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Unions have been reliable cash streams for campaigning Democrats for a while now. I would like to believe the corruption found in the Professional Firefighters Association of Wisconsin were limited to that organization. But judging on my perception of the character of Mary Bell and Marty Biel (and the assembled chronies we saw during the Madison protests) I think it's anything but.
Federal election regulators have officially doused an elaborate and long-running campaign laundering scheme by former leaders of the Wisconsin firefighters union.
In a deal recently made public, the Federal Election Commission finedthe Professional Fire Fighters of Wisconsin and 11 of its former board members a total of $58,000 and banned them from running for leadership posts in the union for varying lengths of time for "knowingly and willfully" violating campaign laws and regulations.
In a 2002 leadership retreat, the Executive Board members agreed that they should be making the $500 political donation instead of paying the $325 registration fee. But several members expressed concern about the amount of the contribution.
That's when the board hatched the scheme to create fictitious legislative meetings in Madison for which the executive board members could seek expense reimbursement equal to the donations they were making to the national union.
With West Allis firefighter Rick Gale as president, board members received nearly $17,000 in reimbursements for bogus mileage and per diems to attend nonexistent meetings, with the amounts ranging from $354 to nearly $2,500 per person.
It's just good, old fashioned money laundering. What's discouraging is that this exposure of corruption will not wake up the rank and file to how the leadership does not represent the best interest of the aforementioned workforce.