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SEIU, Stern Deny Investigation


According to liberal blog site Talking Points Memo, the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) and its former leader, Andy Stern, are "flatly denying" reports of an ongoing federal investigation.

According to the Associated Press, the FBI and U.S. Department of Labor are investigating the union on corruption accusations, including a $175,000 advance Stern accepted for a book deal in 2006 and his approval for a contract to pay another union official who reportedly performed no actual work.

But in comments to TPM, the union is denying the very existence of an investigation:

"The stories appearing today in the L.A. Times and the on AP are simply false. I have absolutely no reason to believe, and not the slightest indication, that I am being investigated by federal authorities with respect to Alejandro Stephens, or A Country That Works, or for that matter anything else," Stern said in a statement.

SEIU spokeswoman Michelle Ringuette said, "To our knowledge, this is flat out false."

Ringuette told TPM that the book deal had an "airtight" contract to protect against conflict of interest, and said Stern didn't receive any royalties for books sold to the union. She also said that the union had cooperated in the federal investigation of Stephens more than a year ago.

In a statement, she said the union has been a target of "disgruntled former union officials."

Instead, an SEIU official who spoke to TPM is pointing the finger at the National Union of Healthcare Workers (NUHW), claiming the union "has had a long beef with the SEIU."

The NUHW began as a southern California local of the SEIU, but after a feud, broke off from the SEIU. The two have engaged in bitter battles for the membership of local health care workers and have gone to court.

A spokesperson for the NUHW, said it's "really not our story."

"It's a shame that they want to blame other people," the spokesperson said. "We don't have anything to say about the story."

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