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03.31.2009 0

Was Solis a Straw Officer at ARW?

  • On: 04/29/2009 10:19:36
  • In: Big Labor
  • By Robert Romano

    As the “Employee No Choice Act”—legislation that would replace the workplace secret ballots with union tyranny—comes to the forefront of the Congressional agenda, new questions are emerging about Hilda Solis, Barack Obama’s Labor Secretary. Specifically, what role did she played at the organized labor front group, American Rights at Work.

    Ms. Solis is the Administration’s public salesperson for the “card-check” legislation. But as the American people consider whether they really want to “expedite” the process of forced unionization, perhaps they should also question just for how long—and for whom—Ms. Solis has been pushing for this particular bill’s passage.

    On April 24th, the Hill reported that “Sen. Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.), ranking member of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, had [Labor Secretary Hilda] Solis, a former California House Democrat, sign an affidavit saying she did not authorize funds to lobby lawmakers at the labor advocacy group [ARW] before moving her nomination forward after weeks of stalling earlier this year.”

    This is rather unusual, to say the least. Any expenditures by the group should have been authorized by her. After all, Ms. Solis served as Treasurer of the 501(c)(4) organization, Americans Rights at Work, while the organization was actively engaged in lobbying members of Congress, most recently to vote in favor of the “card-check” bill.

    In that vein, and in the public interest, Americans for Limited Government President Bill Wilson yesterday sent a letter to Ms. Solis respectfully requesting the affidavit she signed. It is hoped that it will shed light on numerous new questions raised by her sworn statement:

    1. If Ms. Solis, as the Treasurer of ARW, did not authorize expenditures for lobbying, who did?
    2. Was Ms. Solis a straw officer, or a figurehead at ARW?
    3. If not managing the finances of ARW, a lobbying organization, what exactly did Ms. Solis—who at the time was a member of Congress co-sponsoring the “card-check” legislation—do at ARW in her capacity as Treasurer?

    This is not the first time this controversy has arisen.

    ALG’s letter yesterday to Secretary Solis followed a letter Wilson had sent to the House Ethics Committee in February during her confirmation process that raised questions as to whether Ms. Solis violated House Ethics Rules as a House member over the same controversy. That letter reminded members that Ms. Solis had failed to properly disclose this information on financial disclosure forms from 2004 to 2007 to the Clerk of the House of Representatives as she is required to do.

    The letter stated, “Filing a false disclosure report is a very serious matter and can result in criminal penalties pursuant to 18 U.S.C. Sec. 1001. Filing a false report also deprives the public of information that would enable inspection of whether a Member’s official actions are conflicted with their private activities.”

    Unfortunately, the House Ethics Committee brought no charges, and Ms. Solis was eventually confirmed. The current affidavit scandal may mean that the Labor Secretary has a few more questions to answer, however.

    And that is especially true now that she is Labor Secretary on the record supporting the “card-check” legislation. On April 7th on the Rachel Maddow Show she said, “The President and I are on record in support of this legislation—I, as a former member of Congress; he, as a former senator. But he continues, as I do, to believe that this is a good bill, and we would hope to see it pass.”

    Commented ALG’s Wilson, “I trust Secretary Solis will do the right thing and send us the requested affidavit. The public has a right to know if she was authorizing lobbying expenditures while she was a member of Congress in support of the ‘card-check’ legislation.”

    Indeed the public does. They deserve to know what price the Obama Administration and Big Labor will pay to get “card-check”—and the elimination of secret workplace ballots—through Congress. And at what cost.

    Robert Romano is the Senior Editor of ALG News Bureau.

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