Labor department fails to release union corruption tracking report

Matthew Boyle Investigative Reporter
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The Office of Labor Management Statistics (OLMS) was supposed to release an annual report tracking labor unions and evidence of corruption in union leadership in January 2010 but still hasn’t released the document.

OLMS, which falls under the Department of Labor, has released no such tracking report since George W. Bush’s administration, something that has the conservative nonprofit organization Americans for Limited Government (ALG) up in arms. ALG filed a Freedom of Information Act request for the 2009 report, and OLMS denied the group’s request by saying it needed more time to complete the report. Originally, however, those reports were publicly available on the OLMS website.

The report would tabulate the number of cases nationwide of union leader prosecution, the amount of funds they embezzle and the misuse of union funds. It also would keep track of indictments. Those statistics do exist elsewhere, as criminal and most civil court proceedings become public record after the cases close, but they’re difficult to track down as they’re in courthouses all over the country. The OLMS annual reports kept track of that information, allowing people to access it easily.

ALG’s current head of research, Don Todd, who led OLMS during the Bush administration, told The Daily Caller he doubts it would be too difficult for the Obama administration to release that information, as they’re supposed to keep track of it all year long. He also said that this administration’s failure to release the report is “freakishly incompetent.” He suspects politics is to blame.

“It’s got to be a political decision,” Todd said in a phone interview. “You know, I ran the agency during the Bush administration, and it’s the career people that put the thing together. So, the fact that it’s not out is a political decision.”

Todd said he thinks the decision to withhold that information comes from the Secretary of Labor’s office, though, not President Barack Obama.

“I wouldn’t think it would reach anywhere near that high of a level,” Todd said, referring to why he doesn’t think Obama is calling these shots. “But, the Labor Department is pretty much owned by the union movement now. A lot of the people who work there are from the movement.”

Also, Todd said that, without the report, he can’t say what’s in it, but that hiding it begs the question of what the Obama administration is keeping under wraps.

Todd said what caught his attention in the OLMS response to ALG’s Freedom of Information Act request was that the agency didn’t say it wasn’t going to do annual reports anymore. Instead, he said they wrote back saying they were still working on it.

Todd isn’t sure whether the reasoning behind delaying the report’s release has anything to do with any evidence in it that suggests lack of oversight or corruption, but he does point out that his successor, John Lund, the current director of OLMS, was a top-level official in the AFL-CIO before he came to work for the Obama administration.

Todd said he knew the labor unions hated the information released in those reports, too.

“We listed the major cases,” Todd told TheDC. “Unions hate that kind of publicity. I kind of got the impression that the unions would rather suffer from the embezzlement than from the negative publicity of people stealing from them.”

OLMS spokesman Jesse Lawder told TheDC the report will be released soon, but did not know when. Lawder also said he did not why it has taken so long for the report to come out.