After reading this list of charges against Brian McLaughlin, a Queens assemblyman and president of the New York City Central Labor Council, I'm sure many people will be calling for his head (myself included). McLaughlin is accused of:
- stealing $95,000 from Little League baseball teams to pay his rent.
- creating two no-show jobs on his legislative payroll and keeping part of one salary.
- using his subordinates as “personal servants,” to take his dog to the veterinarian, hang Christmas lights, trap rodents in his basement and clean out his barn.
- making an aide use his E-ZPass at tollbooths to make it appear that he had returned home from Albany later than he really had, allowing him to bill for daily allowances given to legislators.
- using more than $330,000 from his re-election campaign funds to pay for personal expenses like a rehearsal dinner for his son’s wedding, renovation of his $760,000 house in Suffolk County near Long Island Sound, payment of his country club membership fees and the purchase and installation of a plasma television for a female friend.
- using stolen money for an $80,000 Mercedes-Benz for his wife, marina fees, school tuition for one of his children, rent payments on his Albany residence and rent payments on his Queens residence.
If true, the only mysteries are how human DNA can be so configured to permit this stupidity and why it took so long to indict him.
Doing the math, the article reports that the total theft is $2.2 million over ten years in a union comprised of a million members. So that works out to 22 cents per member per year. Checking my own response to this, I got way more angry over it than I typically do to other economic crimes, like reports of CEO malfeasance, which often have much bigger financial impacts. So why am I so angry?
The union movement is predicated on protecting the rights of the downtrodden working class. It lobbies for special concessions from the rest of society--that we confer and protect the union's monopoly rents--on behalf a select group of people. And reports of corruption like this undermine that case, as McLaughlin would tell us that they are poor enough to need special protections from the rest of us but act in such a way that he believes they are not so poor that he cannot rip them off for his own financial gain.
The combination of state-sanctioned monopoly and hypocrisy is what set me off, well beyond the size of the actual crime.