election and carefully examine how taxpayer funds were allocated between organizations that were precluded by law from participating in partisan policy activity."—TimesCheck.com Editor Kevin Mooney.
April 23rd, 2010, Fairfax, VA—Americans for Limited Government's TimesCheck.com today released an analysis on the lack of New York Times coverage of union disclosure requirements that are credited with exposing corruption at ACORN.
"ACORN's close financial and political ties to organized labor were exposed last year thanks in large part to disclosure requirements that were instituted under former Labor Secretary Elaine Chao," said TimesCheck.com Editor Kevin Mooney.
Unions with receipts of $250,000 or more are required to file annual financial disclosure reports under the Labor Management and Reporting Disclosure Act (LMRDA).
Chao advanced several modifications to the LM-2 and LM-30 forms that helped expose questionable transactions and potential conflicts of interest. Over 900 union officers were convicted on fraud, conspiracy and embezzlement charges during Chao's watch.
The LM-2 forms show that labor groups contributed over $10 million to the national ACORN organization, its state chapters and allied groups, which includes about $8 million just from The Service Employees International Union (SEIU) going back to 2005. In fact, these same government records show the hundreds of thousands of dollars continued to flow into ACORN's coffers, even as the videotape scandal broke in 2009.
"Unfortunately, the Obama Administration has signaled that it will now proceed to roll back disclosure requirements that have worked to the advantage of rank and file union members and concerned Americans. This action contradicts President Obama's campaign pledge of greater transparency and openness," said ALG President Bill Wilson.
Mooney criticized the Times for not reporting on Obama's broken campaign pledge. "Instead, the New York Times continues to do the bidding of White House officials who are scandalized by a Supreme Court decision that restored First Amendment freedoms."
In Citizens United v. FEC, a majority of justices ruled against campaign restrictions on both corporations and unions.
"The Gray Lady has responded with reports that are sympathetic toward the idea of imposing additional disclosure requirements on corporations that might dissuade them from becoming political active. But, at the same time, union disclosure requirements that have been of proven value are being relaxed, if not completely rescinded," Mooney explained.
"The message union bosses are transmitting to the American people through the New York Times is clear – disclosure for thee, but not for me," Mooney said. "Why isn't the New York Times reporting on administrative activity that runs counter to the kind of openness and transparency that Obama supposedly favors?"
Mooney cited what he said were "a few key facts that should be included in upcoming reports":
- In the 2008 election cycle, union political action committees (PACS) contributed over $66 million dollars to congressional candidates with 92 percent of those contributions going to Democrats, federal records show.
- Labor PACs also contributed $531,711 to Barack Obama that same year, the most of any U.S. senator. It is also worth noting that Labor Secretary Hilda Solis has received over $900,000 from organized labor for her congressional campaigns.
"It would not be unreasonable to suggest that some form of payback is in order," Wilson observed. "Labor unions that have supported ACORN in the past will find that they are now more unfettered and free to make contributions and donations to left wing activists who masquerade as community organizers."
ACORN, which stands for the Association of Community Organizers for Reform Now, announced that as of April 1 it was supposedly disbanding. But in reality the nationwide network is merely reconstituting itself under different names. State chapters are obtaining nonprofit status on their own as advocacy groups under section 501c4 of the tax code. This is significant because 501c4 status makes it possible for the new entities to conceal their financial activities.
"There is some history here where The New York Times is concerned. In the months leading up to the 2008 presidential election, former ACORN insider Anita MonCrief served as a confidential source to Stephanie Strom, a Times reporter," said Mooney. MonCrief wrote the following reports based on information furnished by MonCrief:
- 'Funds Misappropriated at Two Nonprofit Groups' July 9, 2008;
- 'Head of Foundation Bailed Out Nonprofit Group After Is Funds Were Embezzled' August 16, 2008;
- 'Lawsuit Add to Turmoil for Community Group' September 9, 2008;
- 'On Obama, ACORN and Voter Registration' October 10, 2008;
- 'ACORN Working on Deal to Sever Ties with Founder' October 15, 2008; and
- 'ACORN Report Raises Issues of Legality' October 21, 2008.
But the exposure of ACORN came to an abrupt halt when MonCrief provided hard proof of the close connection between the controversial, self-described community group and the Obama campaign, a Pennsylvania attorney investigating ACORN explained in testimony.
"The Times should reactivate the investigations that were underway in the months leading up the 2008 election and carefully examine how taxpayer funds were allocated between organizations that were precluded by law from participating in partisan policy activity. It should ask White House officials to explain its rationale for diluting disclosure requirements that helped expose potential criminal activity," Mooney concluded.