Everything you need to know about President Obama’s fraudulent ethics pledge can be summed up in four words: SEIU lawyer Craig Becker.
Becker is the left-wing lawyer Obama sneakily installed on the National Labor Relations Board. The U.S. Senate rejected Becker’s nomination on a 52-33 cloture vote in February. Obama responded by flipping the bird and ramming through his recess appointment during the congressional spring break. (The New York Times approvingly dubbed it a “muscular show of his executive authority.” When that authority was exercised by GOP President George W. Bush, of course, the Times editorial board called it a “constitutional gimmick.”)
Despite the White House’s much-heralded policy of binding every executive appointee to strict conflict-of-interest guidelines, a defiant Becker now remains free to rule on cases involving his former Big Labor bosses. And the most ethical administration in U.S. history isn’t doing a thing to stop him.
While serving as an associate general counsel for both the SEIU and AFL-CIO in 2009, Becker generously lent his legal expertise to the White House. He served as an Obama transition team member for labor issues and helped draft several union-backed executive orders.
These new rules essentially blackball non-union contractors targeted by labor organizers and blacklist non-union employees in the private sector from working on taxpayer-funded projects. Another union protectionist measure immediately adopted by Obama requires that when a government service contract runs out — and there’s a new contract to perform the same services at the same location — the new contractor must retain the old workers. Such regulatory favoritism limits freedom in the workplace and raises the cost of doing business. This suits Becker and his White House champions (who reaped $60 million in SEIU campaign donations and support in 2008) just fine.
Becker’s anti-business views date back to his days as a UCLA professor, when he argued that unions should not be subject to the same rules of democracy and fair elections as everyone else. He favors radical rewriting of union organizing rules and elimination of the secret ballot process by administrative fiat.
It’s no surprise that Becker now refuses to hold himself accountable for the ethics pledge he himself signed in April. As the past two years have taught us, Team Obama’s operational slogan is: Rules are for fools. The contractual ethics commitment states: “I will not for a period of two years from the date of my appointment participate in any particular matter involving specific parties that is directly and substantially related to my former employer or former clients, including regulations and contracts.” Yet, Becker has participated in numerous NLRB cases involving the SEIU and its affiliates — and is parsing the definition of “former employer” by arguing that local SEIU chapters are “separate and distinct legal entities” that don’t fall under the ethics rules.
The National Right to Work Foundation, which has fought both national and local SEIU officials in court on behalf of rank-and-file workers’ rights, eviscerates Becker’s lawyerly blather. SEIU’s own constitution considers local affiliates “constituent subordinate bodies” of the national union, the foundation notes. “Moreover, in 2009 over 85 percent of the SEIU’s receipts came from a per capita tax on the locals’ membership dues and fees. The national union even has the power to assume control over its locals if they do not conform to International policies.”
In any case, Becker has also acknowledged playing a key role in providing “advice and counsel” to the powerful SEIU affiliate in Illinois “relating to proposed executive orders and proposed legislation giving homecare workers a right to organize and engage in collective bargaining under state law.” Championed by Big Labor water-carrier and disgraced former Democratic Gov. Rod Blagojevich and current SEIU-endorsed Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn, such measures effectively bust into private homes for the Purple Shirts of the SEIU and other union competitors hungry for new dues-paying members.
Now, Becker is in the catbird seat — adjudicating challenges to the power grab rules he helped author.
Little did America know that when candidate Obama promised the SEIU he would “open up the doors of government” to them, he’d give them the keys to our living rooms, too.