SCOTT MOONEYHAM: Teamsters' Aid to Black Boneheaded
If I were a North Carolina member of the Teamsters, I'd be as mad as -- well, a striking worker who saw a replacement taking a seat in the cab of my truck.
But you'll probably see no picket signs protesting the $5,000 that the union's political action committee just dumped into House Speaker Jim Black's legal defense fund.
The Charlotte Observer reports that the donation was listed in a 222-page filing with the Federal Election Commission.
The piece, written by reporter David Ingram, noted that Black friend and fund organizer Addison Bell has decided to accept donations from political action committees despite earlier statements that he wouldn't. Bell claimed that he was incorrectly quoted by three separate newspapers in March regarding the matter.
Guess all three were taking their "liberal media conspiracy" pills that week.
Wait a minute. Black is a Democrat. Perhaps they were engaged in a conservative media conspiracy.
At any rate, the revelation indicates that groups interested in influencing public policy in North Carolina, rather than simply individuals who want to help a friend pay legal bills, are contributing to Black's fund.
Because the state has no disclosure requirements for such funds, learning of any other donations is impossible. So far, Black and Bell haven't agreed to disclose the other donors.
But what would the Team-sters want out of the people who make state law? -- Pro-bably what interests all unions: an end to North Carolina's ban on collective bargaining for public employees.
Even without collective bargaining, the Teamsters already are signing up school bus drivers and other transportation-related government workers in North Carolina.
Their activity coincides with some political maneuvering by another large, powerful union, the Service Employees International Union. SEIU contributed $100,000 to House Democrats earlier this year. It's also rumored to be doling out individual legislative contributions in the weeks leading up to the November election.
But Teamsters members shouldn't be happy to see their PAC money poured into Black's legal defense fund.
They have a right to be upset about seeing their hard-earned money pay the legal bills of someone caught up in a sordid political scandal that is at least partly of his own making.
But forget the ethical considerations for a moment.
There's another reason to conjure up the ghost of Jimmy Hoffa to assail whoever made this boneheaded decision: You've just thrown away your money in a stupid game of three-card Monte.
Gaining influence with and access to Black is about as profitable these days as investing in Enron or Tyco.
Black's chances of serving another term as speaker are somewhere between lightning strike and nil. His ability to help anyone steer public policy is crippled.
Any successful effort to improve organized labor's position with state policymakers will be a long-term endeavor. Black is no longer a long-termer.
Scott Mooneyham writes for Capitol Press Association. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org
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