Jewish World Review Jan. 10, 2003 / 7 Shevat, 5763

Michelle Malkin

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Consumer Reports

Plundering 'for the children' | When corporate moguls get nabbed for ripping off shareholders, the media go ape-wild. Last year's front-page headlines were filled with Big Business scandals and barrels of op-ed indignation about capitalist greed. But when teachers' union officials plunder their members' coffers in Enronic proportions, the media go . . . AWOL.

I recently read a nauseating FBI affidavit filed last month in support of search and seizure warrants for three teachers' union officials in Washington, D.C. The accused villains under federal investigation are former Washington Teachers Union President Barbara Bullock, her aide, Gwen Hemphill, and her treasurer, James Baxter. All three are prominent cronies of D.C. Mayor Anthony Williams and key players in the local Democratic machine.

The union extracts nearly $700 a month per teacher from its 5,500-member group. The Trump-spending trio and several others are suspected of embezzling more than $2 million in member dues dating back to 1995. Here is just one excerpt of the FBI affidavit detailing Bullock's selfless expenditures:

"Among (her) purchases were: a $20,000 mink coat, along with other mink coats that . . . have been stored at Miller Furs in Chevy Chase, Maryland; nearly $500,000 in custom-made clothing from a Baltimore clothing maker known as Van Style . . . more than $9,000 at retailer Bloomingdales; more than $9,000 for clothing and accessories from a Florida vendor known as Body Scentre Limited; more than $11,000 in purchases from a retailer known as Friedman's Shoes in Atlanta, Georgia; more than $5,000 to Galt Brothers Jewelry in Washington, D.C.; more than $5,000 to Graffiti AudioVideo for electronic equipment; more than $12,000 at retailer Hecht Company; more than $3,000 at the Hermes Boutique in Vienna, Virginia . . . "

Wait, there's more:

"(M)ore than $5,000 for bedding and a desk pad from the Horchow Collection; more than $6,000 to vendor J. Crew; more than $15,000 . . . for St. John Knit apparel; more than $4,000 for merchandise from Little Switzerland JNU, in Juneau, Alaska; more than $60,000 to MS Rau Antiques in New Orleans, Louisiana (including $57,000 for a 288-piece Tiffany sterling silver set); more than $17,000 to Miller Furs; more than $150,000 at retailer Neiman-Marcus; more than $50,000 at retailer Nordstrom; more than $4,000 at beauty salon Oriental Oasis; more than $25,000 for services of the Parkway Custom Dry Cleaners in Chevy Chase, Maryland; more than $9,000 to Ramee Art Gallery in Washington, D.C.; more than $40,000 at retailer Saks Fifth Avenue; more than $50,000 at a vendor known as Snazzy Limited in Orange Park, Florida; more than $4,000 at the St. John Boutique in Beverly Hills, California, and New York, New York; more than $2,500 for china or crystal from The Lenox Shop in Williamsburg, Virginia, and Prince William, Virginia; more than $6,000 in gourmet kitchen equipment from retailer Williams-Sonoma; almost $4,000 to jeweler Tiffany & Co.; more than $20,000 to the Atlanta gallery of the artist William Tolliver; and more than $7,000 to Wagner Opticians."

Bullock spread the wealth to friends and family. According to the FBI agent, her sister received "a two-door, French, hand-painted armoire" from an Alexandria, Va., antiques dealer, Tradition de France. Bullock's driver and errand boy, Leroy Holmes, received checks "totaling in excess of $1,000,000, which he converted to cash to pay himself more than $90,000 per year, plus additional funds to maintain and pay for personal vehicles, and provide cash to others."

Bullock's aide, Hemphill, also shared her booty with family, including $20,000 in African art; a $12,999 50" plasma, flat-screen television; and a $950 handbag from Neiman-Marcus. Union Treasurer Baxter is suspected of rampant book-cooking to hide his union income from the IRS. The trio also "enlisted the aid of an accountant to help them hide the misconduct," according to investigators.

Also under scrutiny: Interim Union President Esther S. Hankerson, who has held leadership positions since 1994 and whose credit-card use is reportedly being probed.

Meanwhile, the union's rent, phone bills and health premiums for retired teachers went unpaid.

This is a sickening and all-too-familiar case of education corruption involving the looting of compulsory union dues. Rank-and-file teachers have fought across the country for the right to stop union tyrants from siphoning money from their paychecks for political lobbying and personal aggrandizement. Big Labor's accounting system is a sham. But you won't read about this scandal on the editorial pages of The New York Times.

After all, the looters did it "for the children," right?

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JWR contributor Michelle Malkin is the author of, most recently, "Invasion: How America Still Welcomes Terrorists Criminals & Other Foreign Menaces to Our Shores". To comment, please click here.

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