Secretary Elaine Chao

 
 
 

Transparency Hypocrisy

“Transparency” is a key watchword among those seeking to unearth and fight corruption among politicians, lobbyists and businessmen. Laws, regulations, disclosure and reporting requirements are all often based on the need for greater “transparency” in government and business, because it is widely and correctly believed that the more one knows about what one’s elected officials and those they do business with are up to, the better off we’ll all be.

One would think, given this almost religious belief in transparency, that reformers would be building statues honoring Labor Secretary Elaine Chao. She has fought to apply the same transparency standards to organized labor that the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and other regulators have imposed on business interests with astounding results. But now Democrats in the new Congress, responding to pressure from union officials who are for the first time actually being required to comply with reporting requirements they have ignored for decades, have decided that what’s good for others isn’t so good for their political benefactors.

Department of Labor officials say that 93 percent of the nation’s unions comply with all reporting requirements and, when audited, come up clean. The problems in the other 7 percent, however, are serious. In recent years, the Department’s reporting requirements and the information they contain have resulted, directly or indirectly, in more than 750 convictions of union officials for everything from perjury to cooking the books, stuffing ballot boxes and outright theft. Since 2001, in fact, the courts have also ordered corrupt officials to return some $70 million in stolen funds to union treasuries and pension plans.

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