The Service Employees International Union settled on paying close to a $200,000 fine for illegally funneling millions in contributions into a 2012 Michigan ballot campaign over collective bargaining for home health workers.
Michigan Secretary of State Ruth Johnson charged the SEIU with a whopping $199,00o fine for committing several campaign finance violations in laundering $9.36 million in campaign contributions through a nonprofit corporation to support the passage of state Proposal 4 in 2012. The ballot proposal would have required Michigan health care workers to unionize, but was defeated.
The SEIU supported the ballot campaign Citizens for Affordable Quality Home Care, which received almost all its funding from nonprofit Home Care First, Inc., which the SEIU duly bankrolled. Over 99 percent of the nonprofit organization’s funding came from SEIU coffers, the Detroit Free Press reports.
Incidentally, Dohn Hoyle served as the director for both the campaign and the nonprofit funding source. Though it turned out that the SEIU supplied virtually all of Home Care First’s donations, Hoyle had claimed before the election that “many groups” were contributing to his corporation.
But in a stark campaign finance violation, Home Care First, Inc. didn’t report the SEIU’s contributions until after the proposal had been voted on after the November 2012 elections, the Michigan Bureau of Elections discovered.
An initial complaint was filed to the state Bureau by the Michigan Freedom Fund, which accused the SEIU of using “dirty tricks” with the nonprofit to hide the SEIU’s contributions to the campaign from the public, local media reported at the time.
“Michigan law requires all organizations, including 501(c)4 nonprofit corporations, to file complete campaign finance reports when spending directly in support of a ballot question,” Johnson said Monday in a statement. “These organizations cannot be used as a means to conceal the identity of the true contributors.”
After the settlement was announced, the SEIU continued to brush aside the multiple violations as a pure accident.
“Filing and reporting errors were inadvertently made in SEIU’s efforts to provide support for the Proposal 4 campaign to secure quality affordable home care for Michigan families. We have decided not to dispute the preliminary finding of the Secretary of State and SEIU Michigan consider this matter closed,” officials said in a statement.
The state’s slap against the SEIU’s improper 501(c)4 activities comes amid national turmoil over the rights of such nonprofit organizations. The IRS has proposed regulations to significantly tamp down on 501(c)4 organizations by cutting down on the ability of these nonprofits to fund campaign-related ads at all.
Both conservatives and liberals alike have hit back hard against the ads. The Washington Post warns that “the opposition is so intense that many believe the proposed regulations are in serious jeopardy.”
Conservative groups believe the changes are meant to relieve Democrats from criticism during the midterm elections, as conservative 501(c)4 groups are delivering hard-hitting ads against Obama administration policies.
SEI has supported President Obama with endorsements, events and millions in advertising.
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